Howsit guys. Blake, you caught my attention because of a conversation we were having when I walked into the store, we were talking about creativity and our passion for creatives. Let us start there.
Blake– I was also very driven to create a platform for individuals because I am also very inspired by different peoples outlooks. That is what art is, it is different peoples expression and different peoples view of the world. This is what I would like to celebrate and bring to peoples attention. Often people monopolize and try to make money out of something, taking away the beauty of true art. But true art is an expression, it is the artist’s soul. It shouldn’t be a clinical classic thing in a gallery. All of the individuals we bring into the shop have a story, they have something that has driven them. They are driven to have to create. The way that this shop works is that we take a 30% commission and the 70% goes to the artist. We won’t charge an artist to display. There is no risk at all for the artist. I am hoping that this inspires a change in thinking in that you don’t have to have a huge qualification but rather have heart, understanding and are open to bringing across a message. People are not doing it for the potential customer but rather for their own soul.
Dani – I came into the shop through Blake fairly recently. It was something that I immediately gravitated towards because I grew up in the punk scene of Cape Town. So I was literally in a very adoptive culture, from a very young age and very involved in the creative arts side of things, where a lot of my friends are tattoo artists or designers. I have very few friends who are not in the music or art industry. So constantly being surrounded by that sort of thing, I am very aware of the struggles of people who are full-time artists. I see my music as being a full-time art. I am very passionate about the business side of working with these artists because I am very aware of the problems that they face. Cape Town has such a small pool of finance, which is so small compared to the pool of talent. Your opportunities are few and then it is also quite difficult for artists to take opportunities even when people are offering these great things, it is quite difficult to do it because of financial and circumstantial implications. This is a platform, we are the middle man if someone has an idea we can help them put it into action. If someone needs a space, we give them space. If someone needs tools, we want to be able to equip them with these things. This shop is very much on the side of the artist. We meet incredible people who are also passionate about helping artists and being that bridge to link these people.
What were you guys doing before the store?
Blake– I have done a lot of different things. Upbringing wise, I grew up on a farm, I did homeschooling, so a different way of growing up. We were far from town, twenty kilometres from the nearest one-horse town, you definitely get a different perspective on life. I grew up with my own chickens, my own sheep. I milked the cows every morning at 5:30 am from the age of nine. You get used to that way of life. Moving to Cape Town my family wanted me to study electrical engineering, which wasn’t my passion but they said I would grow into it, you know when you are young and you don’t want to study anything. Look, for me, it was a strange thing as I felt I was ready to study and I love learning but I don’t have a desire to do electrical engineering. No trust us, you will love it when you get into it. Years into it, it definitely wasn’t the thing so I quit it and started waitering which was a big worry for my family. I did waitering for about a year, I wanted to understand an immerse myself more in people. I left waitering to do my own thing, I started Knobs&Tassels.
Dani– I was studying teaching when I left school. I majored in art and English. While I was studying I was writing reviews and doing interviews for radio stations. I also got very into just connecting people, that ballooned although I didn’t want to make it a commercial thing. I was busy studying and I was busy dancing and doing my music. So I kind of squashed that but it has always been a part of my personality not so much a thing I consciously thought of. So I finished teaching, I am very passionate about education and learning. The opportunities that, that can afford people. Once people know how to read they can teach themselves anything. The art and English was a great outlet for me personally and helping people along the way. I traveled and danced in various countries around the world. I also used to study opera at UCT. While I was traveling I damaged my voice and damaged my leg. I was told that I might never sing again and that I would never walk again. I got my voice back miraculously as well as my fitness. I decided I was going to do something with it. I choose to be a full time musician, it was quite a harsh commitment. Everyone who cares about you tells you not to be an artist, not to be a musician,. They tell you that you have brain and ask why you don’t get a qualification. I don’t see it as backup plan, I see it as being a coward. That is my honest opinion. I feel very strongly about it. I am a full time musician because if I did anything else I would feel like I was kind of lying, like I was just fulfilling a role. There is a lot of financial difficulty, you don’t move out of home as soon as your engineering friends. You cant cant finance yourself a really nice car, you don’t have a pension. There is a lot of scrapping the barrel and sacrifices that are made to be an artist. I was excited with what we are doing here, to find ways to help and support artists.
You are bringing together artists from all over the world, that is the dream, correct?
Blake – Yes that would be correct. What you were saying with your journey, with writing…I grew up with a very spiritual side, for me that spiritual thing has grown to the point where spirituality gets to answer those questions. Where am I going? What am I doing with my life? We reach a point in our lives where we start asking how we can affect others positively? There are so many individuals who have the potential to do great things and this is what it is about. This is what Knobs&Tassels stands for. We want to be the beacon that draws these people together. As one artist you don’t have the power, but as a group..we stand for freedom of expression.
Dani, you guys have two personal projects?
Dani – Here at Knobs&Tassels we have a couple of brands under our umbrella. One of the main ones is Pallet Sunrise which was started by Peter Thorvaldsson and Blake Combrinck. They turn recycled pallet furniture and make custom pieces. They have handled out pallets to various artists and got them work on them, they are then sold in the shop. We also did a project where we got in cattle skulls from a local. Being in Woodstock we get a lot of strange offers. So we have come across a cattle skull dealer. We handed out cattle skulls to any artists that walked in the door. We gave them no instruction besides here is a skull and a time limit, bring it back and we will sell it for you. It is definitely a project we will take into the future. We also have a very cool brand of clothing called Swords to Plowshares.
Blake– Just going back to the skulls. The skulls mean a lot they represent your thinking ability, it protects that. Again Knobs&Tassels is a platform we want it to be open to freedom of expression and to protect this freedom. It is beautiful in that, there are so many ways to think. The minute we open our minds and stop being so worried that someone will take advantage of us that is where learning will take on another level. With our label, Swords to Plowshares. I had a friend who was a Jewish pig farmer, quite a character. We did a deal where I managed to get hold of an old diving helmet and he just gave me about six hundred army jackets, from the old South Africa Army. The idea behind it is that we should consider forgiveness and move forward. That is why we incorporate the African fabric to show the colour, vibrancy and beauty of our country. There are messages in everything at Knobs&Tassels. There is a story behind every piece. We are the next generation. Our parents and their parents have made the story that we are living now and now it is our time to make the next story.