Casper Schutte’s macabre, entertaining and narrative led illustrations

We’ve been hard at work for our Graphic Art Month lately, featuring heavyweight agencies, well-known freelance designers and long time industry stalwarts. However, it’s always good to get a fresh perspective from someone new to the industry, and Casper Schutte is exactly that. Having only recently completed his studies, Casper now works for Kinsmen Collective, but is always busy with a few personal projects, a work ethic he garnered while studying. 

Casper’s work finds its home in digital illustration and shines through in his macabre cartoons and narrative led illustrations. Having recently worked with a company who source designers and illustrators to recreate people’s strange and wonderful dreams, Casper was afforded the opportunity to let his creativity flow uninhibited, allowing him to traverse a wide range of styles and techniques. 

We had a quick chat with Casper about his style, uncontrollable appetite for media, and how he came to find a love for graphic design.

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First off, tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got into graphic design and illustration?

I grew up on a farm in the Eastern Cape, and I hated the outdoors. I’ve always been drawing and doodling on everything but I never really gave a career in the creative field much thought until I attended the Toffie Pop festival in Cape Town in 2009. There I saw for the first time exactly what I wanted to do. It was so weird how something just suddenly clicked, and I was dead set on becoming a graphic designer. So in 2013 I started attending the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography and I graduated in 2015. Since then I’ve been working at the Cape Town based Kinsmen Collective.

Your character illustrations have a very distinct, almost twisted cartoon like style. Where do you get your inspiration from?

Cartoons and comic books have always been a great inspiration, but I consume media at a quite alarming pace. Everything from movies, series, books, magazines and basically anything I can get my hands on. I’m also a bit of a hoarder and my apartment is filled with things that could inspire me. I try to pay as much attention to my environment as I can, since you never know what might jump out at you. I also have a bit of an odd sense of humour, so I try to use that in my work as much as possible.

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You work with pen and ink illustrations, digital collages, and even lino prints. What’s your favourite medium to work with and why?

My favourite medium at the moment is definitely digital drawing, although I go through so many existential crises about my style and medium that it changes every week. But with digital I always have a sense of control that I don’t have in any physical medium. It allows me to spend hours tweaking and making up my mind about certain details until I feel that a project is done, or just before I start hating it.

With commissioned work, how do you go about navigating artistic licence and client brief?

Well I haven’t worked with that many clients directly so I’ve been fortunate not to have to deal with too much of the real world hassles. I was a commissioned illustrator for an online collection of artists and illustrators from all across the world called Dreame, we illustrated people’s dreams. It was a really interesting experience and I had complete creative freedom, and now I have a great job and I also have a lot of time to work on my own work, so I’ve been lucky in that regard.

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Tell us about the process of illustrating strangers’ dreams and stories through Dreame. 

On one hand it was extremely odd to have such a personal view into someone’s subconscious, but on the other hand it was such an interesting exercise. I had absolute creative freedom so I could really let go. I tried not to be straightforward with the dreams at all and instead I opted for something a bit more surreal, since dreams are never straight forward. It was always so interesting that from only drawing a person’s dreams, you can tell a lot about what their lives are about and what fills their thoughts. It really opened my eyes.

You’ve done a few short story illustrations too. What’s the interest there?

I’ve always been an avid reader and obsessed with words. And for me illustrating a piece of text or story is a way for me to show people what I am imagining while reading. It’s also a way to add to a story and almost take ownership of my imagination when triggered by these stories.

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Looking ahead, where would you like to see yourself and your work in the next few years?

That’s a hard question, I can’t really say where I want to be or what I’d want to have done. Since things rarely work how I think they’re going to. At the moment I have so many ideas that I am excited about, and if I work hard enough I hope to see them through. All I can say is that I hope I am able to keep doing what I’m doing and I want to just do the best I can with whatever I’m working on.

Find more by Casper on his Behance.

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