Leah Kirsten is a USA born, SA based freelance designer and illustrator who first visited our shores during a gap year in 2006. She let us in on why she decided to make SA home and shared her creative journey so far:
I thought it (SA) would be an amazing place to explore, study and attempt to become an adult. I found out about Stellenbosch Academy of Design & Photography through a friend of a friend and loved the work I saw coming from there.
So in 2008, I arrived with 2 suitcases, not knowing what lay ahead. I originally wanted to major in photography but quickly figured out that I wasnâ€™t that great at it, and design was the only other option. Luckily, I fell in love.
At the end of my 2ndÂ year, I had received some fairly negative criticism on my attempt at illustration. I took this into my 3rdÂ year as fuel to prove myself. I immediately dove into illustration head first and never looked back. I worked on a specialised project in the last half of my 3rdÂ year where I focused entirely on patterns & textiles. This led to further studies at CPUT in Surface Design. My year at CPUT was transformational. I had a longing to use my design to actually impact someone.
I chose to work on a series of childrenâ€™s books that were inspired by the marginal elderly community in old age homes in Cape Town. I interviewed several residents about their life and thoughts and morality to create a theme for each book. It was so life-changing to sit down with people who were not necessarily valued in the community anymore and try to bring value to their life again. (See this project here.)
At the moment, I am working for myself doing freelance design, while I figure out what my next step is.
Her Yay! For Today! series was the first of the very interesting projects that make up her portfolio to catch our eye. She explains it as an idea that formed from “an intimate relationship with 2 countries I am willingly stuck between: America and South Africa. Itâ€™s a commentary and celebration of everyday happenings in these regions.”
One of her other projects we’ve chosen to feature is her special edition album artwork forÂ Norwegian band, Kings ofÂ Convenience. Leah explains her concept, “Their lyrics allude to memories and images from theÂ past, so I created a memory-box with postcards inside containingÂ montages and lyrics on the back for each track.”
The last pics here are from her project ‘Assemblage’, aÂ 10 metre long sticker book based on her own creative process. Leah says, “When creating patterns or illustrations, I enjoy drawing multiple elements and then being able to physically rearrange them to create something entirely different and surprising. This would allow others to do the same.”
Find her work atÂ www.behance.net/leahpatrice
From the state of Missouri, it takes 12 – 16 hours to drive to the closest ocean, however there is a 55,000 acre man-made lake (located in Missouri), the Lake of the Ozarks, in which most Missourians drive to in the summer as a getaway destination. Vacationers spend their days lazily floating on rafts often outfitted in Louis Vuitton bikinis, Gucci sunglasses, watershoes, and drinking cheap beer from a cooler.
This state contains a lot of small towns where there is not much to do. But a state where the adult obesity rate is as high as 52% there is always a McDonaldâ€™s, KFC, and plenty of variety when it comes to fast food. Basketball and the Kentucky Derby are popular events to watch, but not necessarily partake in.
Often seen weaving in and out of cars at robots, street vendors attempt to sell anything you could imagine: from hats to vuvuzelas to wire animals to cell phone chargers. With their smooth-talking, relentless, and sly conversation, I am reminded of a pimp who rules the streets. Thus, this pattern was made into a pimp coat, to show everyone whoâ€™s boss.