We sat down with African Ginger to talk about making money off of your brand, working with other creatives and remaining business-minded in the creative sphere.
Ballantine’s recently hosted the second edition of its Ballantine’s Stay True Labs with DJ Kid Fonque, rapper Daev Martian and Illustrator African Ginger connecting with fans to discuss their latest ventures on a platform designed to be an informal sit-down session to give artists, creators, producers and designers the space to make connections and have meaningful discussions. We sat down with African Ginger at the event to discuss his partnership with the brand, creating a name for himself and earning money from it.
While collaborations between musicians and alcohol brands are inevitable, the 23- year-old has managed to build a brand through work that appeals to both corporate and creative entities, making him an entirely unique personality in Johannesburg’s creative sphere.
DM: For those who aren’t familiar with your work, with whom have you collaborated?
African Ginger (AG): You might have seen some of my work with Levi’s. I’ve been blessed to have been able to work with quite a few brands. I’ve also worked with Adidas, Converse, Jameson, Anatomy and Coco-Cola.
DM: As an illustrator, what has been your key to success?
AG: Brands like individuality, so what I’ve tried to do is continue creating work that I like, as opposed to changing to suit brands and from there, quite a few brands have approached me to work with them. Authenticity is key. I’ve been illustrating for years and I honestly feel that I’ve only gotten better because I practise and work on my craft every day. When I’m not doing it for a client, I’ll still create for myself so I only get better.
DM: How did you learn to take care of your finances as a creative once you started getting jobs from brands?
AG: It was difficult at first, but I had to learn everything, which is what life is about. I deal with my finances myself, from sending my own invoices to speaking to people who haven’t paid me. However, I do have a financial manager who takes care of where my money goes once it has come in.
DM: How do you estimate how much your art is worth now that your brand is growing?
AG: You can’t really estimate your worth – what I’ve done to try to gauge my worth as an artist by looking at how many clients I’ve worked with, as well as by looking at how much a client is willing to pay. I believe that if a client can pay the first rate you give, then you’re rating yourself well. If a client can’t pay that, then perhaps you’ve overvalued yourself. If a client is willing to pay you with what I call “a smirk”, then perhaps you’re underrating yourself, especially considering that you may have worked with quite a few brands beforehand. I used to sell prints for R300, but now one of my prints can go for R3 000 because all of my prints are one of a kind and I’ve worked to position myself where that isn’t a ridiculous estimate of my art’s worth.