In yet another example of someone choosing to get innovative with plastic, rather than throwing it out, South African artist Mbongeni Buthelezi has developed a whole new painting style that he describes as “plastic fantastic.” He starts his plastic painting process by scouring the streets outside his Johannesburg painting studio, looking for discarded plastic trash. He then melts the colorful plastic with a heat gun and applies the resulting mixture to a canvas in order to create his exquisite portraits.

Buthelezi made the decision to start working with plastic after realizing it was better to recycle existing materials rather than buy expensive paints. “Good art doesn’t always come from expensive materials … you don’t need to have a lot of money to achieve your dream,” Buthelezi said. “I literally constructed my life from nothing, nothing in the sense that I go out there, collect plastics, bring them back in to my studio, and do something about it. Art is so important in my life in so many ways. This is the only way I express my feelings. If I say that an artist is the mirror of any society, where he or she finds themselves in, in my case … I wouldn’t like to die without making a meaningful impact in the society.”


The video above shows Buthelezi in his studio and on the streets, talking viewers through his technique and displaying some of his portraits. Want to see more of Buthelezi’s incredible work? Some of his paintings can be viewed here.