Update: Thomas Pepler

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Thomas Pepler is a graphic designer living in Cape Town. For the past three years he has been working at Monday Design, where he creates identities and builds brands for local businesses. He also takes film photographs of the things he sees day to day; a collection of which are archived on his blog: My Lucky Undies Are Red.


Thomas’ interest in photography started when he was a teenager. “I was into bodyboarding and reading surf magazines and really looked up to the older guys in the water, some of whom would take photographs,” he explains. “My interest in music and watching live shows also led to me shooting some local bands. My dad gave me his old film camera when I was 18, and then at Stellenbosch Academy I had the opportunity to develop my own film and print my own photos.”


When the time came for Thomas to make a conscious choice between photography and design, he chose to major in design. “I knew it would give me more opportunities,” he says. “I also knew that if I did specialize in photography, I would lose my love for shooting what I wanted when I wanted to.” As Thomas’ photographs so clearly reflect, he is still shooting for the joy of it and his pictures – intimate, honest – give us a glimpse of life as he sees it.


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Alongside his photographs, Thomas shares on his blog some of his ongoing experiments merging photography and design. “Photography and design have always gone well together”, says Thomas. “They are my two top passions and merging them was second nature to me. I started mixing the two mediums when I started experimenting with both in college, it became my design style throughout my studies and it worked for me. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed combining the two and exploring different ways of doing so.”


In terms of both photography and design, Thomas believes that simplicity is key. “With design, it starts with pen and paper. I’ll draw out my ideas and then move into Illustrator where I’ll play and craft it until it’s perfect,” he says of his approach. “When it comes to taking photographs, there’s an element of surprise and spontaneity within a scene that catches my eye and I immediately snap it, while making sure every element in the frame is perfect. Because it’s film, you can’t just shoot picture after picture. The first shot has to be the right one. So I guess they are similar in that sense – they are planned out to a certain extent, although one more so than the other.”


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“I think because of design, my photographic style has developed into what it is now,” says Thomas, who, when it comes to subject matter, tends to focus more on symmetry and the simplistic graphic elements that he sees around him. Explaining further, he says: “I guess if you had to take a look at my photos you would see how design started to influence the way I would see things through the lens.” Even more significantly, Thomas’ photography is influenced by life experiences, and he associates his work with the overarching themes of nostalgia, wonder, bliss, honesty and love.


The constant creativity, paired with the freedom to grow exactly where he wants to be in this point of his career, are two of the things that Thomas loves most about what he does. “I’m fortunate to say that it doesn’t feel like a job, and I love that I am able to do it as a living. I’m very lucky to be in a position where I’m able to push my creativity and design skill.”


Looking ahead Thomas plans to keep doing what he does best – to let it take hold of him and allow it to take him places. “I also want to travel as much as possible,” he adds, “to not take life too seriously, and to enjoy the ride!”




Selected photographs:


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Thomas Pepler 11 (1)

Thomas Pepler 11 (2)

Thomas Pepler 11 (3)

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Some of Thomas’ graphic design work:


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Between 10 and 5