Gerhard van Wyk, an illustrator based in Pretoria, is the head honcho of the design studio Thispencil. Amongst other things, their focus is on producing sublime work, melting faces, drinking coffee, riding bicycles and doing air guitar solos. It’s been a while since we last featured Gerhard’s work, so we decided to do an update and asked him some questions to go with it.
Tell us a bit about your upbringing – what role did creativity play?
I guess it all started with Asterix, Tintin, Lego, Duck-tales and Gummy bears. Somewhere between my mom painting and my dad’s darkroom I figured it’s what I wanted to do.
What led you to pursue a career in design and illustration?
Art was one of the few classes I really enjoyed at school. I also wanted to be a landscape architect or a wine maker but kind of unexpectedly ended up in design and illustration. I still enjoy drinking lots of wine.
You’re an illustrator, designer, captain of Thispencil – what else?
I lecture young padawans part time at the University of Pretoria and also dabble a bit in the coffee industry.
It’s clear that you’re passionate about Pretoria. What are some of the things you love most about it?
It’s raw and honest. Unheard of things are starting to happen here so it’s fun being in the middle of it, even though I’m not sure if I’m actually anywhere near the middle.
Tell us about some of your favourite projects you’ve worked on so far?
Jaco van der Merwe from Bittereinder told me to not tell anybody about a thrilling project we are working on at the moment. In general the stuff I draw in my sketchbooks is what I enjoy the most.
In your opinion, what would the ideal client brief be?
“Here’s a lot of money, travel to these countries as part of your research, start a massive vegetable garden where you see fit and keep a visual journal every day.” 🙂
Concerning your creative process – do you have any routines, or do you prefer to approach it differently each time?
I like to think about projects while swimming or riding my bike. Then when the deadline starts to stalk me and the pressure becomes unbearable I go to my desk. Not sure what happens then.
How would you describe your work to someone who’s never seen it?
Imagine an intense, skinny, Afrikaans male with serious ADHD after 4 cups of coffee drawing folk band members hopping trains.
What influences your work?
A better question would be what does not influence my work.
Name something you can’t go a day without.
Air. (Not the band. But I do like them.)
Tell us about your plans going forward. Where are you, and Thispencil, headed?
Later today I’m going to pick up a bank card and follow that with a nice long swim. Later I want to move into the city centre of Pretoria. I also want to partner with people or other farm animals to do strange and mindful projects. So if you want to join me let me know and I’ll organise a desk and chair. We can probably steal a chair from the Nouvannaand films office next door. Long term I would like to receive a small school bus as a gift, convert it to run on vegetable oil, rig it with an espresso machine, marry Katy Perry, drive a mobile studio across the country and start permaculture vegetable gardens in urban and suburban settings.
And now, if you absolutely had to choose just one – drawing, air guitar, or coffee – which would it be?
Air guitar. Hands down.