4 ways to find your voice as an artist

Why one creative is illustrating the language of Cape Town’s gangsters.

You'll find resources for everything from getting started with ink drawing to choosing the best pencils and drawings tools here on Creative Bloq, but how do you find your own voice?

For illustrator Kobie Niewoudt, a 2016 Design Indaba Emerging Creative, it took many hours of study and a healthy dose of determination…

Niewoudt received invaluable exposure to the commercial side of design while studying towards her degree in graphic design from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), but after graduating still felt "voiceless" in the world of art.

Niewoudt believes that having a particular style – while also remaining versatile – is beneficial when approaching potential clients for work. How? Here are four tips she picked up for cultivating your artistic voice...

01. Study your craft

Find your artistic voice

Nieuwoudt’s parents and teachers recognised her skills as a young artist, prompting her to pursue a career in illustration

Illustration was a personal outlet for Niewoudt during her studies; "a means to escape the formal requirements of commercial design briefs."

Encouragement to further her passion for drawing came from a lecturer at CPUT, and Niewoudt enrolled in a post-graduate course in illustration at the University of Stellenbosch. This decision allowed her to experiment and develop her style as an artist.

"Looking back, I now enjoy the illustration for the same reasons as when I was a child, for the solace and focus it provides," she says.

02. Create personal work

find your artistic voice

Nieuwoudt’s Tsotsitaal series explores the social functions of slang-based language in South Africa's townships

In her latest series of illustrations and GIFs, 'The Performative Nature of Tsotsitaal', Niewoudt explores the communicative nature of 'Tsotsitaal' – the language used by gangsters in South Africa's townships.

For Niewoudt, the way in which people communicate verbally and non-verbally is immensely interesting. Growing up in an Afrikaans household, Niewoudt wanted to investigate a form of communication that differs greatly from the culture and language she knows. She also wanted to communicate it through a medium she knows well.

03. Experiment with different media

find your artistic voice

Yellow Pages is another piece from Nieuwoudt’s Tsotsitaal series

Alongside her favourite media like pencil sketches, gouache and collages, Niewoudt added a digital medium to her repertoire after she was introduced to GIF-making.

"I usually give myself the challenge to create an expressive, entertaining GIF out of the least amount of frames. I enjoy a challenge," she says.

04. Finish what you start

find your artistic voice

Illustrated cushion designs

Niewoudt's motivation to create stems from a strong opposition to the idea of 'creative block'. She says that when she has an idea for a project, she can't let it go until it's completed.

"I stopped believing in creative block, because once you say you have it, it makes it worse and you start believing it," she explains.

Kobie Niewoudt is one of Design Indaba's Emerging Creatives 2016. To see more of her work head to her website. To see the full collection of featured South African creatives go to: designindaba.com/southafricandesign.

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