Picture: Beautiful News South Africa
When last did you see a black woman in a comic strip? Was it an accurate representation? Joel Matladi, who goes by the name Cyzo in the digital arts industry, is set on delineating of African narratives in mainstream media. His project, Black Snow, is a series of illustrations that’s shifting inaccurate perspectives of African women.

Sparked by his father’s passion for doodling, Matladi taught himself the art of digital painting and animation. His current project is influenced by anime, comics, and gaming. Drawing inspiration from African visual identity and heritage, Matladi’s futuristic chronicle pays homage to the strength of African women and conjures feelings of self-assurance and pride. 

Each character is entirely unique, detailed specifically to symbolise a myriad expressive tools and identities. “Black Snow is meant to make women feel like the best version of themselves,” he says. 

Matladi’s high-concept digital art showcases the diversity of his skills and of the people he depicts. In 2017, he was selected to be a part of the Design Indaba Emerging Creatives Programme, where he exhibited to an international audience. 

Since then, Matladi has continued to subvert previously exhausted African stories told from a Western perspective and offer a fresh take on representation.