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In our continuous effort to improve the deviantART experience, we're publishing weekly Site Updates to keep members informed and to gather feedback. Below is a list of recent changes to the site, bug fixes, and feedback that was brought up by members in the last Site Update.

Change Log

  • When viewing a deviant's Featured gallery folder from the "Browse Folder” link on the Gallery Folder widget on their Profile Page, the Featured folder would not display as intended. Fixed by elhsmart
  • The Popular and Undiscovered browse modes were not available for Motion Books category. Re-added by ultramouse
  • The "Contribute Deviation" modal on a Group Gallery page could only be opened once per page load. Fixed by justgalym
  • The deviation selection option used in areas such as the "Contribute Deviation" modal would not render properly on smaller resolution screens. Fixed by shendykurnia

Your Feedback

Thank you for your feedback on last week's Site Update! Here's some of the feedback you left for us:
  • Responses to the Discuss topic varied, although most deviants who replied said they had not been to a convention or deviantMEET. 
  • Of the deviants who did say they've gone to conventions or deviantMEETs, some of the most frequently mentioned include Ohayocon, Boston Comic-Con, and the MCM London Comic Con. A few deviants also mentioned attending one of the stops on the 2009 deviantART World Tour!
  • SimplySilent posted a suggestion regarding when new threads are created in the Forums:
New Forum Threads by SimplySilent


Message Center Feedback

When replying to items in your Message Center, what section(s) of the Message Center are you least likely to respond to, or most likely to delete without acting on? Is there a specific reason why you choose to delete those without replying?

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:bug: Find a bug? Report it to the Help Desk! (Be as detailed as possible!)

In our continuous effort to improve the deviantART experience, we're publishing weekly Site Updates to keep members informed and to gather feedback. Below is a list of recent changes to the site, bug fixes, and feedback that was brought up by members in the last Site Update.

deviantART is at Comic-Con!

    DeviantART is at Comic-Con -- right now!  Every year, Comic-Con International: San Diego hosts a huge gallery of artists in what's known as Artists' Alley, and we couldn't be more excited to sponsor the Alley for the fourth year in a row.  Our aim has always been to keep focus on those who not only make the entire convention possible, but provide us with a world of entertainment across all media: the artists.

    At Comic-Con? View our list of panels.

    Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with all of our Comic-Con happenings!


    BtXcKxLCcAAAplV by danlev
    Legendary Pictures interviews spyed about the history of deviantART, with a special appearance by our very own Fella! 

    Change Log

    • Interstitial ads were unintentionally closing deviations on the homepage. Fixed by ArtBIT
    • Some newly recovered groups had trouble with the comments display on their profile pages. Fixed by outgoingcoyote
    • Writer documents did not display embedded animated gifs from stash when rendered, only in preview mode. Fixed by Alisey
    • DeviantID profile widget had issue with undesired text centering. Fixed by elhsmart


    Conventions & deviantMEETs
    Have you ever attended a convention or deviantMEET? What are some of the events you've attended and which have been your favorite?

    :lightbulb: Have a suggestion, idea, or feedback? Leave a comment here!
    :lightbulb: Check out a list of common suggestions!
    :lightbulb: Want to keep track of known issues? Check out our Status Forum!
    :bug: Find a bug? Report it to the Help Desk(Be as detailed as possible!)

    Milk for The Ugly

    Tue Jul 22, 2014, 9:36 PM

    of Beauty

    Imagine that you are a young social worker, dedicated to finding out the hidden and forgotten old souls who haunt the cold, mean streets of the city. You seek to report on their living conditions, possibly recommending they be removed from their roach-infested “homes.”

    So it is that you have come to find yourself sitting at the kitchen table of a cadaverous old shut-in you’ve been assigned to visit. The kitchen is spotlessly pristine while the adjoining darkened living room reeks of rotting garbage.

    The sun is setting. You rise to leave. You step over a cardboard barrier separating kitchen from living room, seeking the front door. But it is too late. They have risen. The old woman’s many “children” are awake... and they are hungry.

    Let us pause here...
 this preview of the new Madefire Motion Book experience, Milk for The Ugly, to tell you about the two longtime deviant artists who have created this remarkable achievement in storytelling.

