Balancing art & design with Cape Town-based illustrator Stacey Knipe’s portraits

“My love for art started way back in primary school. I was a tiny, introverted nerd who found comfort in art club with my twin sister and our shared best friend of 20 years,” Cape Town-based illustrator Stacey Knipe tells us. “After high school I desperately wanted to go to an art school and pursue a career in Fine Art. Instead, my parents sent me to study Graphic Design at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. It was then I really fell in love with illustration and saw it as a happy medium between art and design.”

Stacey’s portfolio is brimming with realistic portraits. “I sometimes struggle thinking about what to create, but I mostly draw and paint portraits and I really enjoy them. I love all the intricate details, especially hair, eyes and lips! I’m interested in fashion, themes of race, gender identity and expression. I’m also inspired by music; I’ve really enjoyed creating artwork for local musicians. Having worked for years in a music store, alphabetizing CDs, I’ve always dreamed of creating my own album art for musicians,” she shares. 

She describes how she arrived at her considered style: “When I started university I mostly worked by hand and enjoyed learning traditional design techniques such as printmaking and collage. Trying to keep up with my younger peers, I learned to embrace digital art. I find that digital painting is very similar to oil painting and lately I’ve been inspired to start painting in oils again. I also try to draw everyday.”

Her detailed illustrations may look like the product of great planning, but behind them lies a straightforward approach. “My creative process differs depending on what I’m making but I usually start by looking for references, considering different illustrative styles, colour palette and subject matter. Then I’ll draw to loosen up and map out my subject. The best part of the process is not being too rigid, experimenting and ending up with something different than you initially planned,” she explains. Stacey uses a combination of analogue and digital techniques to create her tonal and atmospheric pieces: watercolor, ink and pencil on paper as well as Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Wacom Intuos. 

Check it out below and find more of Stacey’s work on Instagram and Behance

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