Young&gifted illustrator Karabo Moletsane who is purely a visual,emotional,visceral kind of artist,let’s find out more.

karabo portrait 2

  1. Introduction on who Karabo Moletsane is?

Karabo Poppy Moletsane is a Gold Craft Loerie award winning Pretoria based Illustrator/Designer who is passionate about the preservation of the African aesthetic. She is drawn to all that makes South Africa so full of zest, culture and innovation.  She also founded a creative agency called Mother Tongue – Creative House. This agency explores South Africa’s aesthetic and creative identity through Illustration and Design.  Karabo is currently completing an Honor’s degree in Visual Communication at The Open Window Institute.

karabo  loeries award    karabo portrait

2.What are three words that best describes your work?


– Quirky


3.How did you get into illustration?

It was purely an accident!  When it came to choosing a second major in varsity, my first year drawing lecturer had suggested I take Illustration as one of my majors, so I did!  Not thinking it would be the best decision I’ve ever made!

karabo 10                   Johan Adidas RGB

4.Which course have you done?

A BA Visual Communication and double majored in Illustration and Communication Design at The Open Window Institute.

5.What is your favorite type of commercial project and why?

It changes all the time, but at the moment my favourite commercial project is the Adidas Originals’ Rita Ora Spring/Summer ’15 campaign.  We see how Adidas is not only uniting with a musician here but with loads of contemporary illustration as well.  We see how contemporary illustration is the main influence for the concept direction of the campaign and also for all the clothing that came from this range.  It was great to see illustration playing such a major role in a project of that magnitude and also highlighting one of my favourite aspects of illustration – that it is not confined to a still image on a screen or on some paper but it is easily applied to fashion and video

karabo 2   karabo 3   karabo 4

6.Is your work more conceptual or decorative?

My work is definitely a hybrid of the two.  The decorative aspects are more obvious although I do explore some conceptual themes within all the decorative use of color, type and line work.

7.Who is your audience?

Anyone who is curious about the African aesthetic and may want to see my perspective on the environment around me Gauteng – South Africa

8.How did your parents react to your choice of career? Because we all know not all parents are supportive of careers in the Arts.

My parents were obviously not too excited to hear that I wanted to pursue a career in the Arts, considering that both my parents grew up in an era with not many illustrator and designers to reference.  Although my dad was still pretty supportive in and amongst his apprehension, my mom was the one who needed more time and convincing though.  But I am happy to say that after almost 5 years, they have both come around and show more and more interest in Illustration, Design and its reputability everyday – its quite adorable.

karabo 5   karabo 6    karabo 7

  1. What is your working environment like?

My work environment is always at one of three spaces; a home office, a shared creative studio with photographers and fellow illustrators and the occasional coffee shop once in a while.  I rotate between the 3 spaces pretty often.

10.Do you meet up with other illustrators in person? Who?

These are the illustrators I see most often;

Amber Smith

Bianca Brand

Maaike Bakker

Nina Torr

11.Who are some of your favorite illustrators and why?

Garth Walker– shows great exploration of the South African aesthetic and also contributes to its preservation too.

Stacy Rozich– great use of color and movement in her illustrations and an overall quirkiness that is a constant theme for her.

Sindiso Nyoni–also shows great exploration of the African aesthetic and brings forth a refinement and sophistication to it all.

Maaike Bakker– she’s pretty much taught me a lot of what I know about illustration.

 Clinton Campbell – also shows great exploration of the South African aesthetic and a sense of patriotism too.

karabo 8            karabo 9

12.Do you think an illustrator needs a style? Why? Do you have tips on developing an illustration style?

I believe that every illustrator has a style in them whether one is fond of it or not.  It’s not really something that you create or forge but rather something that you build and understand.  No two people draw alike or think alike and this is what begins to inform an illustrator’s style.  What is then important is embracing your unique style, learning to understand it, work on making it better and in turn use it to contribute to the aesthetic identity of you country.

13.What is the key element you’ve learned in Illustration?

South African illustrators have countless opportunities to be cultural provocateurs and it’s our responsibility to be both.

14.What helps you be more creative?                                                                                                                           Flaneuring through Pretoria and Johannesburg CBD’s and finding new places to explore, new people to talk to and new restaurants to try out.

15. Can you suggest 3 artists or illustrators we should check out?                                        

 – Inus Pretorius.

– Amber Smith

– Lazi Mathebula

karabo 11    karabo 12

16.Anything to expect from you?

Collaborating with The Bright Night Project (

A few group exhibitions

Collaborating with Woolworths, MRP and Cotton On.

The official launch of Mother Tongue Creative House in October 2015

Keep in touch with Karabo Moletsane through the following:

Twitter: @karabo_poppy

Instagram: @karabo_poppy.

We from TheCreativePattern would love to thank Miss Moletsane for having a chat with us about her life as an illustrator.May God bless you & your future plans & may the Mother Tongue Creative House launch be a success.

I leave you with a meaningful quote:

“As an illustrator you need to understand the human body – but having looked at and understood nature, you must develop an ability to look away and capture the balance between what you’ve seen and what you imagine”.~

Quentin Blake


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