Anthony Bila is a gifted creative that has been behind the scenes of some of the most vibrant brand campaigns we’ve seen in South African media. Working by day as a Senior Community Manager and as a Creator by night, Anthony is the true definition of what it means to be passionate about your craft and to exercise it from sunrise to sunset. We had the chance to chat with The Expressionist about his career.
What is your current job title/titles?
Senior Community Manager by day, Creator (photography, film, art) by night.
What was the first job you ever had?
My first official job was as a cashier at a grocery store, but before that, I’ve always been a creator, selling comic drawings to kids at school of their favourite characters and so forth.
Can you explain why you love what you do with your work on The Expressionist?
It’s an opportunity to express myself, my views and my vision of the world around me. Often times, Africa and South Africa, in my immediate vicinity is misrepresented by world media. I want Africans and the world to understand that we define ourselves, our narrative. It’s up to us to tell our stories, our way because we don’t have the luxury of relying on the world to do it, at least not accurately or from our unique perspectives as Africans. Essentially, I love to create and the medium creating takes often changes, whether it’s music, art, film or photography but it’s always from my point of view.
Would you say that your career path has been a conventional/traditional path so far?
Absolutely not. In my short life, I’ve been a radio DJ and producer, a copywriter, project manager, account manager, social media manager, videographer, photographer, fine artist, music producer, model, actor and a host of other things. All the opportunities and work that I’ve been afforded to do have informed the next project and so forth, I’ve been very fortunate. More than a specific job, I’ve always pursued a lifestyle or way of life, one that let’s me create and affect people through my work, I think that’s more important to want a certain way of life and finding a career path that allows that to be nourished. I know that whatever comes next for me, it’s not going to be “traditional or conventional” in the traditional sense of the word, for lack of a better term. I’ve always wanted to, need to create and that will follow me until the day I die, hopefully before that happens I make a meaningful contribution to the world.
What’s the most common misconception about your role/position or career?
That’s hard to say, but I’d say that it’s “easy and carefree”, when infact it’s “hard and careful”. You’re only as good as your consistency and last project, which makes taking risks as a creator very difficulty, but for me, necessary. As a senior community manager, people imagine I’m on social media all day, tweeting and facebooking, when in fact I’m working on startegy, managing talent, ideating creative concepts for brands and so much more. Fortunately both “jobs” I have inform one another and allow me to learn as well as grow all the time.
Who or what would you has been a major influence in your career choices?
I don’t think any one person has been a major influence, but seeing my contemporaries branch out to work independently and start their own business, consultancies and so forth has made me realise the need for ownership over our ideas, for young people, for black people because we’re even misrepresented a lot of the time in our own country by “culture vulture” agencies who appropriate youth culture and basterdise it. So any creative person who’s lead by integrity has influenced me, people like Sindiso Nyoni come to mind.
Lastly, what is your opinion on studying if wanting to get into your profession?
If you can study, great. If you can’t afford to, it’s not the end of the world, in fact it may be the beginning of a new one. I didn’t study photography, film or fine art at varsity, I used the internet and became self-taught. So desire and passion is far more important to me, personally. Depending on your profession, you may be able to circumvent the system with the help of the internet and access to information. Although, there are some fundamentals studying can give you, I think ultimately it’s up to you to make due with your circumstances and not let access to hire education become the be-all and end-all of your future.