Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Let's Talk Art with Koitie Van Wyk

Tell us about yourself. What makes you tick?  You know the old cliché “I think with my hands”?  I cannot think of a better way to describe myself.  Creating makes me tick.  The whole creative process still fascinates me – each and every day.  I think it’s a curiosity thing…  You start with an idea and end up with a physical object (that usually ends up looking totally different than what you imagined).  It’s like magic.

How did you get started as an illustrator?  Since I was little, I loved art.  My dad used to call me “koTie Paper”, because I always had paper and art supplies with me – I still do.  Most of my training and interests used to be in fine arts and about a year and a half ago, I just stumbled into illustration.  It’s as if a whole new world opened up for me.  It feels like a perfect fit.  Although I’m a firm believer that things happen (when they do) for a reason, I still often wonder why I discovered my passion for illustration only later in life.

How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?  Living in colourful South Africa has a great influence on my work, but I only realised it in the past few months.  Things look and sound different here than for instance in the US and Europe.  If I have the choice I’ll only be working in bright colours (and plenty of them).  I really struggle to tone down or limit my palette, but it’s these challenges that make art fun and rewarding.  I think one of the things that really defines my style is my love for imperfect line drawings.  I guess I just did what came from my heart and kept on making art…  Every day.  In the beginning I used to think I don’t know what my style is and that I perhaps don’t even have a style.  It made me doubt myself, but the moment I just decided to let it go and just create – it started falling in place.  My style do change, but I think it’s a natural part of your growth and development – and also how you are just getting more comfortable in your own skin.  Style is an organic thing and it will always change, but what makes it unique is that it is yours.

Can you briefly explain your creative process, mediums, etc?  I like drawing freehand with no pre-work in pencil…  And if I do make use of a pencil, I prefer not to use an eraser.  Whether I’m drawing with my favourite medium, pen or making a sketch in paint or ink – the same rules apply.  When I was doing fine arts I used to be very hard on myself.  I would beat myself up if lines, figures, faces and objects were not drawn perfect.  I’m a bit OCD like that.  But the problem with that type of approach is that it’s hard on you and creating gets taxing.  You question yourself all the time and easily loses your mojo. 

How do you come up with new ideas? Do you have a process?  I don’t look for new ideas, they find me.  Keeping yourself open for those ideas to find you is the most crucial step in the creative process
Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?  Yes.  I ride them out.  The bigger fuss I make out of creative/artist's block…  The bigger the slump becomes.  I will often use the opportunity to brainstorm ideas with my husband or kids.  Often they will just say something (even if it’s off topic) that will just spark the mojo.  My advice is not to make more of a creative slump than what it is…  Eventually it will pass.

Best / most fun part of your job:  Being able to create non-stop.

Worst / most difficult part of your job:  Being able to create non-stop.  It’s an oxymoron.  I create all of the time…  Even if it’s in my head.  I’ll make drawings in my head when I see everyday objects, or new ideas will find me in the supermarket queue.  This may sound great, but there’s no office door you can close and say tonight is my night off.  Having a studio at home adds to the craziness, but I won’t change it for the world.

Do you have side projects you work on?  Except for being a wife and mother – all my projects are illustration related.  I’ll be presenting creativity classes, starting next week, where I would love to bring people to art and art to people.  I hope to encourage people that believe they are not creative (or not creative enough) or even feel they are not artistic to start creating.  In our journey I hope to teach them a few techniques that may create that spark.

What’s on your horizon? Any current/future projects and plans/dreams you can share with us?  I’m planning to launch my own collection of products – hopefully this year.  I want to get some of my favourite illustrations printed on various items and start selling them – probably to fun little gift shops.

 5 things inspiring you/your work right now:  Everyday objects, my surroundings, animals, hand lettering, characters (often Japanese inspired/influenced).

3 constants in your day:  My daily doodle, creating new portfolio pieces and spending time with my family.
Your #1 art tip or words of wisdom:  Don’t overthink your art.
Please send when we can find you online: 

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