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Silo 5, 2nd Floor, Silo District,
V&A Waterfront, Cape Town


by 26 Jul 2022Business

Shinji Akhirah is a multi-dimensional artist, with an edgy, conceptual approach that works in both traditional and digital media, ranging from beatmaking, NFTs and wordsmithery. Spurred on by his understanding of the transformative value of the Business Acumen for Artist course.

The late great Nelson Mandela stated that ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ We need a world that is more abundant for all and not those that simply have the luck of being born into wealth or economically strong geographical locations.

13-week short course
Worth R8500
Starting 29 August (Monday evenings)
Closing date for application 20 July
Venue: Presented at the Cape Town Creative Academy at the silo building V&A Waterfront.

Meet Shinji Akhirah

Konichiwa and Assalamu Alaikum to you.

I’m Shinji Akhirah, a Cape Town born multi-dimensional artist exploring the intersections of both the traditional and digital mediums, including beatmaking and wordsmithery.

I’m often asked what the name means, so let’s start there. Shinji (“Truth or True Ruler”) and Akhirah (“Afterlife”) are words found in Japanese and Arabic respectively. Shinji was actually micro adjusted from a previous nickname ‘Shinjuku’ and embodies some key characteristics that are found there. It contains both order and chaos, rebelliousness and control, hedonism and considered conservatism… These mechanisms help to frame and drive my curiosity forward as I search for the truths contained within each perspective or project that I choose to involve myself in.

When I’m not creating or conceptualising, I enjoy playing games, watching films, reading, listening to music and learning new things about the world in the fields of science, design, psychology and technology via podcasts or documentaries. I love coffee and hope to travel to many parts of the world once things become a bit less quarantine heavy and socially paranoid (holding thumbs for 2023).

What have you been up to lately?

Covid-19 forced me to re-evaluate how to continue to interact and navigate through the world. I decided to go all in on my art and my fascination with technology and its ability to bring people together and spark new forms of creative collaboration.

I have been very active in forging new pathways, relationships and connections across the globe through my art and taking leadership and rebuilding the self-funded, artist led OG crypto art collective known as The Guild. Within two years, I’ve managed to grow my personal business into profit within its first financial year, helped create some pioneering movements and notable charitable donation within the collaborative crypto art scene as The Guild and realised a few personal milestones along the way.

Some of these include custom artworks for some legendary figures such as Gigi Buffon, Mike Tyson, Pranksy, Dingling and Charles Hoskinson (Founder of Cardano) as well as a special edition artwork for Coingecko and a 3D avatar called VIDDA for the recent rebranding of one of the oldest metaverses known as CryptoVoxels. I’ve been honoured to share and co-create collaborative artwork with some well-known figures in the CryptoArt NFT space such as pplpleasr, Matt Kane, Angie Taylor, Rutger van der Tas, Coldie3D, Sparrow, Bryan Brinkman, Kristy Glas and Colborn.

What has been your biggest accomplishment?

Honestly, it isn’t about personal artistic achievements… Being able to start the Shinji Akhirah Bursary for BAA is my biggest accomplishment as it means that I have honoured a promise I made to a relative stranger – nearly two decades ago – that believed in me and my ability to change the world around me given the opportunity to do so.

If I have to reference an artistic achievement more recently, it would be shared between two:
I was recently invited by the incredible duo of Tina Ziegler (Moniker Art Fair) and Calum Hall (Creative Debuts) to showcase some work at the Adidas London flagship in Oxford as part of a group show. My piece for the exhibit entitled ‘A Love Unspoken’ is also my genesis autonomous 4 state work on the Async Art platform.

The other major highlight would be releasing a collaboration with d’strict’s ARTE META called DAWN OF ETERNAL SPIRITS. This is a Genesis blueprint collaboration between The Guild and South Korea’s premier digital design group, responsible for installations such as The Wave & the Arte Museums. This is a huge milestone for me, considering this healing and transformative journey started with me being relegated to sleeping on my late grandmother’s couch for 8 months during lockdown. She passed away last year due to Covid and I only wish that I could have taken her to view it in person as she would have been fascinated with the experience.

What advice do you have for creative entrepreneurs?

  • Get uncomfortable and get comfortable doing that.
  • Fear is not worth the energy wasted on it.
  • Learn to appreciate the ups and the downs…just don’t live there too long.
  • Enjoy it and try to see it as merely a learning curve towards whatever your goal might be. Every challenge and obstacle can be overcome.
  • Curiosity and adaptability are superpowers for the future.
  • There is beauty in chaos and noise – as the master conductor of your life’s opus, you get to filter and refine those signals in ways that will surprise you.
  • See yourself in everyone you meet and you’ll never be alone. You might not like what you see but the empathy that you’ll start to develop will amplify everything you do and everyone you interact with in ways that will seem like magic.

What inspires you?

Nature is definitely number one for me but I also draw inspiration from philosophy, astrophysics, experimental sound and playfulness. I am fascinated with abstraction and refactoring the frame of reference using deconstruction methods, arrays as well as fluid dynamics. I find technology fascinating as a tool for exploring the inner working world of the mind and its synaptic arrangements. If I had to go back and choose a different career path, it would probably be within the fields of neurology and man-machine interfacing.

Why the Shinji Akhirah Bursary?

Growing up, I saw first hand how challenging it was for my mother raising me as a single parent with little to no support from my father. Having witnessed the countless hours and dedication that she put into being able to put food on the table, keep me in school and encourage my creativity while making sure that we had a roof over our heads would often have me reflecting – at times angrily – at the situation I had to face. There were times in high school where I felt embarrassed because I knew that my school fees were in arrears and could also imagine the debt she undertook to simply provide me with an opportunity to shape and direct my future life with a good education.

She was a north star of inspiration, love and positive energy to a kid trying to find his way and make sense of the world and its inequalities. This is why a primary focus for the bursary is geared towards empowering female creatives and people of colour. Representation matters and innovative ideas shouldn’t be held hostage because of lack of access due to money.

I got the opportunity to study 3D Animation for 3yrs after matriculating only because someone believed enough in me to offer financial support for the initial 2 years. **

Aside ** Thank you to Nuno Martins and Peter den Hartogh from UCAA (now The Animation School) for allowing me access to the campus beyond the paid years in exchange for assisting students wherever possible with their studies. You are rockstars and angels!

Arigato and shukran to Gee van Veijeren from Fountainhead Design for believing in me and investing into my future. When I asked him back then if I could do some work at the company to pay the money back in some way, he simply replied ‘Hopefully one day you’ll be able to do the same for someone else as I have done for you. That’s how you pay me back :)’

These words have lived with me ever since that day and with this initiative I am able to do exactly that. It brings me tremendous self fulfilment, happiness and peace in being able to present this opportunity to the next world builders and creative problem solvers out there. I am a firm believer in equality and the need for empowering and inspiring others through our actions and not just our words.

My hope is that this opportunity may truly elevate you and your aspirations to greater heights, not only for yourself but for the unborn you of tomorrow. Each one – teach one. One love.


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