Interview with Grady T Zeeman

It is my desire that my love for the Divine, my love for humanity, and my love for life itself, is evident in my paintings; and that my legacy through my art will be Love, Hope, and Light.

Born: Swellendam, South Africa
Now: Cape Town, South Africa
@gradyzart |


You have a Clothing Design Diploma. What was your path to painting? When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

My dad taught me how to sketch vintage cars when I was a little child, and I have the earliest recollections of learning how to draw wheels and perspective. Unfortunately I did not have art as a subject at school, but it did not keep me from continually drawing faces and figures as a teenager, my school books covered with sketches. I was passionate about both fashion and art, but at first, fashion seemed like a better choice.

I started painting after being married and having kids, and I fell in love with it right away. I earnestly developed my technical skills and experimented with different techniques till I found my niche.

Tell us about your education. How has your experience in different art directions influenced your work?

We did a lot of figure- and fashion-drawing in my fashion design classes, which served as the foundation for understanding how to convey emotion in people. When I started painting, I attended workshops to develop skills and learn as much as I could about different mediums. I have always loved gaining knowledge, so later years, I also took various courses in art history and the art industry. I have come to know that art should evoke strong emotions in the viewer rather than just being an image, and that my style and my love for people have a specific place and purpose.

You have an impressive list of exhibits, competitions and awards! How did you find opportunities and how, over time, has your approach to participation evolved?

I’ve always had the mentality that I have to do everything in my power to get my work seen and cannot wait for someone to find me.

First, I participated and did well in competitions, which attracted the attention of galleries, who then offered shows. The recognition eventually materialised. Due to my present busy schedule, I am able to attend exhibitions whenever it is convenient for me.

Tell us about the most significant art events in your life as an artist.

I used to own a gallery for six years, and loved interacting with people and having deep conversations about art. So obviously meeting fellow artists and patrons at exhibition openings is always a pleasure, but my favourite events are biennales and art fairs. I really appreciate working with other artists from around the world for a few days; I find it incredibly motivating. Even though I get invited to several fairs and biennales on a regular basis, residing in South Africa makes it difficult for me in terms of finances and logistics, to attend on a regular basis.

Continuing with the theme of sobitiy – you have been represented in museums around the world and your work has also been presented in various international galleries. What do you think is the secret to your success?

I am convinced that having faith in my own ability and purpose, as well as being totally committed to my goals, is the secret to success.

Furthermore, ongoing development, not only in my artistic practice, but also in the art world as a whole, is essential to continue success. I am striving for excellence in everything I do, but allow myself to enjoy the journey too.

We would like to ask you a couple of tips you could give to aspiring artists.

My mantra has been
“Overnight success takes ten years” since the beginning.

It takes work to become proficient in your craft, but more importantly, it takes work to become aware of who you are. I have put just as much effort into learning and experimenting with my art as I have into becoming the person I am today. Always be open to learning new things.

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