It’s difficult to look at the quirky illustrations or GIFs created by up-and-coming local creative Kobie Nieuwoudt without at least a slight smile climbing across your lips. Not just technically talented, the graphic design graduate is equally gifted at making people giggle and at capturing the quirks of human nature (particularly local cultural idiosyncrasies) in a lighthearted way.
It’s this ability that won her the position of runner-up in The Foschini Group’s Gift Card Design Competition when she was in her second year of study at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and it’s this ability that recently got her named one of Design Indaba’s 2016 Emerging Creatives. But even though she’s in the spotlight now more than ever before, drawing up magic is something she’s always been doing.
‘The earliest memory I have of drawing is of me lying in the back of my mother’s Jetta and sketching while she drove (I drew a family portrait, including the fantasy cat I wanted at the time),’ Kobie explains.
What she loved about drawing back then, and what she still loves about it now, is its potential to provide solace and focus and to allow her complete freedom in her own private space. Similarly, she found over time that illustrating taught her, a self-professed over-thinker, how to just let go and trust the process – ‘the illustrations I’m most fond of always happen by chance,’ she says.
Of course, she also loves using her work to make people laugh, and she does this by embracing the offbeat and making her drawings and the little phrases that come along with them relatable, so that viewers can laugh at themselves through her work too.
‘My friends have always told me, “you’re weird, but in a good way,” and I think that summarises my style,’ says Kobie, adding, ‘Illustrating is a positive creative outlet for me and I hope my pieces also lighten the mood of those around me.’
Today, Kobie has spread the joy by applying her creations to standard pillows, cushions, continental pillows and a line of mugs, and she’s always on the lookout for new ways to display her drawings on functional objects.
Although she says her vision for the future shifts constantly, she hopes to one day manage her own business and have the capacity to employ others, collaborate with fellow South African artists and showcase her work on an international scale – after all, the rest of the world needs a giggle too.
To see more of Kobies illustrations visit kobanieuwoudt.co.za.