Creating Art in a F’d up World

By |2017-07-20T20:32:24+00:0019 Jul 2017|

Evl Jon is one of those interesting characters you will meet in Johannesburg. One day I was out with a class in Maboneng, teaching visual composition and I walked into him. I asked whether I can take his portrait. He agreed and I took him aside for a few character portraits.

Instead of posing him, I asked questions about his life. Then while interviewing, started taking portraits of him. Every now and then refining my angle and asking him to turn slightly, or maybe look at the camera. My aim was to capture his true expressions. I came away with probably 70 images, all shot with a 45mm tilt-shift.

I think he enjoyed my camera’s attention and spoke with lots of facial expression and gestures.  Despite his seemingly malevolent appearance, I found him a sensible and interesting character. It seems he was brought up in a “normal” home and had a proper high school education. He sees himself as an artist. To earn a living, he would make little cartoon sketches of himself, which he would sell on the streets. He also sells marijuana, because after my quick photo session, I gave him some money, to which he replied that he attempted to sell marijuana the previous evening, and couldn’t make a dime. He was very grateful for my donation.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I asked him about art. His reply was interesting. I forgot his exact wording, but he was saying something in the line of “How can you create something beautiful in such a fucked-up world”.

I don’t agree with his statement, but contemplating his philosophy provided me with some serious food for thought. And at that note, let me share a series of character portraits of Evl Jon: 

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn

Character Portraits of Evl Jn


We would love to hear from you!

I hope you enjoyed these character portraits of Evl Jon and whether you agree with his philosophy about art? Leave a comment below! 

About the Author:

Danie Bester
Fine Art, Landscape, Architecture: The more abstract forms of photography like impressionism and minimalism intrigue me. I prefer creating images that depict energy, mood and silence. To illustrate my themes, I use mainly long exposures, selective focus and focus blur. My philosophy is that the camera is just a paintbrush and that thought-provoking images stem from a trained mind.


  1. Danie Bester
    Danie Bester 2019/01/07 at 09:06

    Thanks for filling in the picture James.

  2. James L 2019/01/06 at 21:33

    I actually knew Jon growing up, all of this is to try grab attention he was denied but so desperately craved. It is an act.

    Amazing artist though

  3. Shawn Marran
    Shawn Marran 2017/07/24 at 11:00

    I really enjoyed looking at these fascinating character portraits, although I don’t agree with his philosophy…

  4. Janique Scott 2017/07/20 at 12:20

    Danie, I love the expressions in these character portraits. These pictures are so interesting and it leaves the viewer wanting more of Evl Jon’s story. It begs the question what kind of life he had and his experiences and his journey. Very very interesting person and creative too. (must be the marijuana) lol.

    Then there is the issue about creating art…
    Isn’t that the very reason why we ‘should’ create something beautiful?… Not making art is depriving the world I think… Not just the potential of your art, but of the entirety of you. Making art makes you whole and allows you to contribute to the world from a healthier position. The arts foster individuality, freedom, and self-expression, the very ideals on which our nation is built, it completes our humanity.

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