20 Nov Cats, FOMO and Childhood Memories | Illustrations by Stephanie Simpson
Stephanie Simpson grew up colouring in under tables at dinner parties, making her own alphabet with shapes and symbols, playing a solo version of the exquisite corpse’s game, and crafting clothes for her dolls out of toilet paper. Even in high school, on a Friday night you’d most likely find her in her room drawing her favourite bands with koki pens. Now, with a degree in fine art from NMMU and her honours in visual art and illustration from Stellies, Stephanie spends a good part her days making illustrated children’s books and doodling away in studio – drawing creatures,“nanimals”, people, places, things and lots of cats (often in the company of her IRL tabby cat David Mowie).
For her third year project at university Stephanie made 30 little hand-sewn creatures called Nanimals. Each had its own scientific name and story of existence, and hailed from the imaginary world of Nastraliam. This is where her alter ego Norman Nanimal is from – he’s the Norman in ‘Me and Norman’, the name of her illustration brand.
Stephanie’s pieces go from loose watercolours to scribbly line drawings. “My brain and my hand work differently on different days. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I just feel like making a mess with ink. I’m quite an impatient and messy person, so I have to make a couple of mistakes before I decide to stick with a style,” she says. This year she’s been developing her voice in colour, with plans to make a book about childhood memories; the sorts of things you believed were true as a kid but sound ridiculous in retrospection.
What sparks her creativity, day after day? “Fear is a great inspiration for me,” says Stephanie. “If I don’t do, then I don’t get anything done, then I fall behind, then I feel left behind. So I just sit at that desk and do and get it done.”