Atomic Form: Hi Lethabo! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! We’re massive fans of your work and feel that you’ll be a defining voice of the crypto art scene. We'd love to learn a bit more about you as an artist and individual. How did your upbringing in South Africa, and more specifically, Pretoria, influence your artistic development? What’s your favorite aspect of the art scene in Pretoria?
Lethabo Huma: Growing up, the art scene in Pretoria was quite small. I attended social markets where the focus was on art exhibition, music and fashion. These events inspired me explore my identity and the meaning of life through my work.
AF: You’ve said in previous interviews that you, “still follow traditional painting and drawing techniques in order to achieve expressive brushwork textures.” Why has it been important to you to use these techniques in your digital art, as opposed to creating with a physical paintbrush and paper or transition to more synthetic styles?
LH: I’ve always loved brushwork in visual art. In all the styles I experiment with, I am always finding ways to incorporate interesting brushwork. In digital art, I find that it is quite challenging to create the illusion of texture which makes digital art even more exciting.
AF: Your work often features women or children, sometimes clothed and sometimes nude. Can you tell us the significance of choosing portraiture over other styles?
LH: I use portraiture because it makes it feel more personal and appeals to an aspect of the self.
AF: You’ve previously explained that, “I use my work as a mirror to portray various expressions of myself.” What do you see when you look at the pieces you’ve created?
LH: I see a part of myself in the work in many ways. In some I see a reflection of a moment in life, an opinion I’ve had about a particular topic or my emotional state.
AF: What was it like to have your pieces featured in one of MoCDA’s digital galleries as opposed to a physical gallery?
LH: The 777 exhibition was a collaboration between me and MoCDA. It really felt good to be able to work with them to provide artists, including myself, a platform to share their work and story using a virtual gallery. Virtual galleries are relatively new but will become more common even after the pandemic as they allow art lovers from all places of the world to experience an exhibition by their favourite artists in the comfort of their own home.
AF: You’ve done interviews with both Visa and at the World Economic Forum. Are there common threads between your art and socioeconomic issues that are tied together via blockchains?
LH: A common thread that I can see right now is the issue of gas fees. The value of ETH is going to increase and so are gas fees. I can’t imagine what gas fees would be next year and this already excludes a lot of artists who would want to be part of this space.
AF: You’re still in school earning your degree in visual multimedia. Have your creative peers embraced the NFT ecosystem or is there a hesitancy to become involved?
LH: I would say that there is a hesitancy more than an embrace because of the barrier gas fees imposes on artists who are starting out and can’t afford to mint work.
AF: Who are some other South African artists that people should keep an eye on?
AF: If you could collaborate with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?
LH: I would love to collaborate with Alexis Franklin!
AF: Who and what are you inspired by?
LH: I am inspired by anything and everything. I enjoy learning about myself and visually documenting the mental and emotional effects of the human experience.
AF: What are some of your longer-term aspirations as a creator, and when can we expect to see new works from you?
LH: I am looking into collaborative projects with musical artists and poets within the cryptospace. I am working on two big projects which are set to be released in May or June.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.