BIC® Art Master Competition – A Platform For African Talent Says Judge


“The 2019 BIC® Art Master Africa Competition provides a platform for African artists to showcase their work and demonstrate the continent’s rich culture, heritage and love of art to rest of the world,” says Hein Liebenberg, 2019 BIC® Art Master Africa judge.

With €5,500 up for grabs, 2019 BIC® Art Master Africa, a talent search competition which was launched in 2017, has become a highly anticipated competition for artists across the African continent. The main requirement of the competition is that participants use BIC® ballpoint pens to create their artworks.

With the voting phase nearing a close on 30 November, the competition will be judged during the first week of December. One artist will be awarded €5,000 and the title of Art Master Africa. A second prize of €500 and a BIC® Art Mastery Kit will be awarded to the People’s Choice Prize winner.

Liebenberg is one of five judges from the Africa and Europe continent who will be judging the competition. He is joined by Ghana-based ball pen artist, Enam Basokah, Dubai-based art collector, Geoffroy Bich, Dubai-based art collector, Valerie Manourvrier, Dubai-based ball pen artist and France-based art consultant, Hervé Mikaeloff.       

An art teacher at South Africa’s Inscape Education Group, Liebenberg was first introduced to the competition in 2018 when BIC® ran a promotion programme at the Inscape campus.

Liebenberg says BIC® enlisted his services as a judge upon discovering he had been working in higher education and judging creative work for the past eight years. “I have been working as an art and design educator since 2012 and hold an honours degree in graphic design and post graduate qualification in education.”

In addition, he helped design this year’s marking rubric for the competition alongside BIC® Brand and Digital Manager for Middle East & Africa, Ahmed Gowda. “I have come up with many rubrics in my career and understand the complexity involved in creating a tool for assessing creative work,” he adds.

With many artists choosing to create portraits in previous competitions, Liebenberg hopes to see more work that interprets urban settings, birds, animals or landscapes using only a blue BIC® ballpoint pen. He will also be looking at how textures and contrasts are rendered using the medium.

His advice to aspiring young artists is to trust and love their own styles. “When you put pen to paper or brush to a canvas without thinking about it too much, what comes out is you. Love and embrace it. If you believe in this intuitive style, others will too. Don’t be a copycat. Rather focus on what makes you different. If Picasso and Matiss had copied other artists, we wouldn’t be studying them or standing in queues to see their art.”

He says winning or placing high in the BIC® Art Master Africa Competition is likely to open doors for artists. “The competition is a vehicle for them to demonstrate their work and passion to the world. It also presents an excellent opportunity for them to become entrepreneurs and inspire others to follow their passion of creating art.”

Vote for your favourite artwork by visiting

Thanks for reading and for your interest in South Africa. Content is produced in collaboration between iAfrica’s editorial team and partners — including nongovernmental organizations, private sector stakeholders, agencies and institutions. If you are interested in sharing stories to shine a spotlight on a particular issue, please email We look forward to hearing from you.