Joburg-based digital artist Phila Hillie is a notable creative on the rise – her striking creations landed her a spot on this year’s Young Creators’ Network top 15 list – a platform that aims to upskill the youth and offer them a chance to grow their creative practice.
Using her Instagram page as her canvas, the 23-year-old architecture graduate lets us into her creative mind by showcasing her women-focused artworks; through which she creates a safe space for women to explore themselves without the pressure that society projects on them.
We chat to Hillie about her creative journey, her artistic style and being part of the Young Creators’ Network top 15.
Tell us about the type of work you do; what themes do you explore in your work and where do draw inspiration from?
I started out as a painter but gradually switched to digital and mixed media art. My main theme is the representation of women (particularly women of colour). I wanted to create art that spoke to all the facets of being a woman. I wanted to create art that women could relate to in one way or another.
Another inspiration of mine is heritage/culture and how women navigate their cultures in general. I grew up in Johannesburg, but my family is from the Eastern Cape and they are quite traditional – so growing up and trying to balance being a free and independent spirit whilst also having to follow a patriarchal structure of tradition was something that always confused me. The other major elements are colour and space. I studied architecture and, instinctually, space and composition became a very important element of my work.
Why did you decide to enter the Yogi Sip Young Creator’s Network competition?
I saw the ad for the competition and when a few of my friends started encouraging me to enter the competition, it gave me the reassurance I needed to follow through. I thought it would be a great opportunity to help me grow as an artist and tackle something that I have never done before.
What does being a part of the top 15 mean to you?
Being a part of the top 15 has really validated the journey that I have been on for the past few years. When I first started, there were so many hurdles, unknowns and moments when it seemed like I had bitten off way more than I could chew (there still are) but this made me feel like I am where I need to be and that there is more for me in store.
If you win the competition, what are you hoping to achieve – beyond designing the packaging?
I see this as an opportunity to learn more and thus better my craft whilst working with an incredible brand. Winning this competition would help me with gaining more resources, knowledge, and being able to engage with different people and creatives as I am still new to the industry.
What do you think the role of creatives/artists is in the world right now, and how does your work respond to some of the issues that we are faced with today?
I think the role of creatives/artists is creating a safe space and amplifying voices. People are anxious, angry, and scared and art has the power to validate people’s concerns or create a space for people to escape to. My work focuses on women and the various ways in which they can be represented. I am interested in creating spaces in which women can feel safe and explore themselves without the pressure and standards that society often project on them. I also wanted to remove fear and trauma from our narrative because it is something we know too well.
What can people expect from you in the near future? What are your dreams or goals for your career?
I would love my own studio and to eventually work on projects that make use of art and architecture. I would love to travel more and engage with different creatives and landscapes and I would love to further my studies and skills. The world is currently becoming more and more reliant on the digital and I would love to be able to equip myself with the tools needed to make my work move in that direction.
Check her out on IG.