    In any case, no prose preview could begin to do justice to the Madefire experience of shifting illustrations in a fully soundtracked narrative. Milk for The Ugly truly has to be experienced to be really appreciated.

    Anna & Kate

    Rarely do artists of the deviantART community exemplify the skill, creativity, spirit and sheer arts career tenacity of Anna & Kate, the deviants we profile here, who have become, singularly and when working as a team, favorites and real role models within our community.

    Anna Podedworna (akreon) & Kate Redesiuk (vesner) were born and raised in similar households in Poland by similarly “overachieving” parents who wanted only the best lives for their daughters, both girls being told, “You can choose whatever you want to be in the future, as long as it is a doctor, a lawyer or an architect.” Anna, being torn between natural science and the fine arts, chose a compromise in pursuing architecture. Kate was “persuaded” to choose architecture by her parents, who just happened to work in construction. Anna & Kate met over doodlings of mutant zombie bunnies at the university. Drawn together by their similarly off-kilter tastes in illustration, they eventually became roommates hooked on digital art, working on projects together.

    During their time at the university they learned from one another and their roles started to slowly reverse. Ann grew to like the technical part of architecture, and Kate got more and more into art.

    Anna works as a freelance artists while finishing her masters degree. As a freelancer she has worked on illustrations, comics and recently gotten into the world of fashion by working for Ewa Minge and creating a few designs series for her new brand Eva Minge Milano. Once she gets her master degree she wants to get back into architecture and continue pursuing her career as an architect.

    Kate dropped out from the university just before becoming an engineer, after realizing she was living someone else’s dream. She decided to become a professional artist. At first she worked as a freelance illustrator for advertising companies but has now made her way into the game development industry and works full-time as a concept artist at CD Projekt RED.

    Anna & Kate are known by their deviant followers to sometimes to embody and inhabit their peculiar alter egos, “Pugbun,” a bunny-eared pug dog and “Tailcat,” a cat with a second head on the end of her tail.

    Battles over unwashed dishes and strewn crayons have led to war between the two characters. Pugbun of Pugbunistan usually upholds the Anna banner, with TailCat of Tailcatica being a spokescat for Kate’s positions.


    But it is Off-White, the ongoing adventure tale of a wolf clan on a mythic journey that has become a phenomenon for Anna & Kate as their premier collaboration. This project began as an experiment, a 5-page one-shot, but generated such a warm reception from the community that more pages were created and soon the tale snowballed into it’s current six chapters. The success of the story has spun off its own group on deviantART and a product line of Off-White artwork and collectibles. What Anna & Kate have achieved here is truly an ongoing fulfillment of the deviantART community spirit put into action.

    Not satisfied to rest on their laurels, Anna & Kate have now raised the bar of comic storytelling by utilizing the cutting edge comics sound and motion technology of Madefire, in which illustrated panels come alive at the tap of your device’s monitor screen.

    This time out, as befits the subtle movements of light and shadow enabled by Madefire, Milk for The Ugly is more twisted to the playfully macabre tastes of creators, presenting what can be enjoyed as if it were a lost episode of The Twilight Zone. But upon deeper reflection, their little story would appear to be commenting upon modern times at several different levels. In this inside-out classic children’s cautionary tale, the terror in the “woods” has been transplanted to the environs of an urban apartment building.  The old crone’s face has been drawn to hint she might be Death him/her/its self, regenerating discarded half-eaten edibles into human-eating little monsters—making for a horrifying “cycle” of environmentally rational endless re-use.

    Or possibly the darling little girl’s rejection of the street hag at the tale’s beginning is simply meant to raise the question of who are the true “uglies” of society? It’s the sort of “instant classic” must-have story that will be returned to again and again by readers. Best of all, the creativity and stylistic artistry (especially in their characters’ facial expressions) achieved in Anna & Kate’s book makes Milk for The Ugly is one of the most beautiful Motion Books you’ll ever experience. It will no doubt be regarded as one of the seminal issues of the "new comics."

