Looking back over the year, we’ve had some great interviews racked up - and we now have another to add to that great list! Here’s a guy who’s a big time Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fanatic and has a track record of cranking out an endless stream of quick and cool monsters created in spare time while on the move. But that’s not all - his first exhibition has just kicked off and runs until the 25th of January in Cape Town, so if you’re in the area, get down to see the man’s work for yourself. Ladies and gents, this is Boeta Phyf! SL: Please introduce yourself, tell us where you’re from and describe what it is you do, in your own words. BP: They call me Boeta, they call me Phyf Dawg, they call me the artist formally known as Playone, (Boeta’s username here on Springleap - click that to see his submissions) they call me Kornealious, they call me Always Sunny in Neiladelphia, they call me Credence Neilwater Revival, that’s not my name, that’s not my name. My name is Neil Phyfer. At the moment a bridge the gap between being a high school laaitie and designing Liqui-Fruit boxes for a living - I do this through moaning and complaining. SL: So, you’ve had a lifelong love affair with illustration, doodles, graffiti and many other forms of creativity, and you’re now a graphic design lecturer. Your bio states that your career ‘started’ in 2000, but we know that you’ve been honing your skills since you were 5! Tell us about your creative journey - how did it all start, what have been your highlights and where are you headed? BP: I’ve been drawing since I watched the first episode of TMNT. I started painting graffiti when I was twelve. Graffiti took over most of high school. Graffiti was also just another medium for getting my characters out there. I rushed through a two year Graphic Design course. My rushing led to being stuck working in a video shop for a year. After that came the joy of being a DTP operator. All the while I taught myself to illustrate and animate in flash. It was ridiculous to me that someone would pay me to draw characters; I kept at it for some reason. No one was really doing illustrated characters at the time. One Friday evening like a bad written sitcom, a white boy, an Indian homie and a black dude came knocking at the door looking for an illustrator. They took me hostage for a weekend. I didn’t sleep. I pushed out fifteen characters in one weekend, as opposed to the one a day pace I was used to. These guys were cut from the same cloth as I was; they gave me double my salary in one weekend to do what I would do anyway!!! I left my shitty DTP job to work with these guys, they were open to me learning as I went along. I worked on bucket loads of illustration, which meant teaching myself illustrator. The highlight was working on my first comic. After two years of working on my different projects with these guys, I started working for myself. I’m still not really doing the funny and evil illustrations I wanted to, but getting paid to draw nonetheless. I managed to sell the idea of three really fucked up animals to a local newspaper, which became a comic strip known as Drie Skelms. We ran with it for three years, they allowed me to pretty much say and do whatever I wanted to, to go places that were really funny to me and probably dark to other humans. That was the most rewarding illustration work I’ve done, Drie Skelms is becoming a Web show soon. Freelance is up and down, it became challenging at times. I freelanced for 5 years before I started lecturing. I am going into my third year lecturing next year. The saying goes that “those who can’t do teach”, the bra who wrote that had never taught a lesson in his life. Every bit of knowledge I have gained through illustration and design I filter back into my students. This year I was able to teach digital painting and photo manipulation, which was more rewarding than any money I have received to draw pictures. SL: Your skills on the graffiti scene, your love for rap music and a blooming relationship with digital illustration has seen your skills employed in a range of mediums - including cartoon strips, murals, album covers and more - but what’s your preferred style of illustration, and why? BP: I think style is always something that should evolve, you should use whatever you can get your hands on to make drawings. I laugh at illustrators that are like “Nooit bru, I only use illustrator.” The computer is just a tool; like a pencil. Photoshop won’t make you a better designer. You put garbage in, you get garbage out (this is starting to sound like my lectures). At the moment, every morning on my commute to work I draw on my phone using an app called Sketchbook Pro and a stylus pen. It has it setbacks, but you learn to work with those as you go along. I’m in my element drawing sif monsters and really stewpid kids. It has been a long journey, but finally people want that. When I was starting out people were more about, “Oh, you can illustrate, we want a Mickey Mouse style”. Nowadays, I get paid to draw the siffness in my head. SL: You’ve paid your dues over the years and are now looking to move into gallery shows. Describe the journey that’s gotten you this far, and how your work has changed as its evolved. Also, do you have any tips for up and coming artists who might be making the same journey? BP: I was asked to be involved in a gallery show that’s just opened. I’ve known about it for three months and I’m still blown away that they want my work in their gallery. I have not mentioned any of the clients or studios I have done work for by name. I think everybody wants to land that one big client. The way to look at it is like this, if you had enough cash monies to buy everything you’ve ever dreamed of: a big car, a big house, every toy ever made… Then what? If you’re a poephol, you will be sitting alone with all of those shinny things. You can’t teach people to have better personalities. Students always ask how they become like so and so, because that creative invented a font, now the whole world is in love with them. People can hype someone or that flavour of the month to such a degree that everyone believes it’s the greatest thing in the world. It’s pointless to be inspired by people for being original and then try replicating their style. From my experience if you offer designs to people who can’t pay you in cash in exchange for skills(everyone has some kind of skill). Barter in order to take money out the equation. People will always remember the homie that was willing to help them, over the person who was only concerned with how much they would get paid! If your whole reason for being creative is to make money, homelessness is in your future. The best way forward is to make your work personal; people can’t take YOU away from you. I am still influenced by 80s cartoons and Chuck Taylors. Everything takes time, don’t try rush things. Continuously learn as much as you can, style wise, do research, get in as much software knowledge as you can, always go back to rocking things by hand. SL: Lastly, what tunes inspire you when you’re busy creating, and what musicians would you recommend for our readers? BP: iTunes inspire me, oh I see what you meant. 95 per cent of what I listen to is local hip hop these artists can be found on facebook and Google with ease. Most of these boys and girls will give you sample tracks. These artists are in rotation in my music player everyday: Isaac Mutant, Hemel Besem, Hiperdelic Productions, Dokter Kapnoudis, Slim-X, Rashid Kamalie, MC Potlood, Cream, Deamus, Dokte, Remy-E. Local music updates can also be found on this blog: Rymklets. Big thanks to Boeta Phyf for such an in-depth interview, littered with his damn fine original work! If you’d like to check out more of his work, hit his Facebook page and Phyfdawg blog.