Based in Pretoria, Louis Minnaar has worked as a Designer, Animator, Illustrator, Director and ‘general picture-maker’. He’s been a practicing visual artist since 2003. He makes music with Bittereinder, and with his sister in MiNNAAR. Get the picture yet? Many talents. Read on to learn more about him.
To start, tell us more about yourself and your journey so far.
Well, I started freelancing while studying (visual communication) working on design, illustration, animation and video work. I made my first music video while in 2nd year for Yesterday’s Pupil and then my second for Van Coke Kartel in my 3rd. From there on out I was commissioned by a series of cool bands (Aking, Die Heuwels Fantasties, Jack Parow etc etc) for graphics and videos which pretty much takes care of my music graphics portfolio for now. In the meantime I started my own little graphics company in 2010 and have been working on some great projects since. I then joined a production house (whatwewant) as one of their commercials directors in 2012 and have been working with them as a director on some really exciting projects. Other than that I make electronic music as part of the Afrikaans group Bittereinder and along with my super talented sister in MiNNAAR.
What did you want to be growing up?
Initially I wanted to be a Dino-Rider but soon realized that this wasn’t a real occupation. Other than that I wanted to become an architect seeing as both my parents are. I then realized that 90% of the job was shouting at people so I decided to become a full time painter. That didn’t last. So here I am.
Forging a career in a creative field can be challenging. How have you gone about doing this?
Yeah, it has. A lot of people ask me how did I go about making it on my own in this daunting industry. I guess that growing up I saw my dad operating his own business and learned that doing your own thing involves more than the actual job. My father didnt spend his time just drawing houses. Similarly I realized that doing my own thing as a graphic artist is about 40% making pictures and 60% running a business – promoting, managing, producing, administrating etc etc. I learned early on to really manage my time well which allows me to juggle a lot of projects at the same time. Which really counts in my favour.
Illustration, Film making, Animation, Graphic Design, Conceptual Art, Directing…that seems to only scratch the surface of the disciplines you’re skilled in. How do you do it all, and how did you learn to do it all?
Well, as I said – time management. I have taught myself to work quite quickly and efficiently. Other than that I get bored of one thing quite quickly and then like to stop what I am doing and carrying on with something else without losing speed. Keeps it interesting.
Is there anything you plan to add to your repertoire next?
I recently started VJ-ing as part of Bittereinder. Which is real good fun. I am also planning on focusing more attention on theatre work along with my wife (who works in theatre full time) and then getting back to my roots as a painter.
Even though you do a lot of it yourself, you head up ‘Louis Minnaar Creative Visual Design’ which also calls on the skills of other freelancers if need be. What is the benefit of working on projects that are a collaborative effort?
It’s basically the way any other company is structured – I just don’t always sit in the same office as the guys who work with me. What is great about this is that I can get the right person for the job each time and not get stuck working with one set of employees all the time. I get to work with some real talent which is a great privilege.
Could you describe your style, aesthetic or visual signature?
I wish I could. I guess it’s hard describing it if it’s your own work. I would like to believe that I don’t stick to just one signature style but am able to adapt to any brief.
What are you inspired and influenced by?
I get really inspired by nature. I know it sounds real cheesy but I find that when I am in nature – or away from technology and people my mind can relax and forget about the images around me. That is when I get my best ideas – when I am far away from my work and daily environment. Also – taking long drives. When I am on the open roads the ideas seem to find me
Give us some insight regarding your process…
I am a big fan of writing my ideas first. I try to verbalize what I want to do before I start drawing it. Once the words start to make sense they tend to form pictures.
Granted, your days are probably quite varied, but what does your job consist of on a day to day basis?
For the most part I am based in my studio in Pretoria, Hatfield. I do a lot of sitting in front of the computer. Mostly admin.
What do you love the most about what you do?
I love the fact that I can, when I don’t have a pressing deadline, simply take the day off and spend it however I want. Mostly I tend to want to spend time with my wife.
What advice would you give to someone looking to do what you do?
I guess that the biggest thing is that running your own thing is not for everyone. People tend these days to all want to do their own thing because the idea of not having a boss is so appealing. What they don’t often realize is that it isn’t all just sitting down and making cool shit. Running a business isn’t always glamorous and it can be real real stressful creating your own salary. I think there is great value in working for a boss and think that people fresh out of varsity should really consider this major career move (freelance vs. real job) very carefully. If I could do it over I would’ve perhaps worked for someone for a year or two just to learn more. It could’ve saved me a couple of years that I spent trying to figure out all of these things.
When you’re not working, what could we expect to find you doing?
Spending time with my lovely wife, making music and doing all sorts of outdoor activities.
Lastly, tell us what you’re working on at the moment and what your plans are going forward.
I recently completed a music video for MiNNAAR called Shadow of the Earth and will then also be releasing 2 new music videos for Bittereinder very soon. Other than that I am busy with a multitude of other picture-based things.