    Interviews with Anna & Kate

    1.As master storytellers and world builders with a wonderful and attentive fan base on deviantART; What excites you most about how Milk for The Ugly looks and feels in terms of storytelling for an audience?

    Art style in comics is a great tool of conveying mood and atmosphere of the story. We were very excited to try out a different style that isn't really signature for any of us. It's creepy and grungy, but also cartoony and expressive. It's a nice contrasts that hopefully makes the story feel even darker and more eerie.

    2.Can you share what you feel are the most important aspects of telling ongoing episodic stories? Specifically as it relates to cultivating a fan base?

    Since internet communities became a thing there have been tons of works written about cultivating fanbases. It takes a lot of time and effort but the theory is rather simple and can be narrowed down to a few most important points.

    To be successful be sure to update your story regularly, so fans have something to look forward to every one or two weeks. Stubbornness is the key here, especially with webcomics—it's hard to have a fan base with just one or two pages. The more and the better story you deliver, the more people are going to get hooked up.

    Be respectful to your readers and interact with them as often as possible. Answer questions, have fun in the comments, share your thoughts, organize small contests or giveaways.

    Try keeping a relatively consistent style of art and writing. It doesn't mean that all parts of the story have to have the same mood and/or art style but it's best to pick 1-3 genres and stick to them.

    Or just be like us—scrap the theory, do none of the above, and hope for the best.

    3.What are the essential elements of building a complex escalating story world? Order of importance of these elements?

    Have a top-down approach. When imagining your world, set a few basic rules for it and start from there.

    These rules can be anything from "all animals can speak with humans", through "rain raises instead of falling down" to "ghosts are real and everyone knows that."

    Build your story around it and keep questioning everything.”

    Make sure your story makes sense within your universe. Think what would happen if your rules were the same but the story different. Always come up with more than you want to tell. The world you build is as important as your story, and can greatly enhance it. The rules we set in our stories are usually bits taken from different mythologies from around the world. We don't like to hold to them too tightly though and usually try to twist and turn them in a way that makes the stories fresh and interesting.

    4.How does your process work as far as art creation and the actual writing of the story and dialogue?

    Story, art, dialogues. We love telling each other stories while drinking tea. We tell each other's ideas and come up with new ones on the fly. Having someone who listens to your stories is very important. There are always plot holes and mistakes that need to be patched up or reworked, so critique is always important. If you don't have a partner to work with in a team, tell stories to your friends, family or people on the internet. After the story is ready, we sit down and come up with art sequences that could illustrate it. Rough thumbnails showing what's most important to show in a given panel are enough to plan everything out.

    At this point we still don't have any specific dialogues, but rather a few important words that need to be spoken or emotions that need to be conveyed.

    Only after the art for the comic is done, we once again sit down and try to figure out what would each character say in a given situation.”

    Would they have the time for a few sentences or would they be too shocked to say anything at all? Would they use complicated words or simple ones? In some cases dialogues aren't even needed and the story tells itself by images alone.

    Milk For The Ugly Character Creation In SketchBook Pro

    Kate Redesiuk shows us how to create a character for Milk for The Ugly using SketchBook Pro.

    5.Do you see Motion Books online as the inevitable next level of our increasingly mobile society?

    It depends. Motion Books are a relatively new medium that still needs to be fully explored. On one hand they add a new value to the traditional comics, but on the other they require much more work. They have the potential for interactive storytelling, but could also go completely opposite direction and get closer to animation. It's all up to creators, and the more motion comics we get, the greater the chance for them to grow into something unique and irreplaceable.

    6.As visual artists telling a story, what is the most valuable storytelling innovation enabled by the Madefire process?

    Subtle movement! A gentle nod of the head, a flinch of the body, a twitch of an eye. In traditional comics it's incredibly hard to illustrate something that ephemeral without big close-ups or repetition. The motion tool makes it very easy and intuitive.

    7.Fans are most familiar with your work as a team on your wolf clan adventure epic, Off-White. But does the darkly humored Milk for The Ugly better reflect your comic sensibilities?

