In this article, I shall be profiling a very inspiring Zimbabwean digital artist – Nyasha ‘Huliodraws’ Warambwa. Just to give you a picture of his rapid rise to the global stage, this is what he recently posted on social media: “Literally started drawing a year ago. Today I am on a billboard in TIME SQUARE NEW YORK. Zim to the world…” At just 19 years of age has done work for the likes of Nicki Minaj, Drake, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, and Derek Chauvin, amongst others.

His New York Times piece is a drawing paying tribute to the late DMX, Tupac, Aaliyah, Kobe Bryant, Nipsey Hussle, and Chadwick Boseman titled “We will meet again”. Nyasha ‘Huliodraws’ Warambwa, is a 19-year-old illustrator or artist from Harare, Zimbabwe. He not too long ago concluded his Advanced Level studies at Gateway High School.

How It All Began

He started experimenting with digital art in 2017 after seeing lots of digital artists on Instagram. He characterises his art style as vector art; essentially he creates it using a keyboard, a mouse, and a pen tool. He says that he is self-taught, something he did through watching tutorial videos on YouTube. He has also been inspired by other talented artists from abroad. In getting into the big league, he considers the Bart Simpson piece that he did for Chris Brown as his take off. This artwork got Chris Brown to actually get in touch with him.

On Getting His ‘We Will Meet Again’ Piece On A Billboard In Times Square, NY

He says that someone direct messaged him on Instagram and they liked the piece so much that they offered to put it up for free. This is most probably what put him on the map and it is refreshing to see how he made sure to reference he is from Zimbabwe.

His First NFT

He recently minted his first NFT on OpenSea. He is yet to make a sale on it but he is confident he will make one soon. If you follow my articles you will recall that I once did an article on what NFTs are. NFTs are non-fungible tokens; you can check out the article here. Personally, I have seen there is so much Zimbabwean talent when it comes to digital art. I strongly feel that Zimbabwean digital artists must seriously consider the NFTs route. You never know, you could make thousands or even millions of dollars.

Notable Celebrities He Has Done Work For

He has done some work for Chris Brown in the past. For example, he did the cover for the remix to his song Go Crazy. He is also currently working on more work for Chris Brown but is not at liberty to share more details due to non-disclosure agreements. He has also done work for music artists in the UK, Canada, and the US. He once did the cover art for Kap G’s Nana song and also did some art for Tory Lanez.

How It Has Been So Far

Presently he says he is not facing any challenges. He has managed to establish a good support base. In the past, there were definitely challenges he faced, for instance, a lack of local support for his art. The internet is something that has opened up so many doors for him. I suppose this is a case in point for many artists and even entrepreneurs out there. It is extremely important to establish an active online presence; it can take you places without physically having to travel anywhere.

Interesting Highlights Of His Journey So Far

There is something really interesting that he mentions about how his success has panned out. Typically in life, you would expect people to cheer you on when you achieve certain things right? Well, he remarks that his accomplishments have culminated in some of his friends abandoning him. He says that one of the reasons behind that is the notion by some of his former friends that he now has an inflated ego.

Quite on the contrary, he feels that he has been misinterpreted since he does not consider himself to have such an ego. He also feels it could be that they now feel intimidated or are envious because of his global successes. All this has led him to make some changes to what he posts on social media and what he does not post. He now desists from posting every notable accomplishment he makes.

His Concerns On The Zimbabwean Arts Industry

Huliodraws points out a huge concern that I know affects most budding artists and even entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, people tend to only celebrate and acknowledge norms or traditional things or ways of doing things. Times are constantly changing and as such new trends emerge. He says it seems in Zimbabwe people would rather stick with the old and not embrace emerging trends. It is akin to people preferring to stay in their comfort zones and not leaping faith into new territories.

He also highlights that not enough or no spotlight at all is shone on established artists or those breaking new ground. He has noted that it is much easier to get overwhelming support on social media. However, when it comes to mainstream media e.g. radio and television, getting the much-needed support is a tall order. He says that some international magazines have approached him on documenting his story yet here in Zimbabwe it is not the same.

Clearly, he has been getting more attention and appreciation from outside the country especially when it comes to media coverage. These are all very valid concerns that need to be addressed. No wonder why I am profiling him so that we get to celebrate our own. He encourages everyone to be confident and put out their content; it will inspire others to emerge. You can get in touch with him on Instagram @huliodraws, on Twitter and you can also email him at huliodraws@gmail.com.