It’s not all that often that we’d have cause to describe someone’s illustrative style as ‘juicy’ or even ‘mouth watering’ but Kayla Schoonraad‘s (who you may know as ‘Diluted Oros’) digital illustrations definitely warrant it. So much so that during her graphic design studies at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, she was told that she was fond of illustrating things that looked lickable. Since graduating she’s been working as a graphic and clothing designer at Head Honcho Clothing.
“I’ve always been considered odd,” she says, “and I guess it’s because I don’t necessarily reflect or represent the stereotype of a person from the Cape Flats. That, and my somewhat unorthodox thinking process.” Kayla is a big fan of good music, fantastic colour combinations, strange and passionate people and perhaps most importantly, Woolies 2 minute curry noodles. “I am also more shy and awkward than I come across in the rest of this interview,” she says. Her work, much like her quirky musings on Twitter, reflect the her bolder side. We get to know more about her below.
How did you become interested in illustration, design and digital art?
It was a gradual process. In a sense I could say it was my mother, though I’m not sure she is aware of it. We moved from Cape Town and lived in Ficksburg, a small town in the Free State, for three years. My mum stayed home for a while so when she was bored she would sketch little posters that we could put up in our rooms, and then I’d try to do my own version of them. I was on my own with my parents most of the time, so apart from reading and playing in the yard, drawing or painting things was all I could do to let my imagination go.
We moved back to Cape Town and I continued drawing but at the time it was random anime and graffiti tags with a ball point pen and highlighters. The first type of digital art I did was adding star shapes and text to images in Photoshop or illustrating number plates in Windows Paint…why I thought it was cool, I can’t remember. I wanted to attend an art school but they are quite pricey so it was public school for me. Fast forward to college it was either photography or graphic design, and with graphic design there was more I could learn in terms of how art or an idea is expressed. It was stressful, made me want to cry, but I was told to keep at it because it wouldn’t be in vain.
What sorts of things could a typical day for you entail?
Catching a taxi outside my parent’s work place down to The Woodstock Exchange. Once at the office, I browse the net for some good music and research trends on various fashion and pop culture stories to help with brainstorming ideas for upcoming clothing ranges. Then, I catch a bus home and usually try to finish an illustration that I might have randomly thought about. I watch cartoons or Cheaters (some pretty intense awkward stuff, most of my late night tweets are quoted from the show) and then I hit the sack.
We’d like to know more about your process. Do you do a fair bit of planning, or do you prefer to work in a way that is more immediate and spontaneous?
Not so much planned, more spontaneous I would say. When I do plan something I rarely like it and it gets scrapped eventually.
What are you influenced and inspired by?
More than anything, music (love you Kanye) and pop culture. I know my work may come across as shallow, like I should try to address social issues more, but world news is depressing and just as when I was seven trying to escape and let my imagination go, I do so with my interpretation with whatever catches my attention at the time – I know it won’t change the world but it helps me cope with the one I’m living in.
The person who inspires me the most would have to be Vashtie Kola, she is such a baddie, doing it for all the tomboys (who wear skirts occasionally) from the hood, and who want to get out and see the world while doing what they love. There are also some folks like Will Prince, Tony Gum, Laura Windvogel aka Lady $kollie, Pola Maneli and Russell Abrahams; who aren’t afraid to express themselves and their individuality through their art, and they do so awesomely. BIG UPS.
What role does music play in your creative process?
It is either the source of an idea for an illustration or the background theme music while generating ideas and/or executing them.
How would you describe your style, and how has this developed since you first started out?
For lack of a better way to put it, a functional mess. In the beginning I tried so hard to do things perfectly that it never even came out well, my former drawing lecturer told me I was too safe and scared to make a mess. I think that’s where my keeping things I do in control trait comes into play, I have learned to let go and be more free with the course my illustrations take. My style switches up a bit since I tend to try my hand at different techniques from time to time. However, I am still a work in progress.
There is something very distinct about your use of colour. What do you attribute this to?
When we were asked to come up with a brand identity for ourselves in college, I had trouble figuring out what I could identify myself and my work with. I was told that I was fond of illustrating things that looked like you could lick them. So I guess my colours come from sweet things or the idea that it could be edible.
What do you enjoy about making illustrated portraits? Is there one that stands out as a personal favourite?
Just having fun and seeing how it turns out since there is no set way that the image could turn out. It’s kinda like a lucky packet – you know you’re getting something, just not entirely sure what. A personal favourite is the one I recently did of Tyler The Creator, his skin is swirly and that shape used frequently happened by accident. I really like the colours I ended up using, they remind me of Speckled Eggs.
What do you find more rewarding: the process of creating, or the final outcome?
A bit of both. When I’m creating I always learn something new that improves my skill which I could apply to the next project. The result is rewarding too, seeing how everything comes together.
What can we expect from you in 2015 and going forward?
More of me trying my hand at clothing design, it’s all so exciting and scary at the same time. More juicy illustrations, just better versions of them, as well as trying to get my hand into doing single art or even album covers for local musicians. Holla if you hear me!