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Creating connections…

Graphic designer, artist and dad of two, Dylan Smith is the founder of Painting on Purpose, a non-profit organisation that aims to connect communities through creativity.

Dylan has always had a creative spirit. “I used to cut out little pictures on cereal boxes as a child, and drawing was my favourite thing,” he laughs. When he was 14 years old, he was first introduced to graffiti but he soon realised that, although it was fun, it would probably cause him more trouble than it was worth. So, when he was just 16 years old, he started his own small business painting murals in spaces like restaurants and kids’ rooms. He went on to study graphic design and marketing, always painting on the side.

When he got married, he and his wife Gabi moved to Thailand to teach art. Although they loved their time abroad, they knew they needed to come home. “We just missed Africa,” he says. “While we were in Thailand, we dreamt up the idea of Painting on Purpose, which is about building up people rather than only making a space look pretty. We felt a need for community.”

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On returning home, Dylan officially launched the non-profit organisation, which has since grown to include various projects in KZN, as well as corporate team-building and workshops. Painting on Purpose often collaborates with corporates who want to make a positive impact by painting spaces that need new life. “Art is such a bridge and a common language for people,” explains Dylan. “You might be from different cultures, but painting connects you.”

Before beginning a project, Dylan and his team spend time with the community to find out more about their particular needs and what inspires them. From there, the creative process can evolve collaboratively with residents. One of Dylan’s recent projects involved painting a community centre in Shakaskraal with the help of around 50 children. “The kids love to feel they’re part of the process,” he says. And this, ultimately, is what it’s all about. “It’s about sowing into the people,” he explains. “Community and creativity – that’s our cup of tea!”

Details: 079 493 7194; [email protected];
IG: @paintingonpurposeco; FB: Painting on Purpose

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