Great pointers from SA’s hottest illustrators.


“Don’t be afraid to craft your illustrations. Consider how light, texture and illustrative detail can enhance the mood and atmosphere. Don’t shy away from spending the extra time to add this kind of detail. Many illustrators try to get by without putting a lot of effort into their work. Illustration with a well-crafted concept and detailed execution is more likely to resonate with the viewer, whether they are conscious of it or not. These are the attributes that provide context. Working in this way is what separates good illustration from the rest. If you put love into your work, that’s what you’ll get out.”


“I would say you should broaden your horizons and seek an audience and clients outside of South Africa. The internet allows for this, like never before. Put your art everywhere on every applicable platform: Facebook, Twitter, DeviantArt, Behance, Artstation, Tumblr, Pinterest and hireanillustrator.

“Plaster your work everywhere and often. The earlier you start an online presence, the better.”


“The best advice I have for young illustrators in South Africa just starting out, is to create self-initiated projects. Come up with a good concept for a project and see how far you can take it. These projects allow you to discover what type of work you enjoy and give you confidence in terms of seeing a project through from start to end. Other than that, this could ultimately also serve as a bit of a ‘breakthrough’ in terms of receiving publicity in the industry context. These projects eventually form an important part of one’s portfolio as they can bring in commissions and might help you sharpen up on your skill-set.”


“My top tip would have to be work as hard as you can to find your own style and direction as early as possible.

“When you leave college, there’s a lot of pressure on you to find work and I think people often try to create pieces of work like individuals or studios that are doing well at the time. This is a safe way to go about getting work, but trends come and go. Use this time during your studies to experiment and research. If you don’t quite know already, find out exactly what type of work you love. Often it will be something seemingly unrelated.



“It is quite daunting starting out as a new illustrator in South Africa as we are surrounded with creations of incredible illustrations and illustrators, but everyone had to start somewhere. All styles have to be developed which means a lot of experimentation.

“I’d encourage all new illustrators to try new techniques and styles in order to broaden their horizons. Sooner or later you’ll gain a developed and set method of illustrating which may limit your experimentation opportunities….. oh and hit ‘cmd + save’ as often as possible.”


“See yourself as a brand. Think of how you would promote that brand, who your target audience would be and what message or style you want to convey. Be scrupulous in the selection of work you put out there. If you’re building a portfolio on creative platforms like Behance, only upload work you are proud of. It’s better to have one great piece than 5 mediocre items of work.

“Be yourself in all things you do, but be mindful of your interaction you have online, from what you post socially, how you reply to emails and what work you decide to show, it all contributes to the “brand” you are building.”


“My advice to anyone fresh to the creative industry would be to neverabandon your passion projects. No matter how overwhelming or time-consuming paid work becomes, dedicate a considered effort to something that excites you.

“Whether you are participating in an exhibition, creating a zine or knitting your own range of Pulp Fiction themed socks; your passion projects create a space for you to explore and develop your style and skills. You will even find that they will fuel you to work with more creativity and efficiency within your workplace.”


“Spend time developing your own style and trust yourself to pursue it. Don’t be overly influenced by current trends. Seek inspiration locally – South Africa is a rich society, both culturally and visually and really does have a unique perspective to offer the world.

“Lastly, I’ve always valued looking outside the discipline of illustration for inspiration – contemporary art, fashion and textile design, music and literature.”


“Never be happy with your work!

“That doesn’t mean that you can’t like what you’ve done – but never be comfortable, never be content with your output. Always consider what you can do better and what aspects of your illustration you can improve upon. To put it another way: aspire to always be better than you currently are!”

curated and condensed for the DI, originally posted on idesigni