Designer Octavia Roodt: On simple line drawings, graphic novels and complex SA narratives

Twenty-one year old, Pretoria-based artist Octavia Roodt enjoys illustrating story packed scenes in a slew of soft pastel colours. Her ideas come from a few sources like “new cultures, the nude figure and Afrikaans poetry”.

Octavia is in her fourth year of Information Design at the University of Pretoria. Her work varies from individual images to comics and photorealistic paintings. “I started drawing comics about Amazonian women before I was 10. I finally sat down and drew from my own life when I was 12. My yearly sketchbooks tend to be very different from one another. They started with collage work, which turned into a stronger focus on realism, which in turn became a more focused on stylised characters. I am finally in a place now where I think I combine a lot of these influences but I am still far from where I want to be.”

Her detailed works mixes traditional and digital methods. She explains her intuitive approach: “I’ll usually draw a scamp or two just to place the elements before starting. I rely heavily on gestural lines before adding detail, especially when not working from photographs. With line-based drawings the sketch is inked, scanned and digitally coloured in Adobe Photoshop using my trusty Wacom Intuos. Digital paintings are still a bit of a mess and I have yet to find my process. They either start as a pencil or digital sketch.”

Octavia uses her delicate illustrative style to envisage complex narratives. At the moment she is conceptualising a graphic novel of her own illustrated world. “I am trying to improve my skills and get my ideas on paper for something akin to a graphic novel about dying cultures in a fantastical, sinister, sci-fi world. It would require great narrative and visual skill and I am terrified. I am trying to study techniques and the graphic novel masters before I attempt it.”

Her ultimate dream would be to tell a contemporary South African tale through her images. “I imagine it would be wonderful to create thought-provoking and authentic characters that somehow explore ideas South Africans have to grapple with – while also looking super dope.”

For more visual inspiration visit Octavia’s website.

Between 10 and 5