    We're very happy that we had the chance to work on something so different to our ongoing comic, but we honestly feel quite free in all sorts of different styles and stories. Off-White is a collaboration that is quite different from both our individual works and personal comic tastes. Milk for the Ugly brought together our joined love for dark and twisted stories, but on the other hand required a more work in finding a middle ground in terms of our art styles. Who knows what the next Madefire Motion Book collaboration between us will result in!

    8.Will Off-White continue for as long as fans ask for it, or until you decide your own logical end for it?

    Off-White is planned from start all way to its definite end. Our fans will know for sure which page is the very last one in the series.

    9.How are Pugbun & Tailcat getting along? Or is that stalemate situation best left uncommented on?

    Anna Kate'sArtists You Better Be Watching

    Pascal Campion


    “Pascal's works may seem simple at first glance but that seeming simplicity is what makes me love his art so much. Thanks to his minimalistic approach the amazing array of emotions he puts into each painting shines trough even more brilliantly. Every of his paintings tells more story than many movies or books can only dream of.”


    Yoann Lossel


    “All of Yoann's works are heavy in atmosphere. His unique technique of mixing graphite and gold is simply an epitome of class.”


    Stephanie Pui-Mun Law


    “My favorite contemporary watercolorists hands down. Her paintings are rich in detail, colors and texture. I especially love when she approaches mythological themes in her artwork. She has this wonderful gift to make the stories she illustrates seem satisfactorily familiar and at the same time amazingly fresh.”




    “I'm always impressed with how Levente Peterffy can archive realism with the simplest of brush strokes. In every one of his painting you can find a very creative texturing, strong composition and moody lighting.”


    Noah Bradley


    “Noah Bradley is not only an incredible artist but also an amazing teacher. The advice he shares on his blog helped me grow as an artist and allowed me to become a successful freelancer.”


    Hannah Christenson


    “Hannah Christenson is by far one of my favorite illustrators. Thanks to the finesse of lines and incredibly tasteful details, her art is always full of life and emotion”


    Serge Birault


    “My daily dose of beautiful women and tentacles. Serge's art never ceases to amaze me with how clean and fresh it looks without losing its realism. I'm in love with his unique stylization and lighthearted approach to all of his works.”


    Michal Ivan


    “Michal is a master of color and composition. He tames and controls chaos, creating incredibly detailed and yet perfectly clear compositions that flawlessly lead the viewer's eyes.”


    A revolution in digital comics

    When future anniversary celebrations mark the release of Madefire Motion Book Tool, much will be made of “under-the-radar” revolution this event precipitated in the creation, production and delivery cycle of content distribution.

    With the Madefire Motion Book Tool on deviantART the artist controls the full creative, production and distribution chain, making it possible to self-publish digital comics for free or for pay, in motion or static, with or without effects, episodic or periodic. But it is really any “book” form that has become liberated—the Full Spectrum Narrative comes to life. And fans are empowered as well to directly engage in the the equivalent format with their favorite stories.

    A new dawn is breaking in the online digital and mobile comics world—and Madefire is leading the creative caravan into the new day.

    Questions For The Reader

    1. Have you had to make hard decisions between pleasing those who care about you in your family and following instead your own path to achievement no matter how difficult your chances might be?
    2. Who would you choose to have your alter ego or avatar befriend choosing between Anna & Kate’s Pugbun & Tailcat?
    3. Do you have an alter ego who can talk on your behalf. If you do, please place a picture in the comments?
    4. Motion Books open up a new medium between storyboards and animation. What would be the perfect fit for this medium?

    In our continuous effort to improve the deviantART experience, we're publishing weekly Site Updates to keep members informed and to gather feedback. Below is a list of recent changes to the site, bug fixes, and feedback that was brought up by members in the last Site Update.

