ADC’s Illustration Month marches onward! We’ve been blessed by the sheer number of illustrators within the ranks of ADC Members, and it’s been wonderful to not only see their work but also learn about the similarities and differences of their career paths and philosophies.
Wrapping up this week’s showcase of ADC Members is a Cape Town-based illustrator who was also one of our original ADC Portfolio Night All-Stars.
Just about every kid can draw, but not every kid is particularly gifted at it. Where did your childhood artistic inclinations come from?
I have just always loved art. I remember being in Grade 1 and having to draw out images to match the letters of the alphabet, you know, ‘A’ for ‘apple’ and so on. For ‘F’ I drew a fire – kind of like a campfire, complete with logs and flames that had flowing gradients from red to orange to yellow. I’ll never forget how astonished my grade 1 teacher was when she saw that drawing, I got a bunch of gold stars and even got to show it to the principal – its one of my earliest memories of feeling kind of proud of myself. After that and throughout my childhood, I entered and won a variety of competitions, from colouring–in to book cover design.
It was one of my best subjects throughout my school career. The art class was definitely my favourite place to be, so, it just seemed natural for me to move into some art-related career.
I think my parents always knew that I would end up there eventually and they have always been very supportive of my career choice. I think it takes a special type of parent to support a child that wants to go into an artistic career since there is so much scepticism out there about whether it actually is a good career path to take. So, thanks mom and dad for believing in my dreams!
How would you describe your illustrative style? Do you fight against having a particular style, or do you embrace your style as your “brand”?
Defining your own style is probably the hardest thing ever. Every day I’m learning and every year I look back at the previous years’ work and know that my style has grown and developed exponentially.
I’ve recently read an article that was against an illustrator developing a particular style and I must say, I kind of agree. Avoiding a ‘particular style’ means being able to offer a variety of clients, a variety of styles – instead of only being able to provide a small niche set of clients, a single style. The job opportunities are just much greater if you can offer much more. I find it challenging to be able to take on a new, different style.
I am currently working two distinct styles. The first is a more organic style, with flowing curves and very slight hint of realism which works better for personal work. The second is very vector and geometric with block-like characters which works better for commercial work. Many times I combine the two. I get different clients that request different styles depending on their needs. It just works.
“Every day I’m learning and every year I look back at the previous years’ work and know that my style has grown and developed exponentially.”
Walk us through your usual creative process.
The conceptual part is the part I often spend the most time on. I usually like to draw out that which I am seeing in my head and then change and modify the sketch until I am 100% happy with it on a conceptual and visual level.
From that point onwards it’s usually just the execution process where I scan it in and start to digitalise it. Once I start to see that which I have imagined become a reality I am hooked. After that there is no stopping me, I could sit for hours and days and work and work and work until a project is complete.
Tools of the trade: do you have any specific pens, pencils or other instruments that you swear by?
I pretty much can’t do my work without my trusty Wacom Tablet, Illustrator and Photoshop. Those are my three essentials.
What is the most challenging thing about a career in illustration?
To me this goes hand in hand with ‘the most challenging thing about a career as a freelancer’.
I’m not planning on giving up any time soon though!
Is there a particular project of yours of which you’re especially proud?
Honestly, no. I am very hard on myself and very critical of my own work. I’ve received quite a few accolades for a few of my projects of which I am proud, but I try not to let it get to my head. I believe that without criticism there can never be improvement and I strive to constantly improve my work.
“I believe that without criticism there can never be improvement and I strive to constantly improve my work.”
Cocktail party talk: how do you describe what you do to someone who isn’t in a creative field, and what’s the typical response you get from them?
This is a funny one. I had a good friend ask me the other day: “What exactly do you do again?” I had to laugh, some people just don’t understand our jobs.
I simply say: “I make stuff look nice” and if they need me to elaborate then I say say: “You know – list items here – my job is to make that look nice.”
Where do you seek out creative inspiration?
Books, Stories, Facts and Folklore are my biggest inspiration and trigger my imagination like crazy.
Which professional creatives do you look up to and why?
I am extremely inspired by my fellow South African Illustrators! Here are a few:
At the end of the day, what do you love most about being an illustrator?
You know how when you read a really good book and you get so lost in the story that when you stop reading it, it feels like you’ve been lost at sea for a few hours need to ‘resurface’ into reality? It’s the best feeling ever. I feel that way when I illustrate.
Illustration Month continues throughout January and February, and is open exclusively to ADC Members. Not yet a Member? Join today!