Wandile graduated from the Marketing and Advertising Learnership last year. Now a Junior Designer at J. Walter Thompson Worldwide, we asked him to write a personal essay sharing his story.

YouTuber, Illustrator, Animator, Video Editor, Manga Artist, Digital Painter, 3D-Renderer — with the agility to wear so many hats, I don’t like to be boxed into just one cubicle, but I guess we can settle on Designer. I’m Wandile Zwane (aka Japanese Zulu Boy,) a fresh 21-year-old young creative.

Inspired by my love for the art of Japanese animation and Manga storytelling, I’m always pushing myself and striving to improve my skillset. I find the work of Makoto Shinkai, Japanese Animator and Director, particularly inspiring. My hope is to use this inspiration to bring more relevant and exciting brand storytelling to South Africa. I believe it has the potential to change the lives of local consumers and how they perceive brands.

Where it all began

My personal creative journey began when I first held a pencil at the age of 5. Truthfully, I felt as though I had no talent whatsoever, all I knew was that I had fun playing with my pencil on paper. I’m both stubborn and persistent, but I know this has helped me improve my craft — by the time I reached high school, my art was better than average. Pablo Picasso’s famous quote springs to mind; “Every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up”.

Stay true to yourself

As I got older and more comfortable with my passion for art and all things creative, I realised that in order to be a creative, you have to stay true to yourself. After completing high school, I started my first year at university studying a degree in Applied Math and Computer Science. It became clear to me quite soon in that this wasn’t the right path for me, and that my true passion lied in the creative fields. Towards the end of 2017, a door leading to big opportunities opened — the learnership at Red & Yellow Creative School of Business.

My Red & Yellow experience

Joining the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business Learnership programme (NCA 5) was both terrifying and exciting, mainly because both of my older brothers had been a part of the programme in recent years and were held in high esteem in their respective groups. But I realised I am my own person, and that I had the potential to do even more than they did.

It was inspiring to be in an environment where I could interact with people who’ve achieved so much in the advertising and marketing industry, like my teacher Steph Houslay (Course Director). During the Learnership I was able to meet a lot of people I look up to, like Alettie Marx who was my mentor, and guest lecturers such as Mushambi Mutuma, Felix Kessel, and many others whom I’ve learnt so much from. It’s difficult to calculate the value it’s added to my career in marketing and advertising.

Two years later, I graduated from Red & Yellow as the second top student and have continued to build my advertising career. I’m now a Junior Designer at one of the world’s largest agencies, J. Walter Thompson Worldwide. I’ve also recently become one of the youngest judges at Creative Circle monthly awards, which has taught me how to critically analyse work done by agencies all over the country.

Red & Yellow taught me the importance of lifelong learning, so now I’m currently furthering my studies in marketing and advertising through Red & Yellow. My dream is always front of mind, to change the way people perceive the world through advertising, one drawing, animation and design at a time.

Want to know more about Wandile’s Learnership programme? You can here. Learnerships are key in effectively tacking unemployment, skill shortages, education crises and transformation in South Africa. Find out more about Learnerships.