    Change Log

    • The Twitter widget for Profile Pages was not visually displaying correctly on wider screens. Fixed by justgalym
    • When browsing content in, the "Previous" and "Next" buttons would not work after editing a file's description. Fixed by elhsmart
    • For deviants with wider browsers, the search bar on the Chat portal would appear numerous times. Fixed by shendykurnia
    • The "Forgot password?" page was not usable on mobile devices. Fixed by ultramouse
    • The "Change Username" modal would not show properly after an error message was displayed. Fixed by ultramouse
    • Files in would have "Click to Add Description" included in their description, even after description text was added. Fixed by elhsmart
    • From time to time, an unnecessary horizontal scrollbar would appear on the mobile website. Fixed by shendykurnia
    • It was possible to enable downloads when submitting Motion Books, even though that would only trigger the thumbnail being downloaded. Fixed by DEVlANT

    Your Feedback

    Thank you for the feedback on last week's Site Update! Here's some of what you had to say.
    • Deviants were pleased about the launch of the Motion Book Tool. 
    • In response to the Discuss topic, some deviants mentioned using Scraps as a place to keep older work as an archive of sorts, while others mentioned using it for works-in-progress, doodles, or things they want to include in a Journal without including it in their main Gallery.
    • While most deviants mentioned never moving things from Scraps into their main Gallery, a few deviants mentioned that when using it to host works-in-progress, they'll update the main file of that deviation with the completed work, and then move it to their Gallery from there.


    Taking a Hiatus

    Have you ever taken a hiatus from the Internet (be it on deviantART or elsewhere)? If so, what was your reasoning for doing so? What brought you back from that hiatus, if anything?

    Lightbulb Have a suggestion, idea, or feedback? Leave a comment here!
    Lightbulb Check out a list of common suggestions!
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    :bug: Find a bug? Report it to the Help Desk! (Be as detailed as possible!)

    Nelson Mandela

    When image must speak for the silenced voice


    Ruth is the Editor-In-Chief of MILK Books and PQ Blackwell Ltd., based in Auckland, New Zealand, publishers of Mandela: The Authorized Portrait—a photographic history of the great man. Ruth's heartfelt and insightful article represents the intersection of the artistic and the newsworthy. DepthRADIUS is honored to present Ruth's memories of Nelson Mandela as well as her as well as a unique perspective on his mastery of image and visual communication. From round the other side of the world, thank you, Ruth, and welcome to depthRADIUS!

    DepthRADIUS is proud to present this remembrance of Nelson Mandela by guest reporter Ruth Hobday as part of the July 18 international celebration of what would have been Mandela's 96th birthday.  Nelson Mandela, the anti-apartheid revolutionary and one of the great moral and political leaders of our time, dedicated his life to fighting racial oppression and remarkably forged peace in South Africa.

    Ruth Hobday

    Quote by Nelson Mandela

    “During the worst years of repression, when all avenues of legitimate protest were closed by emergency legislation, it was the arts that articulated the plight and the democratic aspirations of our people.”

    The Power of Art & Photographs

    of Nelson Mandela in the

    Transformation of South Africa

    by Ruth Hobday

    Nelson Mandela
    Mandela poses in a traditional kaross after his arrest in 1962.Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archive/Eli Weinberg

    In August of 2004, our boutique publishing house in New Zealand, PQ Blackwell, received an e-mail informing us that Mr. Nelson Mandela had granted us permission to produce the definitive illustrated book on his life, Mandela: The Authorized Portrait.

    That message remains the single most exciting moment of my working life and it marked the beginning of my involvement with a man who had always been a personal hero. I was a trifle overawed and approached my new role with enormous trepidation.

    When I first met Mandela, I heard him long before I saw him. He was coming down the corridor at the Nelson Mandela Foundation that separated his private office from the formal sitting room where he received guests, and he was joking around with his assistant, Zelda la Grange. He had a deep, booming voice, filled with laughter and, it seemed to me as we waited rather nervously in the sitting room, the voice of a much younger man than the 87-year old I was expecting.

    When he entered he was leaning heavily on Zelda’s arm and I was to learn later that the great icon’s knees had become so bad he could barely walk without assistance. Mandela, however, steadfastly refused to use a walking stick because it would make him appear frail and, as it became quickly clear to me during our conversation, there was nothing frail about the warmth of his welcome, his quick and ready wit or his obvious affection for his former cellmates.

