If you missed my first post, I’m Anna-Belle and I’m speaking about inspiration. The first time I discovered Anthony Bila’s work I’d never seen anything like it. In my eyes Anthony is one of the first South African’s to really explore our street culture and capture it through photographs. Cut to a few years later and Anthony ‘The Expressionist’ Bila and I are friends and he still amazes me everyday. I sat down with him to chat about the next phase of his life as a businessman. 

People know you for your style and your photography, what don’t they know about you?

I'm just surprised people know me at all to be honest. But in any case, people may not know that I write, perform compose and produce music. I also work as a fine artist.

You recently stopped working full time for other people and opened your own business. Tell me what you’re doing now, what is it called, who do you work with etc.

That's correct, yes. It's all very exciting and very scary at the same time, like a roller-coaster. I have three businesses that will be my focus for 2016, the first is my own personal brand as a creator;  Anthony Bila x The Expressionist which focuses on personal branding collaborations with brands as a model/blogger/influencer working with brands in their campaigns and lending my following and leveraging it for the mutual benefit of the brand and my audience.The second is The Uncultured Club with my partners Chisanga Mubanga  and Nicholas Rawhani, we operate as a creative collective who focus on photography and film as well as music, we're like a band that takes photographs, writes and makes short films and collaborate with other creative entities like A Fashion Friend for instance, creating commissioned content. The third and final focus will be Makeshift Studios, where the focus is social media, creating concepts, content and consultation to brands who're looking to connect. More on that later. Keep an eye out. My hands are already quite full with the first two entities. I've had the benefit of working with brands like Superbalist, Adidas Originals, Asics Tiger, Huawei, Tiger Brands, Intel Africa,  Unlabelled Magazine, Surface Magazine in the U.S.A. to name a few and I'm looking at expanding that list across the portfolio depending on what the needs of the clients we're working with, they'll fall into at least one of the three companies, perhaps all three. 

What’s the hardest part about going out on your own?

You have to become all things to all people, I'm creative, client service, account management, finance, strategy and you don't work predefined hours anymore, every aspect of what you do falls squarely on your shoulders. 

What’s the easiest part about going out on your own?

Defining the direction you want to take and the ability to turn down clients that you don't think would do your brand justice or vice versa, mostly though it's the idea of self-determination. South Africa has an alarmingly high youth unemployment rate and for this to change we need more young people to start their own businesses and more importantly we need to be incubated and assisted by a system that fosters ideas and entrepreneurship rather than one that hinders it for the economy to grow.

What’s the main thinking you want to instil in your work and business?

Ideas. I think we're sorely lacking in innovation in concepts and content that really compel and challenges the audience, as a result we have what I refer to as the "dumbing down of content". If you feed someone really bad food all their lives and suddenly they're introduced to good, healthy quality food, they likelihood they won't even know that what the latter far exceeds the former. Collaboration is another key to success that we need to unlock, especially in the creative field, we often work in silos or with the tried and test "inner circle" of creatives, the industry won't grow with that exclusionary mindset. And the internet never forgets, so I think I want to collaborate with talent, young and old, those with 100 or 100, 000 followers, it's about working with creatives who are doers, action'ers, yes I know that's not a word but you get what I'm saying. 

Name a place, person and thing that inspires you.It can be more than one of each if you want. 

Tokyo, Japan. Akira Kurosawa. Motion picture really inspires me, in all it's medium that encompasses everything I love doing, music, art direction, photography, ideas, concepts, writing. You get to create an entire fictional world with all it's nuances and you get to unfurl a narrative that is can be both compelling and inspiring, happy and sad, heaven and hell, the very idea of that makes me giddy. Fiilm is the holy grail for me, all the skills that I'm learning and teaching myself I feel will one day culminate in a film/s if I'm fortunate, I've already started working on ideas and concepts for music videos/short film through The Uncultured Club and my collaborators, I'm ecstatic to see where we take it.

What does 2016 hold for you?

Using my network and newly formed company structure. I want to complete at least 3 short films and/or music videos during the course of this year. I am also going to focus on exhibiting more photography and fine art this year, I was fortunate to exhibit my work with Paul Ward, Gabrielle Kannemeyer, OkamalumKoolKat, Jade Klara, Trevor Stuurman this year for G-Star in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. So in essence my biggest goal is to go from URL to IRL (In Real Life) work that people can physically touch and own. Outside of that, my music projects are another aspect of my craft I want to explore. The incredible thing is that the companies I've started, and working relationships I've fostered make all these goals very real in the scope of the companies I've established. The brands, companies and collaborators that come along for the journey will win, those that don't, won't.