Five of our favourite female illustrators on their essential design tools

We invite five fierce graphic artists to share with us a compilation of the resources that enable them to get through their work days with ease. Well it’s not the tools that make each artist, but a well stocked artillery of awesome applications can certainly help each of them to create their illustrations. 

We talk to Xia Carstens, Sinomonde Ngwane, Tyla Mason, Hannah Shone and Karabo Moletsane.

“I try get new inspiration every day to evolve and keep wanting to create and draw new things. My days feature lots of mint or acai berry tea, lots of drooling over amazing illustrators all over the world’s incredible work, and staying true to my own roots. I love my Wacom tablet more than any pizza or chocolate in the world (and that’s a pretty bold statement). I believe people should never stop growing and evolving and it’s important to pick yourself up every time you fall or stagnate for a while. It’s all part of the journey and to getting where you want to be one day. I also always try remember that we are made of stardust and will eventually just become star dust matter again, so while we’re in this form, why not try create beauty and spread love?” – Xia

“The items I have chosen to illustrate are the things that I cannot live without. My MacBook is where I keep all my work, access the internet, seek inspiration and have my software to illustrate with. The second items are my pencils and pencils. My style of illustration relies on hand-drawn elements at all times so the beginning stages always involve a pen, paper and eraser which I then scan into Photoshop to colour. The sketchpad is where I write my thoughts and just let everything out of my head, generate ideas and get a visual feel of what I plan to do. To stay concentrated at night I heavily rely on my strong black tea made with two tea bags and lots of sugar. My earphones keep my momentum – the music keeps me creative and my brain active.” – Sinomonde 

“Podcasts for keeping me company, telling me stories and making me feel extra productive. I am never not listening to podcasts while working. Three of my favourites are Call Your Girlfriend, Serial and Reply All. A notebook for recording any important thoughts, ideas and advice for my future self, et cetera. A Wacom tablet for drawing; my most favourite birthday present I have ever been given. The cat from downstairs will visit me at least once during the course of the day. She has a thing for sleeping on my laptop when I am at my busiest. She’s good for looking cute and lowering my stress levels. A sketchpad and Aquash water brush for doodling or hand-drawn work. A friend of mine showed me a trick to using an Aquash brush, not in the recommended way (with water), but by filling it up with diluted ink instead. The brush tip has so much variance, it’s inexpensive and it lasts forever. Plants for oxygen, I guess (I read that millennials are obsessed with houseplants). Coffee: a time stamp that the day has started. I have a single issue of Wrap magazine (a magazine that celebrates contemporary illustration). They work with one theme per issue and get five illustrators to create artworks (and wrapping paper) based on the chosen theme. I like to flip through it if I am feeling uninspired. The cover artwork is by the hugely talented Jean Jullien, and sometimes just looking at that is enough for me!” – Tyla 

“An average work day starts with me eating a bowl of cereal (often at my desk because I’ve likely slept in a little longer than I should have), while simultaneously listening to my favourite podcast, My Brother, My Brother, And Me. I guess at this point I open up my laptop and do my routine email, Facebook and Twitter checkups before getting out my visual diary and sketching out what I need to get done for the day. That process moves onto my Post-Its, where I’ll write down said tasks and put them up on the wall behind me – it’s a great feeling taking things off the wall and watching my To Do list slowly disappear. I don’t always use my Wacom tablet, but I do bring it to work with me every day. I feel really anxious on days I forget it at home. Something I always have at my desk is hand cream; happy hands make for happy work. I’m really into my Jasmine tea these days, so I keep a honey pot with bags inside and make between two and three mugs of this tea a day. Lastly, my spectacles. Because I can barely see without them.” –  Hannah
“My tools around being an illustrator, graphic designer and street artist are: a Wacom Tablet and iMac, Wacom pen, pens, pencils, erasers, spray cans and Moleskine. A torch, for my all nighter days. Beyonce albums for the best work music. A guitar, which is a part of my productive procrastination. A Sprayground backpack, which is the best for storing all my things.  Air Max 1 sneakers because I need to be wearing a good pair of sneakers to start my day. A book: ‘Sharp Sharp’ by Ed Suter, which is a great representation of South African street style. Lastly, Patterns application on MAC, as all of my illustrations focus on an African aesthetic.” – Karabo

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