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Lionel Mutobola was Created To Create

Celebrating Creativity with the Blacksmith Culture Collective

We are continually in pursuit of celebrating the creativity of South African creatives and beyond. Through the "Created To Create" initiative, we laud individuals like Lionel Mutobola who redefine the contours of creativity and inspire others with their unparalleled vision.

Leo Mutobola

In Cape Town's kaleidoscope of culture and colour, 22-year-old Lionel "Leo" Mutobola is making waves with a camera in hand. Originally from the DRC, Leo's transition from a young immigrant to a sought-after photographer in South Africa is a tale of passion, resilience, and raw talent.

Leo Mutobola

Leo's journey into photography wasn't just a leap of faith; it was a destiny unfolding. Starting with casual shoots on a friend's Samsung in high school, he never imagined that photography would redefine his life's purpose. A significant turn came when his brother, Aadam, handed down his camera. What began as a venture to fund a clothing brand evolved into a deep-seated love for capturing moments that tell stories.


Music and skate culture from his formative years are the backbones of Leo's inspiration. Raised in a home where jazz, Congolese Rumba, and rap vibrated through the walls, he credits his unique visual style to the diverse sounds of his upbringing. The rhythm of skateboards on concrete further shaped his artistic vision, compelling him to capture the essence of movement and freedom.

Leo Mutobola

Leo's work is a rebellion against the conventional. Eschewing lengthy mood boards and rigid planning, he trusts his instincts, ensuring his photos and videos carry his signature: authenticity and raw emotion. "I go out there and do what I have to the best way I know how," he says, a testament to his confidence and creative spirit.


Despite his individualistic approach, Leo's journey is supported by a community of fellow creatives, including photographers Jesse Barnes, Jason Ockhuizen, and Rof Kutama. Together, they navigate the complexities of the creative world, proving that while the path of an artist may be solitary, it's lined with the support of peers.


Leo Mutobola's story is more than just about photography; it's about carving out an identity in a new world, fuelled by the freedom of expression and the courage to be different. His narrative is a vibrant reminder of the power of passion and the impact of embracing one's true self in the canvas of life.


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