Living ColourBased in South Africa, Mercy Thokozane Minah is a prolific creator with an extensive output ranging from writing, performing and directing his own stories, to writing and performing his own music, to illustrating and painting vibrant artworks.
Lately Mercy has focused on visual art, with world-building renderings of Black queer and trans intimacy. He started painting digitally to "self soothe" through the pandemic and found that his depictions of everyday Black queer and trans people resonated with others.
“I have been creative for as long as I have been a person who can move around and make things...”
Why do you create?
As cliché and pretenious as this answer may seem, I create for the same reason I breathe. It keeps me alive. I have been creative for as long as I have been a person who can move around and make things - be it drawings or writing with my hands, singing or oral storytelling with my voice, acting and directing with the entirety of me - creativity has been the one constant in my life that has always signaled that I am here. That I should be here. Because I have things to do. Things to make.
'save me from falling'
What makes my work unique is that it comes through me. Someone else could create using the exact same materials and software and themes that I make with and still not make work that is identical to mine. Even if they made replicas of my work, the spirit and intention behind it would not be the same. My specific combination of experiences, context, and perspective inform my work. And by that virtue, it is unique.
“I am also inspired by beauty. Which ranges from really vibrant colours to interesting textures...”
Where do you get your inspiration?
I am inspired by the things that I think most about and that I am moved most by. I really am obsessed with intimacy. And as a Black, geigh (this is the term I use to encompass having a self-determined sexual and romantic orientation as well as gender) person, the intimacy that most concerns me is that which exists between and among people like me. I am also inspired by beauty. Which ranges from really vibrant colours to interesting textures to people who look a particular way. My work reflects my inspirations really.
Where do you sell your art?
I sell my work as physical prints on Redbubble and Mango Maison. You can buy my work digitally on the blockchain via OpenSea, Foundation and hic et nunc. My work is also available on the secondary SuperRare market. Sometimes people commission me for either digital art that they print out themselves or for physical paintings. The latter has happened about 4 times in my entire life, but it counts to me.
How do you promote yourself and your work?
I don't promote myself much. I just share my work online (mostly via Twitter and Instagram where I am @iamafreedom) and it resonates with people. I'm fortunate to have cultivated that type of space for myself, I think. I don't have to be aggressive about seeking out opportunities or putting myself out there. A lot of my opportunities have come from folks seeing my work somewhere and approaching me about it.
“Live your life in ways that best honor who you truly are. And create the same way.”
Do you have any advice for other artists?
Ah, I don't know that there is any universal advice that I can offer other artists, aside from what I often suggest to anyone who cares to listen: just live your life. Live your life in ways that best honor who you truly are. And create the same way. Create in ways that are true to who you are. I don't know that any external pay off for that is guaranteed, but the internal satisfaction, at least, is somewhat worth it.
What are your future ambitions?
My ambitions for the future are really just to have some semblance of long term autonomy and stability from making art. I'm in theatre school at the moment, so there is so much work I have yet to make in that arena. I also have books and music in me still, that I want to share with the world. If I'm in the final moments of my life and I can look back and just see a life full of all kinds of exciting creative endeavors, I will feel that I have lived my life well.
Many thanks for your answers Mercy. You can buy Mercy's art as prints, cushions, jigsaw puzzles or NFTs by using the links above and follow him on Twitter or Instagram.