31 Mar Update: Ninjabreadboy
Ninjabreadboy is an illustrator based in Cape Town, whose line-based illustrations draw influence from the visual aspects of the skateboarding sub-culture, as well as graffiti and tattooing.
Growing up, anything that involved creating something appealed to him and he always knew that he would do something involving drawing in one way or another. “I guess I chose my path at a very young age”, he says, and we’re the better off for it.
Here we catch up with Ninjabreadboy to learn more about his journey so far, and we take a look at some of the amazing work he’s been producing lately.
How did you get into illustration?
Since I learnt to write my name I really liked making marks and creating images. My mother used to paint with oils and she was always trying to get me to draw more and practice. Drawing was something I enjoyed more than most things from very early on.
When did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career as an illustrator?
I think it first hit me in high school. I’ve been skateboarding ever since I can remember and all the skateboard graphics, tattoos, and graffiti that I saw in magazines really appealed to me. When I got to high school I was lucky enough to have Andrew Putter as my design teacher who helped me better what I loved doing and made me realize that I could form a career from what I loved.
Once you made this decision, how did you go about it? Tell us more about your journey so far.
After high school I studied graphic design. In my third year of studying I concentrated mainly on illustration and built up a portfolio that was predominately illustration. I didn’t want to be a graphic designer; I wanted to create new things, not lay out and arrange existing things. When I finished studying I worked as an illustrator, designer and flash animator at a digital agency for 2 years but still did quite a lot of freelance work in the evenings and over weekends. In 2013 I was selected as an emerging creative at the Design Indaba and quit my job shortly after to work fulltime as a freelance illustrator.
What mediums do you work in and with?
Anything. I really like experimenting with different mediums and trying to apply my “style” to whatever I can. My influences and drawing-style lead me to doing hand-poke tattoos about 3 years ago, which in turn has influenced my drawing-style. I think it’s very important to experiment with mediums and techniques in order to grow and develop as a creative.
How would you describe your style or aesthetic? How has this developed over the years?
I see my style of illustration as very line based. I’ve never been that interested in colour, but rather how lines and shapes create tones and textures. I think it all stems from just drawing a lot in my schoolbooks with ballpoint pens and experimenting with different tools, mediums, and techniques over the years.
What are you influenced and inspired by?
I’m very inspired my surroundings and Cape Town in general, I feel that there is so much to offer as inspiration for original content in my close surroundings that I think it’s almost unnecessary to look further and be inspired by international trends or what other illustrators are being inspired by. I’m also still very influence by skateboarding and all the visual aspects thereof, I think I always will be.
What environment do you best create in?
Anywhere, I’m not bothered, as long as I have the tools I need.
Tell us more about your process. Do you have any routines?
I generally sketch out my ideas with pencil. If I’m doing a “standard” illustration I’ll generally do a pencil sketch, then use a Rotring pen or fine liner to ink it up, then scan it and clean it up or vectorize it and colour it digitally. It all depends though on the nature of the job and what’s required.
What value do you place on creating personal work in addition to commissioned projects?
Very important. When I was working at an agency it was really important for me to have personal projects on the side where I had complete creative freedom. This helped me to create a portfolio on the side that consisted solely of the type of work that I really enjoy doing. Because of these personal projects and the portfolio I put together over the years I now get hired to do stuff that I love doing and every project feels like a personal one.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m busy with another T-shirt design at the moment, and I’ve been doing a bunch of hand-pokes lately. I’m also busy with a design for a campervan exterior, and doing an event in early April.
See more by Ninjabreadboy on his newly released website: www.ninjabreadboy.com
Handpainted studio signage for photographer Pieter Hugo
Artworks (“Ma slaan vir Pa wyn”, “Karate Water” and “Blou Trein”) for the Lost/Found group exhibition
Branding for the Durban Art Route
Customized Levi’s Trucker Jacket for the Homeward Bound Exhibiton
2BOP x Ninjabreadboy
An ongoing project “defacing” hi-end fashion advertising in Vogue Magazine using fine-liners and markers