Jared Rudolph (Jariiid) is a self-taught artist from Bridgetown, Cape Town. He draws inspiration from the things around him and is very lucky to be able to make a living from his art.    

What does art mean to you? 

To me, it’s the start of creation. And the ability to create has always just been integral to my development. And so, being able to monetise it has just been the biggest blessing because it’s something that’s so intrinsic, I don’t have to think about it. It’s like love; you can just tell if you’re in love with someone. So, it’s the same for me with art because it’s something I fell in love with. I made it my life and my passion. And it’s something that I also hope to share with other people. So, for me, it’s deeper than just a visual language. Although a visual artist, I dive into sonic literature in different realms and spectrums. So, it’s a very broad concept, but to condense it, it’s just life. It’s beauty. It’s everything that you see, and that inspires you. And if you have the ability to share, by all means, do that. .

A two-part question: at what age did you first start creating art pieces and what inspires your work?

I started in primary school; I just had a knack for drawing. My dad could also, but he never really pursued it. And I remember being exposed to art when I was five years old. An artist came into my school,  and I was immediately gripped by that. And then, over the years, the inspiration has kind of evolved. So, initially, it started with my environment, surroundings and community. Just seeing the lack of opportunities, people not doing much because of that. 

And so, my art started as a way of letting people know what was happening in my community and using that as my voice. And then, recently, I did a pilgrimage where I walked and hitchhiked from Cape Town to Zimbabwe. I was 44 days on the road without any cash. And just getting to know South Africans and finding out why people are on the streets, and how we can help them in a sustainable way, but also, to get on their level. 

My art has also been influenced by my experience going on that journey. Right now, it’s evolving again. Recently I was inspired by a friend who passed away. His name was Ben Moyo; he was also an amazing creative.  My art is constantly evolving and shaping and takes on different forms. 

I believe art has the ability to outlive the artist. So even when I pass away, my art will still be around 50 years, 100 years, or 200 years from now. And my thing has always been to create work that has that weight and that a couple of years from now will still hold that same gravity and can still be engaged the same way as when I initially created it.

Do you think visual art such as yours can be used to build literacy, and if so how?

Visual art is a kind of literacy because it’s information you acquire through sights. So even the colours I use, there’s intention behind it: greens represent growth and new beginnings. Red is like the first colour you see anywhere you are because it is such a bold colour. My mom was an English teacher. And so, if I could, I would incorporate a lot of writing into my paintings.

I’ve noticed in some of your artwork that you use, what looks like the numbers one and zero; what is the meaning behind that? 

After the pilgrimage, the main thing that I realised was the systematic way that people of colour are viewed. And I  kind of correlated that to binary code. You know, like computer language 101010, those ones and zeros are a language in itself. It’s a system of codes. 

The ones and zeros in the modern age would be schooling, religion, your job, and other facets; like it’s all predetermined. And it’s very difficult for some people to break out of that mould and out of that box, especially a person of colour. As a creative, we needed to break many boundaries and say, “Oh, is this a sustainable way to put food on the table and start a career?”  I’ve been an activist since I can remember. And the ones and zeros are just kind of my “Amandla” in the gallery spaces. I couldn’t go everywhere and be like “Power to the people”, but I could paint that as a voice for me.

What is your proudest achievement in your art journey? 

Just being able to be in a space where I  control what I create and the ability to share that has always just been astounding to me. Recently I’ve gotten a lot more acclamation overseas. Like, having my work up in homes in New York, Switzerland, Denmark and Italy and having that African narrative,  seeing its impact. And knowing that it’s in spaces where people are having big conversations. I would consider that a very proud moment. 

What advice do you have for someone hoping to break into the art industry?  

The first thing is to have an identifiable body of work. The ones and zeros are my signatures; I don’t sign my paintings. Then, if you’re an independent artist, make sure you understand the industry or the business side of creating. When you approach galleries, you know that they take commission, also VAT, so understand how to price your work accordingly; don’t undervalue yourself. 

Make sure you’re creating something authentic to you; don’t try to fit in a mould or box that someone else has already created. And also, don’t rush; enjoy the journey. 

Just live with it. Breathe with it. Make sure you’re making something you like, and the world will like it too.

Please share your social media handles for Fundza Fanz so they can follow your journey and admire your art 

My Instagram handle is @jariiid. My website  http://iiiart.co.za/ 

My portfolio and projects are all mainly on my website. 


Read more here about the Sneaker Guy.

Tell us: What inspired you about Jared’s visual art journey?