Hey Illustration!

Studio visits with Illustrators. Exploring workspaces and asking questions about creative and professional practice.

Edited by Abi Heyneke - www.abiheyneke.com

Hooksmith

Hooksmith Press

Russell Frost is a New Zealander and letterpress printer who works under the name Hooksmith. I visited him at his studio, which is basically half the lounge of his Victorian terraced home in Leytonstone, East London. 

Letterpress used to be the most practical way to publish and advertise; once commercial, it is now considered artisan.

Russell’s work involves rediscovering and rescuing antiquated technology and putting it back to good use. He finds equipment that has been abandoned. He scours ebay for wooden and metal type, and image blocks that might be of interest. Many alphabets are over 100 years old and still function, even if a few letters are missing and some of the blocks are burned at one end.

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Mr Bingo

Mr Bingo

On the one hand you could call his work hate fuelled and foul-mouthed, but at same time the cheeky sense of fun and love shine through in Mr Bingo’s work. He’s made a business out of sending hate mail to strangers, so I thought I’d ask a few questions to try and figure out how strikes a balance between vitriol and lols.

I paid a visit to Mr Bingo in his East London Studio. He shares the space with George Mellor - an Illustrator better known as Sister Arrow, and Dave Brown - Photographer, Art Director, Actor, also known as Bollo from the Mighty Boosh.

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Jean de Wet

Jean de Wet at work

I had never met Jean de Wet before our studio visit, only seen his work and heard about his nocturnal lifestyle and passionate dedication. You can almost see it in his pages of tightly packed line-work, simultaneously defined and hazy. A kind of visual anarchy to decipher; where every dot, dash and line is given equal weight.

He creates illustrations, comics, books and art from a studio room in his flat in Cape Town. I dropped round for a chat about what he does and why.

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Am I Collective

Christo, Chris and Mark in the Am I Collective studio

As soon as I started talking to illustrators in Cape Town I realised that I would have to pay a visit to Am I Collective. Pretty much every illustrator that I interviewed had passed through the Am I Collective studio at some point. I myself did a couple of weeks freelance with them when I graduated in 2007 so maybe it’s the circles I move in, but there’s no denying the impact that Am I Collective have had on the creative industry in South Africa. They approach illustration with team spirit, working together to create something bigger than any one person. 

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Skinny laMinx, Bree Street

Skinny laMinx shop front

Heather Moore is the imagination behind Skinny laMinx: a South African design label that makes printed fabrics and lots of lovely things for your home and life. Heather explains the brand best herself in this cute video. Unusually for an Illustrator she has a shop, not just online but a real bricks and mortar shop on Bree Street in Cape Town. I visited Heather recently in her studio up on the roof.

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Muti, Cape Town

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On an Autumn day in Cape Town, with Table Mountain completely obscured by clouds, I visited a beautiful old pink and white building in the heart of the City Bowl. The building is home to several businesses - street level houses the very charming Book Lounge and upstairs you will find workspaces, including Studio Muti

Muti are a collaborative illustration studio: they work together on illustrative and typographic pieces for clients including Condé Nast TravellerBritish Airways and Smirnoff.

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