Visual artist and performer on going beyond borders | The new times
21-year-old Jules Mutuga, also known as TyZik, has found his niche in the visual and performing arts and is motivated to take his art to an international level and spread it to anyone who wants to have fun.
Mutuga produces portraits, paintings and illustrations for graphic novels, children’s books and comics as well as 2D drawings and animations. As part of the performing arts, he is a rapper, songwriter and former hip-hop dancer.
He started drawing at a very young age drawing in the last pages of his notebook, but was dissuaded from it by teachers who told him that his drawings would not take him far.
He shared that he was an introverted and antisocial child who found it very difficult to express himself due to the fear of being ignored or misunderstood.
“I kept everything inside, but every time I had a pencil and paper, everything looked different. I found peace and joy in storytelling by exposing what was on my mind. It became my new way of expressing what I couldn’t get out of my head by now giving me a voice,” he said.
“Art has become my therapy, be it drawing or writing. As I grew up, it became my home, my universe. I didn’t discover my talent, he discovered me.
Jules shared that he would get support from his family although they don’t see visual art as something he could pursue as a career.
“My father and my uncle were my first motivators. During the holidays, instead of traveling or doing other activities, I would ask her for enough papers, pencils, then I would go to my grandmother’s house and spend days drawing. My uncle would also be there to support and motivate me,” he said.
His journey as a professional artist began in 2017 after graduating from high school. He started out as a freelance illustrator, working for Gravity Studios on children’s books. He then worked with various companies and publishing houses and produced numerous storybooks.
Back then, his hobbies were watching cartoons and reading comics. These also served as motivation, he said.
He said his love for visual arts has never waned because visual art is limitless, adding that he can express anything about it.
“Visual art has boosted my self-confidence and made me less anti-social. I found a way to express myself and heal from a nervous breakdown. Being a visual artist is the best decision I’ve ever made in my life,” he said.
Jules’ art encompasses a mix of cultures and a distinctive style that includes Japanese manga, American comics and his African touch which he says defines his uniqueness.
He shared that nowadays in Rwanda visual arts is a career that parents can help their children to pursue unlike the last five to 10 years.
“The industry has some very experienced international artists and this is just the beginning. We still have to take it to the next level because a large part of the population has no idea how visual artists generate content that their children watch every day in school or how it helps with publicity” , did he declare.
Jules won first prize in a competition organized by the Francophone Cultural Center of Rwanda in collaboration with Bakamé Éditions, where his project “Scarf” was selected to join others that will be presented during the Frankfurt International Book Fair to Germany.
He is also working on a graphic novel “Orphans vs Aliens” as an illustrator of a story written by an American director, Matthew Leutwyler.
Speaking about his challenges, he said there are still some opportunities for young artists to work on big projects, adding that some people don’t understand the role and importance of illustrations in teaching materials, which leads them often paying little money to visual artists. which makes it difficult for them to earn a living.
Jules’ most popular works include illustrations titled “Protect the Culture” and “Late nights sleeping” which have been featured by different influencers on their instagram accounts like Nubiamancy, Dopebackart, Institut Français and Madboogie Creations (former Lime Town studios) .
For more information, you can contact him at +250780756577, [email protected]
Instagram: @tyzik_the_greatest_, @tyzik_the_rapper
Twitter: @Mutuga_Jules, @TyZikTheRapper