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Thato Molele learns art of survival

Thato Molele at work in his home studio.
Thato Molele at work in his home studio.

Transforming old items into fashionable footgear has helped young artist Thato Molele escape the pressures of the high unemployment rate haunting young people.

Molele, 24, from Benoni east of Johannesburg, said that his passion for creative thinking led him into the world of entrepreneurship.

He revamps old sneakers, shoes and clothing items using fabric paint and sprays.

"It all started in December 2016 when I was [feeling] lazy to wash my shoes, so I took my younger sister's paints and painted my All Star takkies and then dressed up and went to a party.

"People were fascinated by my shoes and started asking me to do artwork on their items," said Molele.

He now makes a living out of painting shoes, shirts, caps, walls and wooden items for his customers.

"I use fabric paint, leather paint, acrylic and sprays for my designs," said Molele.

Molele said the high rate of unemployment in the country motivated him to do something different and capitalise on [other] people's appetite for fashion. "I never went to school to learn art, it all came naturally. Drawing also helps me [to] express my emotions and thoughts."

After matric he went to Ekurhuleni East College to further his studies, but realised he could use his hands to run a lucrative business while supporting his family.

"I don't believe that there are no jobs out there. Every individual must look into their passion and talent because we cannot all do the same things."

Molele, who works from his home studio, charges between R200 and R300 for painting shoes and artwork.

"On a good month I make about R4 000."

Molele said he finds inspiration in the youth of 1976.

"I hope as young people we don't drop the ball. We must remember the history of June 16 and celebrate it with dignity in respect of the leaders who fought for our liberation."

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