art, Interviews

body of work: karabo poppy moletsane

Graeme Wyllie


Known for her signature digital illustrations and incredible designs, Karabo Poppy Moletsane is blazing her own trail in South Africa's creative landscape. The illustrator and designer uses the body – hers and others – as her tool for creation and self-expression.

feet

My feet are my carriers when I explore areas of inspiration: city barbershops and hair salons of Hillbrow and Pretoria CBD, the market and arcade of Church Square in Pretoria, and food trucks all over Johannesburg. I also like sneakers, and have a collection consisting of over 30 pairs – I enjoy wearing great design on my feet, and celebrate this in my everyday life.

knees and legs

In November last year, I was invited by the University of California and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive to paint a wall within the museum. I spent close to a month working and climbing scaffolding while completing an Afro-Futurist mural made up of portraits of people in South Africa whom I had photographed. My knees and legs played a large role in my completing one of my biggest and most detailed artworks.

mouth

For me, the mouth is secondary when it comes to getting my messages across, and I use it to communicate things when I have not yet done so through my art. The words I speak are often focused around inspiring young black females to pursue careers in creative industries. Our voices, ideas and works are vital in cultivating a strong contemporary African aesthetic and preserving it for future generations. Let’s make history together.

eyes

My eyes take in my surroundings in a unique way that allows me to stylise my work by colouring my images in peculiar, highly saturated hues. I am inspired by the aspects of South Africa that make it visually captivating, and use art to celebrate these idiosyncrasies rather than exploit them

head

This is where all concepts and artworks begin, where current ideas get shaped, where future works make a first appearance, where I make plans to further my career, and where the solving of problems using art begins. Issues around identity and equality are often confronted in both my work and my life.

nose

The nose is a significant feature within my illustrations. I stylise the noses of all my figures to a highly geometric shape, which is a complete juxtaposition to the organic nature of the rest of my lines and forms. The nose is quite a prominent part of the face, and I think this allows for some play and experimentation.

hands

These are my main tools of communication. I create illustrations, street art and designs, but also dabble in music – I play the guitar and synth in a band – to see if I can build an audible version of a visual experience. I also plan to continue my body modification journey through to my hands and fingers by covering them with tattoos. This is closely linked to my love of fashion, where I see body modification as adding to and enhancing the clothes that I wear.