Joshua Behrens (top left) working on his most recent project, an abstract piece soon to be unveiled to the public. Behrens received 100% for his final art project in matric last year (bottom left) which helped guarantee his spot at The DAVE School in Orlando, Florida in America and has recently completed a can portrait of Ghandi, on sale now from his mother, Genevieve Black, for R12 000 (right)
Talented artist, environmentalist and animation enthusiast, Joshua Behrens' creativity was first discovered at the age of 16 when he won Collect-a-Can's annual CAN Craze Competition in 2011.
He created a magnificent art piece of former President Nelson Mandela with recycled cans, titled 'True Greatness'. Representatives from Nampak Bevcan, the largest beverage can manufacturer in Southern Africa and partners of Collect-a-Can, were present at the CAN Craze awards ceremony and instantly saw the true creative genius within Behrens.
"A special young man who touches the lives of everyone and anyone he comes into contact with - Joshua Behrens has a true CAN DO! attitude when it comes to achieving his dreams", says Alexandra Bouwer, marketing manager for Nampak Bevcan’s CAN DO! brand.
When asked whether he had any advice for the entrants of the competition this year, Behrens said, “Don’t hold back. Think of something big, something challenging and don’t be lazy. Think of the coolest thing and make it happen through hard work. With the can medium – don’t over complicate your ideas, just make sure that you have a powerful message and something we can all relate to as South African citizens".
Behrens has had his heart set on becoming an animator for many years.
“My mom is most definitely the most influential person in my life. She has always been able to promote and sell me as an artist and has helped get me to where I want to be”, says Behrens.
“She encourages me and is my biggest supporter. That being said, she also provides me with constructive criticism, and a realistic view about where I can go with my art by not giving me false hope”, he continues.
Thanks to his mom's influence and her sheer determination and willingness to do anything for her son, Behrens has received a bursary from The Digital Animation & Visual Effects (DAVE) School in Orlando, Florida in America to study there next year.
“We are excited to welcome Josh Behrens to both the United States and to The DAVE School in Orlando, Florida to study animation and visual effects production. It was clear in our very first communication just how talented, driven, and inspiring this young man is. Josh is exactly the type of student that The DAVE School hopes to find and I believe that the skills he learns with our curriculum and faculty staff will be exactly what he needs to soar in his career”, says Andrea Clemens, Director of Admissions at The DAVE School.
Founder and School Director, Jeff Scheetz adds, “This is an exciting pilot program and we will be watching Josh’s progress very carefully. We hope that should it prove successful, we will be able to offer it to other students in the future”.
Behrens recalls playing with Lego, designing and building different sculptures and explains how he used to steal his mom’s washing pegs, take them apart and sand them down on the rough concrete surface at home, creating ships and other figures. "From a young age, his talent and passion shone through", says Black.
Behrens most aspires to be like Salvador Dali, Spanish artist and surrealist. "Not in his work but in the way in which he lived his life", he explains.
"Dali was well respected for his work and he did what he liked without worrying about what others thought of him. His ability to see beauty in everything around him; his appreciation for the simple things that money can't buy; his eccentricity, passion, creativeness, skill and devotion to his wife are all things I aspire to", says Behrens.
Other artists that Behrens admires include street artists Aryz and Conner Harrington as well as Vincent Van Gough and Edgar Degas.
When asked why he was interested in pursuing a career in animation, Behrens explains that he finds that there are very few limits when it comes to creativity in the animation industry.
“I like animation because it is so creative; it’s not just one work of art. It’s like a whole gallery in one. There is a wonderful combination of music, sculptures, video… it’s a multidimensional industry", says Behrens.
As a child he remembers watching Lion King and being deeply moved by its story. Behrens believes that animation helps make us all appreciate the beauty of our world. He explains how Lion King showcases the beauty of Africa, a place he is proud to call his home. Other favourites include 'Wall-E' and 'The Lorax'.
Behrens feels strongly about protecting the environment and both Wall-E and The Lorax communicate this message.
When asked about a current project that most excites him, Behrens was very secretive. "It's going to be epic!" he said, "It's a large scale rhino piece that will incorporate the number of rhinos that have been killed due to poaching in the last 10 years".
Behrens has started his own campaign to enable him to travel to America and to cover his living expenses for the year in 2015. “My son's destiny as an artist is definite. The how is a mystery and I am fascinated with the process of how this mystery is unfolding”, says Black. She believes with all her heart that Josh will make it. He just needs local funding to help get him there.
If you would like to commission an art piece from this talented teen and invest now in his work's future value, Behrens is available from August until December 2014. Act quickly to avoid disappointment! For more information, contact his mother, Genevieve Black, at Genevieve@genprop.co.za or 082 498 6827.
For more information about Nampak Bevcan visit www.nampak.com/Metals-Bevcan.aspx or contact Tel: 011 519 7711.
For more information about Collect-a-Can and the CAN Craze competition contact the Collect-a-Can head office on 011 466 2939. Collect-a-Can is also on Facebook and Twitter.