People: Interview with digital artist David Zinyama

People: Interview with digital artist David Zinyama

Name: David Zinyama

Creative medium: digital artist, photography, web design and development

Twitter: @davidzinyama Instagram: @davidzinyama 

David Zinyama, 25, a recent graduate has gained a notable following from his well crafted photoshop images where he places himself in the images instead of famous celebrities. Flawlessly, may we add. To date you would be fooled to think that he has accompanied Beyonce on the red carpet, kissed Kim Kardashian and Michelle Obama, hung out with Nicki Minaj and Rihanna. He is a freelance art director and consultant and client list includes NHS, BBC, ITV, MOBO Awards, Unicef and Metropolitan Police. 

David, its great to talk to you! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?

Hey Creative Arts, thank you very much for the opportunity to interview me, I really appreciate it. I’m a freelance art director and visual consultant specialising in graphic design. My work is based around providing services such as digital and print designs, identity and branding, web design and development, photography, and more. I’ve done projects for individuals, small, and also large businesses across the globe. An aspect of me which is popular is the digital artist side of me as a retoucher and manipulator - I’m sure that is something I shouldn’t expand on now as you will have some questions for me regarding that which I am happy to answer.

What’s your day-to-day life like as a freelancer?

My day-to-day life as a freelancer can be pretty hectic; the way I start of my day from the moment I wake up is to refuel myself ready for work. After this it is a bit all over the place because of a lot of things that I have to manage such as checking my emails, new messages from social networks, I have to be on the ball of this all time and make sure that everyone is replied to otherwise if I do not respond, the messages will just pile up. After checking my emails I then move on to my to do list, I have to prioritise all my projects in terms of when a design has to be sent to a client by, for feedback before I can put my eyes on another one. I am an art director so I do have work that I assign to some of my team members so I check up on the developments being created, update clients, etc. It is very impossible for a designer’s or freelancer’s day to be structured for example I can wake up today and decide I want to visit a networking event instead of working on a certain project, or what work I want to work on today whether it be web design, retouching or research. The only part, which is very crucial everyday, is project and time management.

How do you stay motivated as a freelancer?

Coming from an African background or even family where graphic design is over looked upon, I have had to make it work which I thank God everyday that I was able to do so because not everybody is successful in this creative field. I will never take the opportunity and blessings upon me for granted – I just know for that fact I need to keep going. I also feed of other people for motivation, those are doing great things in the world, and their hard work pushes me and inspires me.


What inspired you to photoshop yourself into celebrity images?

Believe it or not this was actually something I did for entertainment and when I had free time for those that follow me and to actually take my retouching skills to a new level from practising the art of manipulation and digital art to promote myself. It was not something I intended for people to know me for but the work I did generated an on growing fan base and the more and more I manipulated images, not only did I get better at the art form but I attracted a lot of people from potential clients who want to work with me, celebrities that follow me, etc. 

Have you had any negative reactions to it?

On occasion you get someone that likes to leave negative comments on my work as to why would I want to manipulate myself standing next to Michelle Obama, or why would I want to manipulate myself kissing someone’s wife, mainly these reactions come from feminists, they do not see anything funny about it like the rest of my followers do. If you look across all my work, this is what I am known for, it almost seems like my celebrity pictures have over shadowed my original artwork but at the same time – I have always been someone that loves to cause controversy throughout my works or raise opinions amongst people.

What’s it like when celebrities notice your work?

It is the most amazing feeling ever, especially when it is a celebrity that comes across a picture of myself and them and I have them confused. I have no more words for this but it truly is amazing – even when they start following you, it is a sign that I am doing great work and to keep going. It’s motivating.

We love your Snapchat tutorials, how did that come about?

Thank you, this idea actually came about from a lot of people asking me to do tutorials for YouTube , etc. Honestly speaking, because of business – this is something I will never, well for now do not have time for so I decided to do exclusive tutorials, or rather as I called them live manipulations which where basically easier as when I had time and an idea came to my head I will broadcast it over snapchat and show people my process as to how I executed some of my work from showing the space I was shooting my photographs, the equipment I was using, step by step editing from picture selection, digital painting, retouching, etc. – to the final image.

Congratulations on your recent graduation! We were wondering if you had any advice for those who were considering a university degree in a creative field? Do you think it’s worth it from your personal experience? 

Thank you ever so much. I will pretty much say I came from a background where I got in to graphic design or got myself involved in business / trying to seek for clients from the age of 16 which was after my A-Levels, I was in situations where the people I wanted to provide my services for where after someone with a qualification. You can say that if I was bidding for a job and there were two applicants – regardless whether my work was better than the other person but the difference between me and the other guy is that he had a qualification and I did not, clients assumed that he knew better. This was a main reason as to why I decided to take the educational route in graphic design but it gets to a point where your work starts getting globally recognised and the tables reverse so its more like now the work over shadows the qualification.

From a personal level, my journey was different, like I said – I am self taught and with that being said I did not learn anything practical in College or Uni. But what I did learn was the theory part of design. I never knew anything about art movements or the history of design until I went to Uni. This is not something, which can be applied to any work, but it is great useful as art movements can be seen in people’s works. To be honest with you, it is a great achievement that I have a university degree but at the same time I do not think I will ever use it.

Who has been your greatest influence in your work?

I cannot really say there is someone who has been the greatest influence on my work but there is a digital artist by the name of Michael O, you can Google him! I used to look at his work over and over and wonder how the hell does one get a picture and completely transform it in to something completely different. His concepts and ideas – even up to now for someone on my level, I question some of his work as to how did he execute certain pieces of his artwork. It is just amazing, I will suggest you look him up and tell me what you think also. |

What can we expect to see from you over the next couple of years, any big plans/dreams?

Let me just keep it short and say do not sleep on me, I got big things coming, I have been quiet for a while but I am coming back next year with a bang. The main focus now is all about growth and progression – with that brings new opportunities and opens brand new doors. That is the focus.

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