PAINTING THE TOWN WITH WESLEY VAN EEDEN
Vibrant mural artist and illustrator, Wesley van Eeden, started his artistic journey at the age of seven through his love of skateboarding and its culture.
The Insider SA visits illustrator, graphic designer and artist, Wesley van Eeden in Durban. Today, Wesley has achieved international recognition for his unique and colourful style. His business journey began over ten years ago when he decided to turn his passion into a career.
“At seven-years-old, I was given my first skateboard and that was my introduction to exploring my suburbs”, shares Wesley. “As I got into the skateboarding culture and meeting other skateboarders in the area, I started seeing the graphics on skateboards. I really got attracted to those artworks”.
As Wesley got older, he was faced with a decision. He didn’t know what he wanted to do, but he knew he loved to draw. Inspired by the graphics in skateboard culture, Wesley found his niche.
He explains, “I do a broad cross section of different types of media”. Wesley can create digital art on Adobe Illustrator and he works with spray paints and acrylic paint for outdoor work and murals. “It’s quite a laborious process, that’s what makes my work unique”.
After studying graphic design at the Durban University of Technology, Wesley was inspired by his three month artist residency in Raseborg, Finland. He chose to name his brand Resoborg, changing the first half of the Finish town’s name. Wesley explains, “If you look at half the word, ‘reso-’ is short for ‘resource’ and ‘-borg’ is the Swedish word for ‘a centre’ or ‘a castle’. So, Resoborg is the idea of finding the resource centre within yourself to do something hopeful”.
Wesley’s art brings vibrancy to the city landscape. “The main thing is creating something that is bright and colourful and hopeful. I want to leave something in the world that has a positive message and to inspire other people. It’s really about trying to create hope where hope may not exist”.
Today Wesley’s work is sought after by a wide variety of clients. It’s a collaborative effort of adapting his signature style to meet the needs of those he creates for.
“My journey as an artist and as a creative person has had its ups and downs. I don’t think it’s the easiest occupation to do”, admits Wesley. But looking back at his journey, Wesley celebrates his milestones like working with Bill Gates’ NGO and being able to create murals across America and New Zealand. Ultimately, Wesley remarks, “It’s really been an exciting ride to have those opportunities to create work for different communities, companies, and people”.
A recent project saw Wesley working in Kwamashu, a township just north of Durban, known for its lively art scene. He injected his colourful art at a local sports centre, to inspire the community’s youth.
Wesley breaks down his work saying, “It was all done by spray paint. The concept and inspiration behind the painting is from African aesthetics. You’ll see there’s a lot of African patterns to speak to history and tradition but with a contemporary twist. There’s lots of bright colours because I want the artwork to stand out from far away, almost like a beacon of hope”.
Another recent work of Wesley’s can be found along Florida Road, where restored Victorian and Edwardian buildings are filled with restaurants, shops and art galleries. This mural plays with triangles, as the connection between all three points represents the unity of diverse people. For Wesley, creating this mural was a massive achievement and testament to his journey thus far.
“Florida Road is known as the place to go if you want to have a night out, so it’s nice to know that I’ve been commissioned to do a mural in such a prominent place. For me, it almost feels like a public monument. It’s nice to have been recognised after all these years”.
Every day is a new and exciting challenge for Wesley. “Every project that you do is different, every wall is different, every experience is different and that’s what I love about doing it”. Wesley’s work shows how vibrancy and colour can express our rich culture and diversity – a powerful way of telling the stories of who we are.