Front row with Rofhiwa "ROF" Kutama
My next interviewee for the FRM Blog is a hypertalented emerging creative. A hybrid between a photographer, fashion designer & more, Rofhiwa Kutama, aka "ROF", is now based in Cape Town, but is born and bred in Limpopo.
And I think his hometown of Louis Trichardt played a pivotal role in shaping his creative pallet – acting as an isolated platform in which he could experiment with other like-minded creatives. I think there is so much value which lies within that – being born and raised in a small town. It can really allow you to take risks & establish your own niché, create your own voice and your own community. This is precisely what ROF managed to do.
Fast forward to his current Cape Town journey and he is really doing it all. From shooting collaborations with retail brands such as Redbat, working with artists like K.Keed and Club Valley, having his work featured on Photo Vogue, and more, ROF has had an extremely busy year. Knowing him for a few years now, I have witnessed his skill levels increase exponentially – into one of the most exciting emerging photographers in Cape Town right now. He has managed to develop his own unique & distinct style of shooting on digital, which is actually an extremely difficult thing to achieve.
And his creative efforts don't end over there. This young creative is also the creative director of his own fashion brand, PINKSOUL, which he plans on re-introducing very soon...
So, from explaining how his roots in Limpopo inspired him to get into the creative industry, to describing his photography, PINKSOUL & more – I had the absolute pleasure of virtually engaging ROF about his creative inspirations, being a young photographer in Cape Town, advice to emerging image makers, and more.
Would you mind introducing yourself and telling us a bit about how 'PINKSOUL' came to fruition?
ROF: My name is Rofhiwa Kutama, aka ROF & ROF_PHOGRAPHY. I’m a Cape Town-based multifaceted creative born & raised in Limpopo and I grew up in a small town called Makhado, or better known as Louis Trichardt. This town is the main reason why PINKSOUL came to fruition; because of the limited resources and exposure we got as kids growing up there. So I decided to not conform to my environment and rather create my own box – essentially my own community where myself and other like-minded kids could co-exist and fully express ourselves through fashion, art, photography, music, tech and pretty whatever vision you have, regardless of what people around you will say. So the idea is just to build a community where people can believe in who they are, with no limit.
Okay let's take a step back... what came first between the clothes and the photography? Tell me a bit more about your introduction to photography.
ROF: I would say they both came round about the same time because that’s when I started exposing myself to popular culture and art as an expression. But if we were to put it on a timeline, I’d say I did photography first because I’ve always had access to a phone or a camera at church – where I was part of the media team because I though shooting photos was cool. But I never really liked that part of photography so I kind of lost interest… Fast forward to 2018, I move to France for a bit on a student exchange program where my love for art was sparked because of how different the narrative was. So I started shooting and experimenting with photographs in the backyard of my host family’s house, at school and in the city. After coming back to South Africa, I took a break for a while and then focused on clothes, fast forward I move to Cape Town where EVERYTHING CHANGED EVEN MORE and I was like GAME ON let’s go. And it’s been a crazy journey of growth ever since.
What are some of your design influences? Like what influences/impacts your personal taste?
ROF: My personal taste is heavily influenced by my life experiences and the different phases of life which I’ve gone through. To be honest it's always changing because I try to take a little bit of everything I consume in order to make one product – for a lack better words. My friends also influence me and if had to pinpoint a few things, I would say the internet plays a huge role, the music I listen to, the books I read, sports, contemporary streetwear culture, unconventional art, Scandinavian (with a twist of futuristic) weird looking furniture designs, and more. My other design influence would the concept of functionality – it's always been a big part of everything I create.
You've had a super busy 2022 collaborating with a variety of exciting artists, like K.Keed, working with brands, your work being featured on Photo Vogue, and more! What's been some of your favourite work which you've done this year?
ROF: Yes that’s true, it's been a crazy and great year so far. Damn that’s hard… Quite frankly, after every project I shoot, I always say "this has to be my favourite body of work". Every time I create something new, you feel me? That’s how much I love my work. But I'll also go ahead and list a few for you:
1. 'My Hair my crown'
2. 'Science experiment // a beautiful confusion essentially the meaning of life from my perspective'
3. 'Bambino with freckles'
4. 'Orifha I’m conflicted'
5. 'Too caught in what the world was thinking, lost our ways till we stopped dreaming'
6. 'Highlighting personalities x Puma x K Keed x Senhora s/o to whitney for assisting with the styling'
7. 'Themba zwine nda divha'
I've known you for a while now ha-ha and it's been really refreshing to see how you've grown as a unique image architect. Could you maybe impart some advice for other emerging photographers on what's worked for you?
ROF: Yeah for sure. All I can say is, take all your time to learn, experiment and hone your craft. ASK AS MANY QUESTIONS AS YOU CAN. And most importantly, always believe in all your ideas, visions & disrupt the space bro. There’s nothing stopping you.
And then finally – what is next for Rof for the remainder of 2022 and beyond?
ROF: I’ll be finishing up my new capsule collection hats. I've been taking some time but I’ll be done soon. As well as working towards getting my degree at the end of this year… As for beyond, you’ll just have to wait and watch me do my thing. But all I can say is expect some really dope concepts and ideas.