In remembrance of Leungo Letang “Chopps- the Doodle King”

He has been called a creative genius, an asset, a legend and even a king. His work has been described as dope, intriguing and his creative talent labelled ‘a thing of spirits’. Powerful words that honour a hardworking young Designer whose passing, on Wednesday 18 July in Amsterdam, has left many devastated, and the visual communication industry robbed of ‘the Doodle King’.
Leungo Letang Chopps Tumedi was born in Gaborone, on 12 May 1984. One of many Taureans in his family, he was the oldest of three and brother to Sebilo and Tamedi. In typical big brother style, he was very protective of his younger siblings, and always took the fall when they got into trouble (which he usually instigated). Although Leungo was the oldest, one would be forgiven for thinking his sister Sebilo was older. He loved and respected her, and even referred to her as his mother. They had a strong connection, and Sebilo lovingly recalls an intimate unspoken bond they shared – through a look, the day before he left for Amsterdam. As a father to 13 year old Peo, (lovingly known as Peewee) he had taken on the role of hands-on fatherhood from the time his daughter was a 3 year old toddler. This was not surprising as he comes from a close-knit family, whose love and support he acknowledged at every opportunity.
His creativity was evident from a very young age, and he is still remembered fondly by his Music teacher, Mrs Esther Alard, from Westwood International School, his Art teacher Steve Jobson from Maru-a-pula School and Robin Turner, his Multimedia Design lecturer at Greenside Design Center in Johannesburg. During his Post Graduate studies in 2007, he got the opportunity to take part in a 3 week design Summer-camp in Copenhagen, Denmark. This was an eye-opener for him, but more so for the international participants and educators at the camp, who were in awe of Leungo’s empathy, humility and abundant creative talent.
On his return from Copenhagen, Leungo met Jabulani Tsambo aka Jabba, and together they built the visual identity for HHP (using a brand new Mac Book laptop that Jabba insisted on buying for him). As Seabelo Modibe recalls, he and Jabba were awed by Leungo’s design concepts for the Acceptance Speech album (which went on to win two South African Music Awards). Since then Leungo has been the official designer for the HHP brand. Understandably, his passing has hit Jabba hard.
In 2008 Leungo joined the creative industry in Botswana, through Native Impressions. His co-workers recall how eager he was to share his ideas, but also how willing he was to listen and learn from his peers. In 2012 he moved to Hotwire PRC, where he worked until the end of 2017. During this time he started sharing his doodles through social media, and earned quite a following as he used his unique mark-making technique to draw totems, Badimo and other visual delights. He also worked on the visual identities for many local brands including Jam For Brunch, Kwa Ga Ncinci and ATI.
Leungo also designed two sets of stamps for BotswanaPost – an opportunity he got after being hand-picked for a stamp design workshop because of his unique talent.
In January 2018, Leungo joined Bullsheep/Image Lounge, where he was able to further explore his love for art and design. ‘Chopps Dudz’ as they called him, became Creative Director and one of the three Black Tip Crew members (with Tebogo Cranwell and Karabo Maine) whose doodles have graced magazine and album covers and been publicly performed during the launch of Mpho Sebina’s album in December 2017.
Chopps will be remembered for his authenticity – never hesitant to speak his truth and always encouraging others to also find their own unique voice. Whether it was talking music, movies or comics with his peers, taking on the October Doodle challenge, starting the Name n Shame facebook page, rocking the latest Chuck Taylors or taking a publicised break from drinking his favourite soda, Chopps did it all with passion and purpose.
We honour your creativity and authenticity,@artbychopps. You made your mark.
Onica Lekuntwane – Mentor,Teacher.