Catherine Holtzhausen is a second year Design major at the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography. Often using mixed media collage, Catherine draws on her love for story telling to create her charming works of art.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Somerset West.
How would you describe yourself to someone you’ve just met?
An aspiring creative, believer, observer and tea drinker.
Why did you decide to study graphic design?
Growing up I was constantly told that I was going be an artist one day. Probably because most of my time was spent drawing, painting or just making a mess in the name of art. To my disappointment when I started high school they changed the syllabus and replaced Art with Design. I honestly didn’t even know what Design was, but I took it anyway and ended up loving every element of it. I guess that’s where the love affair began and I haven’t looked back since.
Many of your illustrations are mixed media collages – how did you discover this medium, and what aspects of the process are you attracted to?
To be completely honest, in my first year I hated Illustration with a burning passion. I couldn’t draw, I couldn’t paint and everything I produced was absolute rubbish. Despite all of that, I had an immense appreciation for Illustration and envied those who could draw or paint. One of my lecturers; Rosalind Stockhall, works in mixed-media collage and always encouraged us to try it. It wasn’t until my second year when I finally listened and then all of a sudden it was like a gear had just shifted into place. We did an exercise in which we had to make our own papers, using pen and ink, photocopy it and chop it up and make 2 or 3 characters. I think I ended up making about 8 characters with backgrounds and a typeface. Needless to say I was hooked. Since then I’ve been experimenting with making my own papers on the press, making use of mono-prints, collagraphs, etchings, etc. This medium is appealing to me because I find it to be less controlled than other mediums I’ve worked with. I enjoy the freedom and the mess. It’s exciting to think of the many directions one can take collage illustrations. That’s the beauty of mixed media, I don’t think I’ll ever get bored with it.
What other mediums do you enjoy working with/in?
I have only just started exploring different mediums and directions to take my illustrations but one thing I cannot wait to try is bringing some of my characters and narratives to life with motion animation. I also want to expand my style by combining my collage work with Gouache illustrations or even seeing how my style translates as vector art. I’m pretty excited to just experiment and see what I get.
It seems that you’re drawn to the notion of storytelling, like your project The Jungle Husband which plots a poem by Steevie Smith as an illustrated sequence. How did this aspect of your work begin?
One of the first projects we were given in my second year was to create a booklet for “Peter and the Wolf,” with a new or contemporary narrative. This was where my love for story-telling was born. Story telling came fairly easily to me. Again, it was just like something had clicked and suddenly all made sense. I try to create narratives that are slightly abstract or ambiguous. I enjoy the idea of creating a story around one concept, watching it evolve while I work and seeing it change further when people interpret the narrative in their own way. I like making stories that allow for the viewers’ own interpretation and conclusion.
What other things inspire or influence your work?
A lot of my inspiration comes from music, especially the local music scene. Most of my work is influenced by emotion and body language. I’m also incredibly inspired by the work of other young and upcoming creatives in South Africa. There’s such a creative boom going on, especially here in Cape Town that it’s impossible not to feel motivated and inspired by it all. Other inspirations include children’s books, conversations with friends and writing.
What’s your ideal working environment?
A place where music is playing, fat-pants are welcomed and bras are optional.
Do you have any ideas of what you’d like to do once you complete your studies?
There are so many creative fields that I still want to explore. I’m sure that a post-grad is on the cards but I am unsure whether it will be in Illustration, Animation, Design or Curation.