Fresh Meat: Zakiyya Karim

Cape Town-based visual communications graduate, Zakiyya Karim was born in the United Kingdom and relocated to South Africa at 5 years old. After completing high school, she moved to Cape Town to further her studies and seek more opportunities in the Mother City. Eager to dabble in the creative world and pursue a career relating to her interests in visual arts, Karim enrolled at the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business and in 2019, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communications.

During her years as a student, The Red & Yellow graduate worked on a number of projects, one being a campaign for a leading retailer, MR Price called #Girlfluence. The campaign aimed to transform the way society views menstruation-related issues and undo the social stigmas the topic of menstruation is surrounded by.

Karim’s passion and talent have led her to internationally renowned creative agency; Ogilvy Cape Town, where she is currently employed as a junior Art Director.

Can you tell us about your creative background – when and how did it begin?

When I was growing up, we had an old camcorder that interested me more than my toys. At first, I had no idea of how to use it, but I soon figured it out. I watched a lot of YouTube videos which inspired me to create my own home film studio. My favourite Youtube channel was called “Film Riot”, where they would demonstrate camera tricks and hacks. From their amazing tips, I learned about lighting, camera angles, video editing, special effects, sound – the whole shebang. (Although, I must admit that my first few films were definitely cringe-worthy).
When I was in high school, I assisted in establishing the magazine committee. However, the design wasn’t an attractive field at my school so I, having no experience in design, was the only person in the committee – but this did not deter me. This was an incredible opportunity where I started to consider layout, design, typography, and photography. It was an exciting project that I took a little too seriously. I learned Adobe Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator; and I sourced hundreds of magazines that I used for inspiration. It was during this time that I realised my unbound passion for design.

Why was this field of study important for you?

Throughout my high school career, all I wanted to do was study something that bolstered creativity and inspiration. So I researched creative schools and found the Red & Yellow Creative School of Business. It was perfect, as it offered all the subjects that I enjoy! I am grateful for being fortunate enough to afford my education at a private institution. This opportunity made me aware of how exclusive the creative (academic) field is, as such courses are usually offered at private institutions.

When creating work, where do you draw inspiration from? What or who influences it?

My inspiration comes from human behavior, insights, past experiences, and from books (ah, the old established and eloquent art of poetry and prose, filled with wonderful words of wisdom…)  
Please walk us through your creative process.

My process starts with a pen and a big piece of paper – thereafter, I let my imagination run wild. There is no box. There is only limitless space for creation.

What are some of your favourite techniques and tools to use?

I love using humour as a tool for communication. My lecturer, Henriëtte Rademan, would encourage us to have fun when coming up with ideas. This is a technique that I will forever carry out throughout my career. 

Can you share some of the projects you have worked on? Which one was your favourite and why?

My favourite project is a university project I did with my teammate, Samantha Rall, called “#Girlfluence”. The brief was to change the way people think about menstruation issues and undo the social stigmas surrounding them. This project was based on the insight that the shameful stigma around periods is enforced by the sterile-aesthetic of sanitary products. To solve this, we decided to reposition pads as desirable fashion accessories to make girls feel good about themselves and their periods. #Girlfluence is an Instagram campaign to launch the range of the first ever-fashionable sanitary towels in collaboration with the South African retail fashion outlet MRP. 

I am proud of this project because it tackles an issue that I care about deeply. It also was the most challenging project that I had to take on. The most surreal part of this project was the fact that it won a Silver Clio! It is definitely one of my proudest achievements to date. 

What is it that excites you about the South African creative industry? 

It excites me to see how fast and diverse the industry is growing. South Africa is a robust, dynamic and overflowing source of inspiration. To create work that is truly South African is always a unique and eye-opening experience.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

I see myself working at an agency that creates work for social impact. I want to design with purpose. I want to design to change lives and help communities.

Connect with Zakiyya on IG.

Between 10 and 5