Mark Modimola’s illustration for the AFI Joburg Fashion Week.

A new movement of cultural and sexual diversity and the blurring of national borderlines is taking place in the creative industry as it explores an era of art and design. The theme for the upcoming season of African Fashion International (AFI) Joburg Fashion Week is Afro-Asia, where the East meets Africa in a thrilling fashion and cultural fusion. 

AFI Joburg Fashion Week 2018 will showcase the best of African fashion with a sprinkle of Asian flavour. Slated to show alongside fashion design stars from across the continent, including Nigeria’s Deola Sagoe and Clan, are ranges from South African designers such as David Tlale, Laduma and Orapeleng Modutle, who will create a glorious fashion melting-pot with Asian designers from Japan, Cambodia and China

South Africa was recently named Africa’s most innovative country and Japan takes the lead in Asia, particularly in technology terms, Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, executive director for AFI, said.

Africa and Asia are both celebrated for promoting local authenticity while achieving covetable global style. This could lead to inspiring fashion and business partnerships.

This year, instead of impeccably styled models and perfectly shot campaign images, AFI commissioned a young artist to create illustrations for the 2018 Joburg Fashion Week campaign.

After seeing Mark Modimola’s “Afrocult totem” illustrations, they commissioned the 26-year-old artist to capture the essence of the Afro/Asia theme.

Illustrator Mark Modimola. (Picture supplied)

Modimola started his career in the arts as a graphic designer.

“Working as a graphic designer gave me the tools I needed to shape my ideas.

“I left that and began lecturing and creating. I found that cultivating culture and defining what I experienced more fulfilling,” says Modimola.

Even though he created four main artworks that will be seen across the final campaign, he made close to 100 drawings before the final artworks.

“The Afro/Asia theme speaks to a truth We Africans have an incredibly rich history, one that has seen us trade and interact with Asia for thousands of years.

“The mixing of these two timeless cultures brings great innovation,” Modimola says on what inspired his illustrations.

“I relate well to the storytelling aspect of Asian culture, how it defines its people and history through its art.

“They put a beautiful emphasis on craft, nature and life. I also find a bridge in culture with print and ink between our two cultures.

“African cultures themselves have a rich history of craft and printing with inks and so I constantly merge those elements,” he adds.

“African culture is a living organism, always growing. We are the kings and queens of innovation. We Africans observe, reimagine, then recreate.

“We took wood from the baobab and made it into a forest of culture, with masks and sculpture.

“To me this is the formula for innovation.”

The young creative considers himself to be a multidisciplinary artist.

Mark Modimola’s illustration for the AFI Joburg Fashion Week.

His creative process for the AFI Afro/Asia illustrations started with a pencil, then ink, then it became digital art.

“I tried to mirror the process one undertakes when taking a sketch of a dress to the runway.

“The process drove the medium,” he points out.

The artist explains that the AFI Joburg Fashion Week campaign illustrations tell the story of a young African designer inspired by the richness of Asian culture, whom we see grow a sketch from an idea into something real that inspires both cultures.

The African Fashion International Joburg Fashion Week takes place from Thursday to Sunday at Melrose Arch.

To see the full designer schedule and catch all the developments and the build-up towards AFI Joburg Fashion Week, visit the website: