If you’re interested in street art and graffiti from the African continent, Cale Waddacor’s the guy to speak to. Waddacor is a South African artist, musician, photographer, and documentarian. Skateboarding through his home city, Johannesburg, he developed a passion for urban art and graffiti. He began photographing street artworks to document the country’s rising graffiti and street art scene and launched the website Graffiti South Africa in 2011, which was made into a book of the same title in 2014. Most recently, he’s released Street Art Africa, the first ever survey of Africa’s diverse and visually dazzling street art, published by Thames&Hudson.
We first featured the work of Waddacor on the cover of Creative Feel in 2018. In this catch-up Q&A, we speak with the artist and publisher about the many projects he’s been busy with since.
We featured your work on the cover of Creative Feel back in 2018. What’s happened since then? Can you catch us up?
A lot has happened. I always have multiple projects on the go and a few of them really ripened. I launched my graffiti films and publication event, Street Art Cinemart, now three editions down. Through this outlet I also put together a few zines including my long-time graffiti photography project called Coexist, and Scrawble volume 1 and 2 documenting my collection of mark-makings across South Africa. I published a collaborative portfolio zine with Cape Town’s Conform, and I also threw together a graffiti colouring book which featured work by the Cinemart’s exhibiting artists. More so, I struck a publishing deal for my second book, became a father, and emigrated to the UK.
Tell us about your latest book, Street Art Africa. How did it come about?
My new book, Street Art Africa, showcases the fantastic work of African graffiti and street artists, with over 400 artists and more than 40 countries featured. When I started blogging about South Africa’s scene in 2011, I quickly became fascinated with the rest of the continent and enjoyed highlighting various happenings, although many were related to international artists. Over the years I saw more local talent emerging and realised these talented artists deserved more attention, especially with the lack of African participation in international urban art affairs. I began to collate images, connect with artists, write, and research. I’m very proud of it and hope the book will shed light on this growing culture, especially when you learn about all the unique perspectives and regional histories.
How was your work impacted by the onset of the pandemic in 2020? How have you adapted?
I’ll say that moving to a new country a couple weeks before national lockdown is definitely not the easiest, but I’m happy, healthy, and employed despite the circumstances. My passion projects are not the main source of income, but I had hoped to pursue new creative endeavours through them – especially living in a new country with a larger creative culture. The pandemic hasn’t helped much in terms of networking or promoting a book, but I have used this period to spend quality time with my wife and daughter, and have been working through all my unfinished projects and ideas for the future.
What’s keeping you inspired at the moment?
Seeing what other artists and creatives are doing through platforms like Instagram is quite inspiring, although some days one needs that break from constant digital consumption. I love seeing what new visual art publications are coming out and they make me want to create more of my own. All the days spent in quarantine have also made me more aware of time and I am really keen to put out new zines and work through my large photography archive. I’ve revved up Graffiti South Africa’s Instagram feed, and am hoping to raise Dead Town from dormancy as it was, unfortunately, too much for me to handle while writing Street Art Africa. Oh, and I’ve been listening to tons of new music which always brings great joy and motivation.
Where can our readers find more of your work?
I have a website, www.calewaddacor.com, where one can find all my projects (although it’s due for an upgrade). I’m not very active on my own social media, but here’s hoping that changes. Keep a lookout over on @StreetArtAfricaBook, @GraffitiSouthAfrica, @StreetArtCinemart, @Dead.Town, @TheMothsSurf for news and events.