Yogi Sip Young Creators’ Network Top 15: Meet Amy-Leigh Braaf

Amy-Leigh Braaf’s distinctive style has earned her a spot in this year’s Young Creators’ Network. The Johannesburg born creative recently moved back home after living in South Korea for two years, she is currently kicking ass and taking names under the sobriquet ‘Hakopike’.

“I remember Yogi Sip being a huge part of my childhood, lunchtime on the break fields, seeing its vibrant colour pop in my lunchbox, and remembering feeling thrilled that my mom had packed it. If I were chosen to create a design for Yogi Sip it would feel like a full circle. The fact that a captivating design on a bottle that interested me as a child could be the same brand that I design for as an artist in my adulthood would be amazing. That would honestly be one of the most incredible moments of my life – a milestone further showing me that I am meant to be where I am,” she says.

Braaf’s passion for art began when she was four years old. She opens up about her creative journey in our Q&A:

Please tell us about yourself, and your creative background. How did you first start making art? Was your passion for art encouraged and supported?

For most of my life, I was quite focused on academics and worked hard to be granted two scholarships to help my mom financially. When I was in matric, I won a runner up award for the Star Newspaper’s Design-An-Ad competition focusing on Freedom of Press as a topic and was awarded the top design and visual art student – but I still wanted to do well academically to get into the University of Cape Town. Once I enrolled for the film production course, I knew I was on the right track – and that was to pursue my love for art.

Tell us about the type of work you do. What themes do you explore in your work? Where do draw inspiration from?

I have enjoyed working on a gold leaf and acrylic series called ‘Ancient Deities’ focusing on my coloured heritage – studying the culture and fashion from my family’s ancestry in Java, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Currently, my artworks focus on surrealism – I am incredibly inspired by magical realism and this includes the novels written by Haruki Murakami, the costume designs by Eiko Ishioka, films by Park Chan Wook, Wong Kar-Wai and Ana Lily Amirpour, and I often draw from musical influences by artists like FKA Twigs and Mitski. Womxn are often the center of my creations – they are depicted in distorted words often alluding to current events.

What do you think is the role of creatives/artists in the world right now? How does your work respond to some of the issues that we are faced with today?

This has been one of the most surreal eras of the century, not only is the world being challenged ecologically but social issues and injustices are arising and the fight to dismantle oppressive structures has been growing stronger. As an artist, we see things clearly but feel things immensely to the point where social issues can affect us mentally. Our role is simply to empathize. By doing so – our work reflects the pain of those who don’t have the platforms to express their pain – we are vessels – able to spread messages with the help of social media.

What can people expect from you in the near future? What are your dreams/goals for your career?

My next biggest project is with Liza Scholtz – we are creating a book with a working title ‘Moon In Place Of Heart’ – she is writing the poetry and I am creating the illustrations. The book is centered on how we navigate the wilderness of coming home to ourselves and the world that is not seen but felt. Sometimes we miss the mark, and have to take the scenic route – the book focuses on the incredible ways we fall apart and how we return to spinning on our axis again. We hope that this book will encourage people to hold their space and be softer with themselves. I am also working with Hanul Lee on a sci-fi comic book titled ‘Binary Boy’ which has already released three episodes. In addition to that, I interview other artists on my creative magazine www.hakopike.com to help give them a platform to showcase their work.

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