22 Aug Creative Women: Miné Jonker
I first properly met a broken-footed Miné Jonker waiting to disembark a plane after we’d spent approximately 11 hours next to each other not realising that we were seated next to someone we’d talk to over email on the regular. Ah, the internet!
Miné is a brilliant illustrator whose work – personal, produced while at Am I Collective, and as MUTI – we’ve featured numerous times over the years. Miné co-founded illustration and design studio MUTI a few years back with the equally wonderful Clint Campbell and they’ve since grown a team that consistently produces great work and often prompts a “but can we feature them agaaain?” from us whenever we’re notified of a new project of their’s on Behance.
Here, we chat further to this very creative woman (and boxer!) to find out more about running a business and getting hit in the face every morning before hitting the studio.
How did you come to be an illustrator? Please let us know about your creative journey so far.
I’ve always loved art, especially drawing. It was somewhat of a destiny for me to end up spending the bulk of my adult life drawing away. When I was 9 I had to do a speech at school about what I’d like to be when I grew up, and I spoke about becoming an illustrator. I was always writing and illustrating my own stories as a child, which led to lots of arts classes and eventually an education at Pro Arte, a high school which specialized in performing and visual arts. From there I went traveling for a few years, studied Visual Communication, moved to Cape Town, nearly starved doing storyboards, making clothes and children’s book illustrations, and eventually ended up at Am I Collective. After 5 years, and more braaing than any vegetarian can handle, my colleague Clinton Campbell and I braced the great unknown to start Muti. It’s been three years now, and we’ve joined forces with Brad Hodgkiss from Mingo Lamberti. We’re very happy in our studio in a beautiful pink heritage building, overlooking Table Mountain. My backup plan, if a career in art didn’t work out, was always to move to India and become a Bollywood actress.
What’s an average work day like for you?
I get up early to go to boxing and get hit in the face a bit just to be sure I’m awake by the time I hit the office at 9. An average work day involves juggling between illustration, managing projects, dealing with clients and budgets and making sure there’s enough handwash in the office.
What were your motivations behind starting your own business?
I wanted to be able to travel more, work remotely, be more flexible, get more into management and production and, you guessed it, make more money!
What have been some of the challenges and rewards in doing so?
It’s obviously a bit more stressful being responsible for paying salaries and buying handwash. But all in all it’s been a fantastic experience with lots of great people met along the way.
What did you not expect to be doing and what have you learnt in the process?
We’re getting into animation which is really fun and have joined forces with Mingo Lamberti to design T-shirts, limited edition fabrics and design goods. I’ve also become a lot better at table tennis.
How do you go about building a team and cultivating a studio culture?
Firstly it’s about choosing the right people to work with. We all get on very well, and everyone at the studio is very creative and pedantic and funny. We make sure we’re all involved in each other’s projects. Keeping the studio relatively small means that we can all give our 5 cents on everything, which can be really good (and sometimes really annoying.) We also make an effort to all have lunch together once a week, go go-karting, visit wine farms and knock some golf balls around at a driving range every now and again. All of the above involves drinking beer.
What are some of the things that are important to you in your craft?
Originality, thoughtfulness, and craft.
What has shaped your illustration style?
Travelling, fine art, and the illustration work of Shotopop, James Jean, Linsey Levendall and Ree Treweek.
Who are some of the creative women who inspire you?
My mom created five children without missing a beat. And after her live performance in Cape Town, I have a girl crush on the Australian singer/songwriter Sarah Blasko….
What are your favourite kinds of projects to work on?
Anything with lots of creative freedom and enough time for crafting. I particularly like briefs that draw on local culture and imagery.
What are you passionate about?
Ceramics, traveling, interior design, photography, history, my morning coffee and getting our office cat, Church, to love me.
What do you want to be known for?
As Muti, we would like to be known for high end commercial and personal pieces with a high level of craft and professionalism. Personally: for my improv dancing at parties.
Could you let us know about what you’re currently working on?
We’re about to launch our first little animation which has been a side line project for the past few months, a series of etchings, some interesting local beer labels (beer being of obvious importance in our lives), an epic boardgame and some pieces for an exhibition in London.
We’re on the panel of judges for the Posterheroes contest: should be interesting scrutinising someone else’s work for a change!
Photographs by Dearheart Photos, a Cape Town based photographic company specializing in weddings, family, interiors and food. For more information visit: www.dearheartphotos.com