    I have spent some considerable time looking at images of Mandela. Every piece of art, every representation of Mandela I could find, was based on a photograph. Clearly this makes sense… it’s rather hard to ask one of the world’s most famous people to sit for you, particularly if, as in his case, he was rather enjoying his retirement. But it did make me remember Mr. Mandela’s knees, and think about his stubborn insistence on not using a cane: to wonder about Mandela’s desire to control his image; how his life and his immense presence on the cultural and political map of the late 20th and early 21st centuries can be understood through those representations.

    To better understand Mandela’s desire to project a certain exterior image of himself as a source of empowerment, we must reflect on events that shaped Mandela from an early age. He grew up in the Eastern Cape of South Africa at the knee of his father, a respected advisor to the Chief Regent of the Thembu people who meted out ‘justice under a tree’ in the age-old African practice of people gathering beneath a tree to discuss important matters. When Nelson’s father died, the acting king of the AbaThembu people became the 12-year-old boy’s legal guardian. It was there in the royal household that Mandela learned the incredible power of image and imagery. One of the young Mandela’s tasks was to press the king’s many suits, and he learned the king’s attention to his wardrobe was not simply one of vanity; it was about dignity and self-worth. It was also about projecting an image of himself as a leader. This was a man who, in the rural Eastern Cape of the 1920s, would travel amongst his people in the back of a chauffeur-driven Ford wearing a three-piece suit and hat. A more impressive display of his royal status would be hard to imagine.

    A film still from ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ depicting the regent in his chauffeur driven car.

    Keith Bernstein/Long Walk to Freedom (Pty) Ltd.

    Early on in his legal career as a young ‘man about town’ Mandela knew that his own car and expensive suits were going to be important accessories in establishing his status as a successful attorney and up-and-coming politician.

    The young Mandela’s stylishness was more than vanity. It was about his control of his image. This was a projection of himself and his position at a time when writing or voicing any kind of opposition to the apartheid government was forbidden by law. The dignity of his wardrobe and his bearing cried out in their contrast with his silenced voice in a way more powerful than a protest chant rising from the impoverished streets.

    Nelson Mandela
    Mandela as a young law clerk in Johannesburg, 1953.Ahmed Kathrada/Herbert Shore

    Mandela the Advocate became “Mandela the Chief” when he arrived in court after his arrest in 1962. By this evolution in his rebellion, Mandela had been a wanted man for some time and the white South African press had dubbed him the ‘Black Pimpernel’ after the fictional ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ of the French Revolution. Arriving in court to be charged, he chose to dress in a traditional kaross instead of his trademark suit to proclaim the heritage and history of his people. The effect on the crowds of onlookers was electrifying and, as he was hauled off to prison to await trial, the call and response cries of “Amandla!” (“Power!”) “Ngawethu!” (“Is ours!”) were taken up in the streets. The Black Pimpernel may have been captured but he was now the hero of the people. Unknown to most of them was the fact that Mandela hadn’t been able to get hold of an actual kaross, traditionally made from a leopard-skin, but instead Winnie had provided him with one made out of jackal skins stitched together.

    Another important decision made by this people’s leader—suddenly facing the next 27 years separated from his people on Robben Island—was the decision to grow a beard. His more conservative African National Congress comrades were wary of the more provocative radical look. Mandela remained steadfast and his creation of a new ‘Mandela the Revolutionary’ look became the enduring image of him throughout his Robben Island incarceration. According to friend, comrade, and fellow prisoner Ahmed Kathrada, who occupied the cell next to Mandela’s on Robben Island, “By the time he went underground in 1961, his most recognizable feature was his beard. Among other things he had to forsake his stylish and expensive clothing. But above all he had to shave his beard. He agreed to most suggestions but simply refused to shave.” A photograph of Mandela taken at an Algerian training camp earlier in 1962, complete with a revolutionary’s beard, made him one of the most instantly recognizable figures in the world and led to him being dubbed The Black Pimpernel. Ironically it was this same image that became the touchstone of the international anti-apartheid movement.

    Nelson Mandela
    “Release Nelson Mandela” Poster 1.South African History Archives, courtesy Historical Papers, University of the Witwatersrand Library

    Nelson Mandela
    “Release Nelson Mandela” Poster 3.South African History Archives, courtesy Historical Papers, University of the Witwatersrand Library

    The ‘Black Pimpernel’ image forms part of the backdrop to the 1988 concert at London’s Wembley Stadium, 26 years after it was taken.

