NEBNIKRO is my name backwards and the name I choose to go by as an artist. I believe that the name you are given at birth says so much about how your parents expect you to grow up and who they expect you to become.
Tell us a bit more about Ben:
I have lived in Cape Town my whole life and am currently studying Fine Arts at UCT’s Michaelis. I really really enjoy learning and working with different creative techniques including ceramics, beading, sewing, photographing, and cooking. At the moment my focus is on making ceramic vessels, but I tend to go through phases of making different kinds of things.
How did you come up with the name NEBNIKRO?
NEBNIKRO is my name backwards and the name I choose to go by as an artist. I believe that the name you are given at birth says so much about how your parents expect you to grow up and who they expect you to become. Ben is a Hebrew name meaning ‘son’. By reversing this name and my surname, I hope to shift away from traditional expectations of what it means to be a man and take ownership of my own identity.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Everywhere and the strangest places. Interesting looking windows, rock formations, architectural facades, lights, kitchen utensils, hectic music (am loving 90’s electronic at the moment) etc. I tend to see interesting shapes or colours around me and then I’ll think about how I could translate what I see into whatever medium I’m into at that moment. I try not to look at artists working in the same field as me because I don’t want to be influenced by their way of seeing.
Ceramics is quite an alternative medium to have chosen to use, especially considering your age. How did you start dabbling with this medium?
My mother is a ceramicist, she makes beautiful bowls, plates, jugs etc. which she illustrates onto. I’ve been watching her work and learning her techniques for as long as I can remember. I made a few ceramic pieces when I was younger including a life size replica of my cat Mimi and other random things, but only recently started taking it more seriously as a medium to explore. My mind understands the making of three-dimensional forms more so than it understands creating flat/graphic images, so sculpture is my thing. Ceramics is so close to home for me, so it seemed like a natural creative technique for me to venture into.
You are 19 years old and just had a sold out show held at AKJP Collective- how do you feel about that? Did you have any idea that people will take on so well to your creations?
A wow moment in my life for sure! I felt that the work I created was very true myself (which is something I find really really NB! as a creative), so the fact that people appreciated it meant so so so much to me. I never really think about how people will respond to my work when I’m making it, because I’m making it for myself, so that’s an added bonus when you realize that they do like it.
You seem to be a very focused and driven individual. How do you maintain this healthy work pattern to continuously create?
Thank you! Both of my parents are extremely hard working and basically run their own businesses. They have taught me the importance of working hard for things I want and for goals I have set for the future. I used to be a swimmer when I was younger which taught me lots and lots of discipline. I was in the pool just about everyday after school for about two hours. I had to learn how to balance my schoolwork and out of school activities. I apply these skills today when I have to balance University and other creative activities I involve myself with. I dedicate a lot of my time working on lots of different projects and am lucky enough to enjoy the work I do.
How do you avoid a create slump?
I’ve realized that you can’t. The only thing you can do is embracing the down. I tend to go through phases where I will be extremely passionate about creating, and then after a while, loose my drive. It’s extremely important to take a break from it all during these downs; otherwise you will kill it for yourself.
What can we expect from NEBNIKRO and Ben in the near future?
NEBNIKRO will continue creating art. Ben needs to finish his degree.