7 talented South African illustrators to watch

Nick Carson picks his favourites from last month's Design Indaba Expo in Cape Town.

A few weeks back, Design Indaba was gearing up to flood South Africa with insight and inspiration across the whole gamut of creative disciplines.

Reporting live from Cape Town, we brought you:

The best of South African design

Running alongside the conference, the Design Indaba Expo showcased the country's best output – from fashion and interiors to product design, illustration and more.

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This included Paper Planes, a group exhibition by local illustration agency Alexander's Band that invited 22 illustrators to create an exclusive piece of artwork along the theme of South African mythology. Here are our seven favourites...

01. Adam Hill aka Velcrosuit

Paper Planes: Adam Hill

Paper Planes: Adam Hill

Adam Hill is a graphic designer, illustrator and musician based in Cape Town. He juggles his nights and days between his two passions – music and design, and likes lasagne, graphic novels and growing a beard.

Describe your style?

I love combining mid-century, abstract, gig poster and simplified styles with my love for texture and warmth.

How did you respond to the brief?

I was excited to illustrate a myth I last read when I was a kid, called 'How The Birds Chose Their King'. The idea for the illustration was actually a collaboration with my girlfriend.

My style offers me the chance to create something graphically bold, but also learn more about reduction and abstraction.

02. Jono Garrett

Paper Planes: Jono Garrett

Paper Planes: Jono Garrett

Johannesburg-born Jono Garrett spent six years in advertising before going freelance three years ago. He focuses on "communication design, with a bit of above-the-line and branding" – and manages to fit illustration in there too.

Describe your style?

Initially my style was dictated by whatever the job required, but lately I've been focusing on basic geometric forms. I was fascinated by Tony Hart as a kid, how he could make animals out of a couple of circles.

I'm also inspired by Cassandre's work, and perhaps a bit of African pattern inspiration thrown in for good measure.

How did you respond to the brief?

My story was about contrast; sunshine and rain, good and evil, love and hate. I wanted to show the two sides of the jackal character - how on one hand he could be so charming, but on the other, so ruthless. Black and white seemed a fitting palette.

03. Maaike Bakker

Paper Planes: Maaike Bakker

Paper Planes: Maaike Bakker

Based in Pretoria, Maaike Bakker is a freelance illustrator who particularly enjoys investigating 'bizarre' themes in her work.

Describe your style?

I prefer a more stylized approach, and tend to implement odd perspectives and enjoy playing with strange compositions. I like vibrant colours, too.

The themes that I explore tend to vary, but mostly include fictitious spaces and landscapes, as well as odd creatures.

How did you respond to the brief?

Despite my story having quite a sombre undertone, I tried to focus on the positive outcome which was that the snake (the protagonist) managed to provide its community with water and thereby revived the land.

The snake is depicted as the 'hero': the awkward perspective is introduced to reveal what is underneath, yet also show how it has influenced the improved condition of the land.

Next page: four more amazing South African talents