Zinhle Zulu, better known as ‘Zhi’, is an award-winning illustrator and aspiring graphic novelist. Born in Kwa-Zulu Natal, she grew up in Johannesburg and attained her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Visual Communication from Open Window Institute. She is currently completing her Masters in Design. Amongst multiple other accolades and appearances in exhibitions, she achieved a Gold-Craft Loerie award for Illustration in 2017 and is currently part of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives Class of 2019. She has also published two children’s books through Collaborate Community.
Zhi has her own illustration studio called Zuluvisual which encapsulates her essence as a “visual storyteller”. Art is her passion and her life, her key goal being “to tell stories of Zulu culture in a contemporary way through illustration”. Zuluvisual is a multifaceted company Zhi started in order to address some glaring issues in the education system such as literacy and cultural studies.
“I hope to establish Zuluvisual as an illustration studio, a publishing house and an illustrated merchandise producer.”
Throughout her childhood Zhi found it difficult to relate to the illustrations she encountered in Zulu cultural books, while at the same time the books she found visually interesting didn’t feature characters that she could relate to. This motivated her to address these discrepancies in her work.
“Growing up in a globalised setting helped me put a contemporary flair into how I perceived my culture… rich, exciting, interesting and current. I hope for more creatives and illustrators to express a newer take on the multitude of awesome cultures in South Africa that are able to live as one. I just want there to be an understanding of one another, you know? #Ubuntu and stuff.”
Inspired by the beautifully patterned skin of a leopard, this graphic illustration is reminiscent of an African safari.