Travel Encounters – Johnathan, an Artist and Entrepreneur in Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, South Africa
At “Into the Kruger”, Johnathan creates art with just two ingredients – ballpoint pen and canvas! Just walking by his store in Kruger Mpumalanga Airport, I was mesmerized by minimalistic simplicity and the realistic perfection of his art. Johnathan demonstrates that an artist can create masterpieces with basic supplies, talent, and skill.
The Inspiration for Into the Kruger
The pieces in Johnathan’s gallery showcase wildlife from Kruger National Park such as a lion’s face, acacia tree, a buffalo etc. He told us that wife, Emma loves Kruger National Park so they spend a lot of time in the park. I feel that simply living in this unique destination would provide the inspiration to draw these beautiful creatures. But it takes more than inspiration to create art and have a viable business around it – it takes a lot of hard work and understanding of the market.
In addition to ballpoint pictures, Johnathan creates many other pieces with paint and color. In his stores, he focuses on styles that sell more, which is the ballpoint art representing wildlife from Kruger.
Johnathan started creating art when he was a little kid and tried many mediums and formats. Over the years, he has mastered the process of creating art with ballpoint pens.
He works with very few supplies –
- A picture or an idea in his mind.
- A ballpoint pen with ink that doesn’t fade with time.
- A very high-quality art canvas imported from Germany that doesn’t age and stays fresh over time, even when displayed in galleries and hotel lobbies for a long time.
The Creative process
Johnathan starts with a plain canvas and a picture. He etches the shape on the canvas with the back of his ballpoint pen creating barely enough markings for him to see.
Then he starts squiggling a pattern to fill in the picture. He works with the density of the squiggles to create the effect he wants to achieve. As a perfectionist, he even goes over the outline with small squiggles. So, the etching is covered and there isn’t the slights clue of any lines. All that remains are the ballpoint squirrels.
Into The Kruger – Outlets
Johnathan has two locations. We visited the only one in Kruger Mpumalanga Airport.
Kruger Mpumalanga Airport
The Kruger Mpumalanga Airport has signs everywhere saying that it’s the best airport in Southern Africa. Comparing the at two airports we visited in Kruger – Skukuza Airport inside Kruger and Mpumalanga Airport outside Kruger, I would say Skukuza is totally one of a kind, the prettiest airport I’ve seen.
Kruger Mpumalanga is beautiful with the traditional African vibe. It has some lovely art stores for shopping.
The surrounding area has a very African landscape with native vegetation and construction style.
We spent a few hours at the Kruger Mpumalanga airport chatting with many artists, staff, and tourists (including one group of Indians from New York City).
It was the end of our first phase and 5th day of an amazing 14 days in Southern Africa trip.