Incredible Women in Art: Maneo Mohale — I’m hella queer, and proudly so

Maneo Mohale is one of the most brilliant minds we’ve ever met. She is an arts journalist, writer, editor and a major LGBTQI advocate, who has written for prominent publications and has also created her own platform, The Talon.

Maneo uses her extraordinary talent to create a safe space for the LGBTQI community and black women; lending them a voice in order to share their own stories and experiences.

We had the amazing opportunity to pick Maneo’s brain and chat about all the things that move her.

How did you get into the art industry?

The Art industry is extremely broad and feels a little incongruous with what I do with most of my time, (which is write and edit), but I’ve been writing for as long as I remember.

I only entered seriously into the realm of arts journalism at university, when I co-founded an online student journalism platform called The Talon alongside an incredible team and editorial collective.

I was a writer and an editor for the publication, but I really enjoyed editing there.

Soon after, I dipped my toes in all kinds of creative and journalistic writing and then landed my Global Feminism Writing Fellowship with an American feminist organization called Bitch Media, which really skyrocketed by interest in smart and sexy arts journalism.

Since then, I’m really getting a feel for the media landscape, and I’m loving the art that I am exposed to by both editing talented arts writers and trying my pen at responding to the waves made in the South African and broader global arts industries as well.

The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

As an advocate for the LGBTQI community, tell us about what you do, including your work with Platform Magazine

I think there’s more than a little danger in forming an identity around advocacy and activism, so I tend to bristle a bit at the solidity of thinking of myself as an ‘advocate’.

I’m hella queer, and proudly so, and because of the spaces and access that I’m fortunate to have at my fingertips through the work I do, I try my best to make space while taking space in the world.

It’s a seemingly simple praxis, but it’s rooted in the radical and innate belief that we hold each other’s lives, liberation, safety, progress, in our hands. As an editor, for Platform and others, that looked like deliberately and consciously looking for and developing the writing of black women, trans writers, queer writers, etc., especially in spaces where there are more barriers to our publications than most.

It’s quiet, gradual work, but that’s the kind of work I love best. The media landscape is made richer and more meaningful with our voices in it, and whatever part I get to play in that is a real source of joy and pride.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

Who are your two favourite women artists and why?

I have a real soft spot for jazz and jazz writing, as I was raised listening to, and soaking up aspects of jazz culture since I was tiny.

Lately, I’ve really appreciated how South African jazz has widened to really centralise women and my two favourite artists right now are Thandi Ntuli and Zoë Modiga.

They’re electrifyingly talented, and I adore their approach to their craft so much. They make me want to become a better writer.

I love the art that I am exposed to - @ManeoMohale Click To Tweet

Who do you look to for inspiration?

It may sound really silly, but I’m inspired all of the time, everywhere I look. I’m surrounded by passionate and creative people. They’re my ever-expanding chosen family and just basking in their light is enough to inspire me.


Do you have any upcoming projects that you can share with us?

I do! Some of them are still in the oven and developing, especially personal creative projects and publications that are forming on the horizon. But the one I’m most excited about it a queer reading series that I’m launching with some of my favourite people in the world.

It’ll be a space where trans and queer writers can read their work to an audience and share their process while building a supportive and responsive community at the same time.

We have such powerful, thoughtful, and innovative writing produced by trans and queer people here in SA, and I’m excited to lend my hand in creating a space for us to just bask in each other’s brilliance.

Photo by – Kgomotso Neto

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to become a creative artist?

Find your family, and start where you are. Finding, building and nurturing a community of people who are both supportive and critical is how I started on this convoluted journey – they were the first people I trusted to read my work, and created a bedrock for me to test my ideas for projects and pieces.

Also, what inevitably happens is a moment when you all look around the room at each other and say: “We don’t need anyone else to start something gorgeous. We’ve got each other.”

As a Black Queer Feminist, how do you navigate through challenges in the creative industry?

I think one of my main challenges, (asides from the given ones around navigating the triple whammy of racism, sexism and homophobia), is learning how to take up space while standing my ground, especially around some of the principles and values on which I refuse to compromise.

I’m not a particularly confrontational person, and I’m quite a sensitive bean at the best times, so learning how to be firm for myself is definitely an ever-unfolding lesson. When it comes to being fierce for other people, my writers, for example, I can do that in a heartbeat.

It’s instinctual for me to be protective. But when it comes to me, well shucks. But we live and we learn, and I think I’m getting better at it, slowly.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

How to make money as an artist in Nigeria

artist in nigeria

You must be familiar with the image of the starving artist in Nigeria who doesn’t get recognition until she dies. Were you discouraged from studying the arts because it was believed to be an unlucrative industry? Or maybe because you were a girl? Well, what if I told you they were wrong? You don’t agree? Here’s my argument – if you’re artistically inclined, why settle for broke when this image below could just be you?


In many countries across the world, artists make their living from selling art. However in Nigeria, it is often difficult for artists to break into commercial success. If you are still not sure how this article can help, stay with me. I’ll show you how to start making that money while holding on to your creativity.

Create a unique brand


Your brand needs to have a selling factor that is personal to you as an artist, be it your style, your market, your subject. Check out Francis Sule for example, who uses a highly illustrative style in his work.

Have a day job

A lot of artists hole themselves up in their studios expecting their ‘dope’ work to speak for itself. You see girl, your work isn’t going to speak without you doing some talking.Captuyre

A day job that lets you meet people and maintain a flexible schedule is a good idea. I work as a graphics designer in a sports entertainment company and that helps me meet a lot of people. Another case in point is Stacey Okparevvo who works as a yoga instructor.

Hire a talent manager/art agent.

Most artists are not really business savvy, they’re just not very good at marketing their own work! Think about it, if they were to be left on their own, galleries would probably be making far less money.

We hear of veteran artists with agents and managers taking care of business, but most new artists don’t care for such ‘luxuries’. The truth is it is not so difficult getting people do to do these things for you. David Oamen is one of the few people who does something along those lines in Nigeria.

Sell affordable art


There is actually nothing wrong with selling affordable art. A number of artists are creating and selling affordable stuff. For example, Art of ajet, Mode, and lawyartist are examples of artists who sell art, phone cases and so on, online. You can do phone cases, T-shirts, logos, mugs, book covers, snap backs, the possibilities are endless.

Network network network


Ah, yes, artists network. Are you serious about making commercial hits? Then you surely have to go out and meet people. Ayoola has a huge network across the world and is a friendly chap. AAF and ArtContemporary also artists who organise networking events for other artists.

Collaborate outside your field

Again this may feel a little too tasking, but you need to go outside your comfort zone to sell your art. Collaborating with fashion designers and musicians is a great way to make collaboration work for you and bring in constant work.

Set up a store at Jakande


Yes, I said Jakande! What were you expecting though? A lot of foreigners and Nigerians visit Jakande with the intention to buy art. And if your art is affordable and your brand amazing, you’re sure to find great customers there. If I were you, I’d get someone to handle sales, and may even sell my work myself.

Contact galleries across the world

Galleries worldwide are usually looking for new artists. Don’t rest on your oars girl, contact them, be at the top of your game. Art21, Omenka, and Rele are some of the galleries in Lagos.

Finally, the arts business might be a tricky one. I’m not sure what the defining factors of a ‘good’ art piece are but I do know that for every work you create, you’ll need to be authentic and true to who you are. Strive to create pieces that you actually love. And make lots of money along the way.