    Robben Island Museum Mayibuye Archive/IDAF Collection

    Once he was jailed, Mandela had been silenced.

    Nelson Mandela
    “Release Nelson Mandela” PosterSouth African History Archives, courtesy Historical Papers, University of the Witwatersrand Library

    Even quoting Mandela in South Africa became a criminal offence, so the only available voice became an artistic one. The ‘Mandela the Revolutionary’ photo became a template for art that called for an end to apartheid. It also became the basis for thousands of international campaigns around the world that used it on posters advertising anti-apartheid meetings and rallies, and at fundraisers and concerts such as the watershed concert at London’s Wembley Stadium in July 1988 celebrating Mandela’s 70th birthday.

    One sometimes looks back on history as being somehow inevitable. But was Mandela’s eventual release and the dismantling of apartheid inevitable? Perhaps, but what is absolutely clear is that Mandela’s beard and the ‘Mandela the Revolutionary’ images became the most potent symbols of the worldwide movement that eventually made the inevitable actually occur. Artists used these images, re-interpreted them, added their own artistic vision, and plastered the streets with these re-imagined Mandelas, and in turn played an important role in contributing to the international pressure that led to Mandela’s liberation and the collapse of the racist and oppressive regime that had incarcerated him.

    Mandela recognized this only too well, saying after his release,

    “During the worst years of repression, when all avenues of legitimate protest were closed by emergency legislation, it was the arts that articulated the plight and the democratic aspirations of our people.”

    It was Art in the form of those shared images carrying his message to the people. It was Art that had the power to transmit that message around the globe. It was Art that helped shape and change South Africa and the world for the better. And this should be something worth noting by present day artists.

    Nelson Mandela
    Nelson Mandelaby rolandtelema

    Nelson Mandela
    INVICTUSby MarkRaats

    Being an artist can be a lonely business. There are times when an artist wonders if what they do is either worthwhile or important and times when not creating art can seem a much easier prospect than continuing. But, as the artistic renderings of Mandela show, art and images have power, and that power can change the world. One need look no further than the Banksy-inspired graffiti on the streets of the world's largest cities to see how artists continue to fight oppression with the power of shared images. Or the Mandela/Obama ‘Hope’ poster mash-up with its collision of images and meaning that extends their once individual use as a means to continue to convey ideas. Today, more than ever perhaps, art continues to be one of our most important and powerful voices and, thanks to the free and unfettered sharing of images in communities such as deviantART, individuals are able to distribute their art more quickly than ever in order to exchange ideas and effect change.

    To return to The Black Pimpernel and his infamous beard, it is interesting to note that this particular image is seldom, if ever, used as a template by today’s artists. This may be because upon his release Mandela created a new image, a new persona for himself; one that immediately consigned his beard to the back catalogue of history. As Mandela completed his long walk to freedom in 1990 he left prison in a crisp white shirt, suit and tie, arm raised and fist clenched in victory. He had become ‘Mandela the Politician’ and was soon to become ‘Mandela the President’.

    This was not, however, the end of Mandela’s powerful use of wardrobe and image.

    At the 1995 Rugby World Cup Final Mandela chose to manipulate his image once again. Rugby was the sport of choice for the white Afrikaner population and the jersey of the Springboks, South Africa’s national rugby team, was a strong source of Afrikaner pride. This, in turn, had made it a symbol of white oppression for the black population during years of the apartheid regime. When Mandela walked onto the pitch to greet the victorious South African team at the end of the game wearing that jersey, he captured the hearts of the largely white Afrikaner crowd and in so doing toppled one of last remaining barriers to reconciliation in South Africa without saying a word.

    Mandela dons a Springbok rugby jersey at the 1995 Rugby World Cup final.

    Picturenet Africa/Paul Velasco

    After his retirement Mandela adopted his now famous ‘personality’ shirts that signified a more approachable, less political figure.

