7 talented South African illustrators to watch

04. Rikus Ferreira

Paper Planes: Rikus Ferreira

Paper Planes: Rikus Ferreira

Rikus Ferreira is a graphic designer, illustrator and artist living and working in Cape Town. He has won numerous local and international awards, and has exhibited his work both locally and abroad. His work deals mainly with the art of the visual narrative.

Describe your style?

I would say my style is influenced by underground comics, especially French. Also South African landscapes and colours. I like to have an element of surrealism in my work too.

How did you respond to the brief?

My story was about the tokoloshe - a smallish river creature that lures unsuspecting kids from the safety of their villages to the riverside. He uses fruits and other delicious foods as bait.

There are different takes on the story - some say he then eats the kids. Legend has it that you should put your bed on bricks to avoid the tokoloshe, because of his height he would then be unable to get you when you're sleeping.

05. Simone Hodgskiss aka Pearly Yon

Paper Planes: Simone Hodgskiss

Paper Planes: Simone Hodgskiss

After seven years in the advertising industry, Simone Hodgskiss took a leap of faith into the world of freelance design and illustration, working under the name Pearly Yon.

Describe your style?

I'd describe it as vector-based line work. I'm strongly influenced by the old and ornate, which comes through in the use of borders and patterns in my work.

How did you respond to the brief?

I took the gist of my story, which involved an elephant and a self-sacrificial snake, and made them the focus. I used the smaller details of the story in a symbolic way to create the borders and flesh out the story.

The elephant was meant to be a skeleton, but after illustrating it I realised an elephant skeleton isn't easily recognisable - it looked more like a walrus. So I changed it to a traditional elephant head.

06. Sonia Dearling aka Hirschling

Paper Planes: Sonia Dearling

Paper Planes: Sonia Dearling

Sonia Dearling grew up in Pretoria, and after studying communication design landed a job at top South African agency Shift Joe Public in Johannesburg. She enjoys yoga and consuming "vast amounts of peanut butter and cinnamon".

Describe your style?

It's still very much in development, but my work has been described as bold and tactile with a lot of emphasis on colour.

How did you respond to the brief?

My illustration is inspired by a grim South African fable from 1856, in which Nonqawuse, a young Xhosa girl, sees strange faces looking up at her from the pool of Gxara.

The faces were the spirits of her ancestors. They whispered that they would help drive away the Europeans as long as the tribespeople promise to burn all their crops and slaughter all of heir cattle as a sign of good faith.

Nonqawuse's message caused a killing frenzy, resulting in starvation and mass death of the Xhosa tribe. Her name and the pool of Gxara still remain a curse for the Xhosa people.

07. Toby Newsome

Paper Planes: Toby Newsome

Paper Planes: Toby Newsome

After a brief spell in advertising, Cape Town-based Toby Newsome turned to freelancing, balancing illustration commissions with book jacket design. He loves interpreting text and distilling it into core visual images.

Describe your style?

Whimsical. An appreciation of the past: in terms of draughtsmanship but also older printing techniques, and production: misregistered printing plates interest me.

There's a feeling of collage with much of my work. I like working with loose shapes, patterns, and a delicate line.

How did you respond to the brief?

I read all the stories, and The Enchanted Forest was a clear favourite. I decided on a 'key' scene in the story, and did a few very quick sketches to determine a rough composition.

The final illustration is an organic process: building and collaging shapes and elements, and also involves trying to stay loose and spontaneous – I feel that's very important, especially when working digitally.

Words: Nick Carson

Nick Carson is the editor of Computer Arts magazine. You can read more about the Paper Planes exhibition over on the Design Indaba website.

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