Who is Joe Govo and what do you do?
Joe Govo is a Zimbabwean-born self-taught artist who has become a product designer in the ceramics field. I have been living in South Africa for more than 10 years now. I love and breathe art and design. I grew up in a family of artists and used to paint pictures which I sold to women in my neighbourhood so they could decorate their homes. As I got older, I realised I could make a living using my craft. After completing my studies years ago and working for a ceramics company for a few years as part of the design team, I decided to start my own business in 2006 – Afri Ceramix Studio.
Tell us about your work?
I design unique products for interior designers, tourists, lodges and also cater to anyone who wants to own beautiful ceramics.The products I make at Afri Ceramix Studio include household items such as mugs and tea sets, bathroom accessories, bar accessories, décor items (vases) as well as custom-made designs. I specialise in bisqueware, sculpturing, glazing and firing, mould-making, ceramic painting and teaching the fundamental techniques of ceramics.
I always encourage people to express themselves and I am all for creativity. If you have a design in mind, I can make it for you and even guide you to make your own unique creation. The products I make can be passed on from one generation to another – if you buy one product, you won’t find a replica anywhere else.
What inspires your work?
I am inspired by nature – wild life as well as humans – and current issues. My rhino range, for instance, was inspired by the plight of rhinos. I wanted to raise awareness and to also celebrate the rhino. I just love celebrating life or raising awareness through my designs.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished a piece for a client from China. I am now working on my rhino range as well as an owl range.
What advice would you give young creatives looking to do what you do?
Love what you do. I think if you have a passion for whatever you do, it makes things easier. One of the youngsters from Diepsloot under my wing (Phiweka Mngqika) came to Riversands Incubation Hub where I am based for something totally different, but she walked into my studio because she was captivated when she saw my products on display. I recognised her passion, which is why I gave her a chance. Three months down the line, she has made amazing progress and it has been very easy to teach her – I think it would have been very difficult if she didn’t have the passion.
What has been the highlight of your career thus far?
Besides winning the Paradigm Shift Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2013 and crafting the popular “Citizenship” collection of ceramics that was conceptualised by Rial Visagie from the Ceramic Factory, the biggest highlight is taking youngsters under my wing and teaching them to make ceramics. I believe there is no greater gift than giving someone a skill that will help them to make a better life for themselves and provide for their families.
Where can our readers follow your work?
Those interested in my work can check out the Facebook page: Africeramix Studio. I am on Instagram:@JOEGOVO. People can also check out my website: www.africeramix.co.za.