    Nelson Mandela
    Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday with Nelson Mandela, Johannesburg 2006.Nelson Mandela Foundation/PQ Blackwell

    Nelson Mandela
    Mandela wearing one of his famous ‘personality’ shirts with longtime friend and comrade Ahmed Kathrada.Nelson Mandela Foundation/Debbie Yazbek

    It is these ‘Mandela the Elder Statesman’ shirts that most of us now remember him by. It was what he was wearing the day I first met him. I was shaking with nerves, of course, but the combination of colorful shirt, immense charm, and his delightful, somewhat mischievous sense of humor put me completely at my ease. It’s always daunting to meet your heroes but it’s an intensely gratifying experience when you discover they are everything you’d hoped they’d be and much, much more.

    It was ‘Mandela the Elder Statesman’ I met that day. An old man stubbornly refusing to bend to the tyranny of his aging knees but also a man who had always been keenly aware of his image and its various meanings. Advocate, Chief, Revolutionary, President, Unifier, Elder—all images carefully thought out and deployed as vital tools in the struggle against, and victory over, apartheid. I feel tremendously grateful to have had the subsequent privilege of working on a number of books based on his life and his writings over the last decade of his life until his passing last year.

    Since that moment he has been transformed one final time, into ‘Mandela the Icon’.

    July 18 has been designated Nelson Mandela Day to “inspire individuals to take action to help change the world for the better, and to empower communities everywhere.” The message behind the campaign is simple—that each individual has the ability and responsibility to impact positive change every day. Indeed, the image of Mandela walking free from prison in 1990, fist held triumphantly in the air, is the basis for the official Nelson Mandela Day logo — a powerful graphic derived from Mandela’s very last steps in his own personal ‘long walk to freedom’.

    Nelson Mandela

    Mandela spent more than 67 years serving his community, his country and the world. This number is symbolic of how people can start to do the same—one small step at a time—and in so doing become part of a continuous, global movement for good. I invite you to use 67 minutes today, tomorrow, and the day after that, to create or share art that reminds us that we can all make a difference, however big or small, and make every day a ‘Mandela Day.’

    Because, ultimately, it’s not only the creation of art, but the sharing of it that makes it so potent. Sharing and distributing your art empowers it as a vital and important tool for change and reminds us that as long as we have art, we have a voice.

    “Good art is invariably universal and timeless.”

    Nelson Mandela, from a letter to his daughter, Zindzi Mandela, written on Robben Island.

    Let it Ring Out Forever

    There is a name, three syllables, that is a totem, a poem, a song of liberation and freedom that every day lifts lives pinioned by barbed wire and disappeared behind walls of cold stone. It is a name that sparks a burst of light in the brain of she who speaks it or he who hears it—a burst of illumination lighting pathways out of oppression that eschew violence in favor of the more powerful truth and strength of peaceful and creative protest.

    There is a name for a man whose living example burst asunder the invisible manacles of enslaved millions in their own lands. That man’s “long walk” has now crossed him over from living role model to global spiritual legend.


    May it ring like a garland of brightly burning bells revolving in our minds and guiding our hearts. DeviantART salutes Nelson Mandela and all those whose life’s art, like Mandela’s example, steadily cut like purifying streams of water through the hardest stone of prison walls.

    Ours is a time of petrified ideology, non-negotiation and deafness hailed as strength. It is a time when we need not despair of any forward progress. We have the life of Mandela to guide our efforts, our art and our lives. In facing impossible obstruction with joy in our hearts—this is how we do honor to the great man.

    Mandela! Let it ring out forever.

    MILK Books is donating 67 cents for everyone who joins its database, plus the chance to receive one of five framed gallery prints from the Nelson Mandela Quotations Collection featuring original artwork based on Mandela’s words.


    For The Reader

    1. How have you experience racism in your own life?
    2. Can art be used to cure racism?
    3. How did you first become aware of Nelson Mandela and his struggle to free South Africa from apartheid?
    4. Have you ever created and displayed art as an expression of protest? Do you think your artwork amplified your message? Better than a manifesto? Did you feel liberated in artistically presenting a political expression? Did you feel in any way endangered?
    5. What’s the most powerful protest you’ve ever witnessed in your lifetime?

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