Tyla Mason’s work is playful and honest, striking a chord between the whimsical and the tangible. She explains how when she was a child, all the adults around her would act overly excited and say she was destined to be a cartoonist or children’s book illustrator. Despite their politeness – or so she thinks – Tyla decided to pursue a creative career in communication design.
We chatted to her about dreams, the South African creative industry and where she sees herself in 10 years time.
What did you study and where?
I studied at Cape Town Creative Academy. I did a BA degree in Communication Design and took Illustration as an elective. I figured out quite early on that I wanted to become an illustrator and kind of focused on ways of incorporating illustration into my design projects.
Please tell us about some of themes and ideas you’ve been exploring with your student work.
I was always one for finding wormholes in our briefs so that I could explore themes that I was questioning outside of college. I can’t say there were any consistent themes but I tried to typically make work that was friendly, accessible and honest.
How did this feed into your final project? What was the concept and how did you execute it?
For one of our last projects at CTCA, we were given an editorial brief centered on the topic of mind-wandering. At the time, I was having all these crazy stress-induced dreams and responded to the brief by investigating the places your mind wanders to in your sleep. I have always found that dreams hold a great deal of magic and mystery. My Dream Zine looked at the purpose of dreaming; why we seem to have certain dreams in common and what these dreams may signify. Almost everyone has at some point experienced the dream where you lose all your teeth, the dream where you are naked in public or the dream where you are bffs with your favourite celebrity. This was just a fun inventory of these strange dreams and the possible interpretations of them.
It also nice to be dipping my toe in to such a teeming creative industry; to feel that I’m connected to something and to have so much inspiration from other creative people around me.
What has your experience as a student been like? What valuable lessons did you learn along the way?
One of the most valuable things I learnt through studying was to try and absorb as much knowledge about the world as possible. As a visual communicator I feel you have an ethical responsibility to engage with as many different kinds of discourse as possible, and to understand ways of seeing the world that are perhaps different from your own, so that you can be aware of what signifiers are present in your work.
Paying attention in class and reading up about stuff also means you will gain loads of cool facts.
What excites you most about the South African creative industry?
A thing I like about the South African creative industry is that people trust their weird ideas. It’s a struggle to try and find a job that will earn you money and keep you creatively stimulated, but I admire people in South Africa because they are often willing to take the risk of pursuing their creative ambitions, however obscure and fruitless they may seem.
It’s also nice to be dipping my toe into such a teeming creative industry; to feel that I’m connected to something and to have so much inspiration from other creative people around me.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
I don’t like to think too far into the future, but I keep having these dreams about being in a workspace – it’s incredibly organised and there are all different kinds of art supplies and there’s a cat and a cup of coffee and there are pictures on the wall that I have made that I am actually proud of. In the dream I am confident in my abilities. I would like that someday.
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