Featured: Graham Paterson



Cape Town based Illustrator and Graphic Designer Graham Paterson currently works at Digital Agency Visual Architects (now Made) as an Art Director. He shared his work, experiences and inspirations with us:


What did you want to be growing up, and when did you become interested in illustrating and Graphic Design.


When I was still in primary school I used to spend hours playing with Lego trying to invent different robots and machines and my mom mentioned something about going into robotics when I grew up, which stuck with me for a long time. I’ve always been good at art and considered it one of my strengths going to high school. Then, in 2003 I really got into the original Grand Theft Auto game and found a huge online community of modders. You can change anything in GTA1, from the missions, to the maps, to the car sprites, which is what I did. Basically I got a copy of Paint Shop Pro and read a bunch of tutorials trying to design these tiny little cars, I progressed pretty well and eventually moved on to Photoshop. I started playing around with Illustrator at some point, and I was drawn between architecture and graphic design when school was coming to an end. I eventually chose to be a designer.


What was your first job, and how have you grown since?


Since I finished varsity, at the end of 2011, I’ve been working at a small digital agency, which was called Virtual Architects when I started, but has just rebranded to Made. I’ve learnt a lot about what I want to do and where I would like to take my career moving forward, but also gained a better understanding of what I want out of life, which has been enlightening.


Where do you go for inspiration, online and offline?


For online inspiration I have a pretty good collection of RSS feeds which I keep an eye on. I also use Pinterest quite a bit or Niice.co when I’m looking for specific graphic inspiration, I usually try to avoid looking for stuff like “Cat Illustrations” when I’m working on a cat illustration because it tends to seep into your work, whether intentionally or not. For UI design I normally just check out Awwwards.


Offline I’ve got quite a few books and magazines I’ll look at if it fits the project, but generally most of my inspiration comes from online strolls.


Apocalypse Meow Group Exhibition





Describe your signature style, and how it has evolved.


Having a signature style is something that I’ve always struggled with. I like so many different things that I’m always changing things up. To be honest, I’ve never really considered my own style, all I know is that it’s always changing. I don’t think anyone would like at something I’ve done and immediately recognise it as my work.


Where do you work from, and how does this influence your work, style and taste?


I mostly work from the office which is located on the fan walk in town, it’s a really rad environment and nice offices. The work I produce day to day is digitally focused so a lot of web design, UI/UX stuff with the occasional visual identity. I’ve got a lot of freedom to take the work in my own direction and I try to push myself and do something different with each new project. My freelance stuff, which I do from home, is generally illustration based but I haven’t had time to do much of that lately.


What do you love most about your job?


The thing I love most about my job is the sense that I have a say in the direction of the company and everyone there really values what I do. I think it’s too easy to get out of varsity and end up working for some big agency and starting at the bottom with no real passion to make the company great. Sure there’s less prestige and awards (at the moment, but we’re getting there) but it’s easily out weighed by a great company culture.


What has been some of your favourite projects, and why? 


I’ve really enjoyed working on our company rebranding because there aren’t really any guidelines, just freedom to do anything so that’s always fun. The CI of The Odyssey Gastropub on Bree Street was also a really fun one, even though we ended up cutting back on a lot of “out there” ideas, but it was nice working with a lot of hand lettering. The Cape Town Electronic Music Festival website is always a good experience because I get the opportunity to improve on the previous year’s work.


The Odyssey Gastropub







Which local designers, illustrators and creatives do you look up to, and why?


I’ve always been a fan of Skullboy‘s work and his ability to produce such a large body of work while consistently exhibiting and doing other stuff on the side. The same goes for Gerhard Human, who’s work I really like. He’s got such a unique style and his colour combinations are so good. Then there’s all the other local greats: Bruce MacKay, Jordan Metcalf, Kronk, Daniel Ting Chong as well as the guys from One Horse Town and Radio.


What do you do for fun?


Get Hammered. Haha, nah I mostly rock climb or go to the beach, anything to get outdoors really. I’ve been meaning to get back into skating but I feel like that ship may have sailed.


What’s next?


This year I want to produce internationally recognised work. I’m also hoping to do more freelance work so I can start travelling more.



Keep up with Graham on grahampaterson.co.za, Twitter, or check out his Behance profile.


An Illustration for Papercuts exhibition at The Cabinet









Wakaberry In-store Posters







Cape Town