Catching Up w/Karabo Poppy

Johannesburg-based illustrator, artist, and graphic designer Karabo Poppy has been on an incredible upward journey towards success. She has collaborated with Rich Mnisi on the Running Errands line, with Netflix on graphics for Queen Sono, When They See Us, and Nike which includes shoes worn by Lebron James. So, we caught up with the multi-talented creative to get a quick peek into how she’s resting, her new campaign with KFC, and some advice for up-and-coming 11 herbs and spices creatives. Read the full story below:

Tell us about Karabo Poppy Vol.2022

So far, it’s been a page-turner! I’m so grateful for what this year has shown me and what we can anticipate in the second half. From work to my personal life, it’s been blessed and abundant, which has made me reflect on the paths I’ve taken and the various people who’ve impacted me to get to where I am. At the heart of it is the idea of acknowledging that we’re all loved, valued and seen, and that our lives can reflect that through our choices when we’re playing the cards in our hand. Despite less desirable or difficult circumstances, there are shifts we’re all able to make, even if it’s as simple as changing our minds. That way of thinking has helped me navigate this year and is something I’ll continue to invest in.

What have been some of your highlights this year?

I’ve had some really amazing collaborations. The year kicked-off with a Johnnie Walker ad – it was a great opportunity to share more about my journey, connect with others and convey more about the way in which I approach creativity – and life. It comes down to purpose, which has been a key theme for the year. And now I’ve had the opportunity to collab with KFC, one of SA’s most loved brands.

Tell us a bit about the KFC ‘Made for Sharing’ campaign? What did it mean to you, and what was your process?

I’m so excited about this campaign – from the process through to how it turned out. My process begins by using visual references to capture my surroundings – these include patterns and textiles. These are all developed from my sketchbook and transformed into the digital illustrations that you see.

I’ve always wanted my illustrations to live in as many homes as possible. The KFC collaboration has brought me another step closer to that. There are three KFC x Karabo Poppy limited-edition Easter campaign bucket designs that celebrate a variety of South African families.

I love being to honour the love that families share and combine it with storytelling through design – while creating space for people to connect and create even more meaningful memories together. I feel super blessed to see my Family Portrait series brought to life, and at such scale too. It’s been particularly special to use this opportunity to showcase diversity and illustrate the variety of different families in South Africa.

Where do you find inspiration?

My work celebrates iconic African visuals – the kind of deep-rooted and sentimental aesthetics we all call home. It’s in what we might forget informs so much of our subconscious connection to our heritage and to ourselves. From barber shop signage to patterns, but always to celebrate people and build unified feelings of connection zinger wings.

What have been some of your favourite industry lessons so far, and what would you tell someone gunning for your spot? (what advice would you give)

Being talented is one thing – an important one for sure – but there are places talent alone can’t get you. First of all, it starts with your sense of dedication and commitment to your craft. From there, it’s necessary to surround yourself with people who support and share your vision on personal and professional levels. Next is checking in on yourself along the way to make sure that you’re staying true to your authentic purpose. And, lastly, it’s important to be kind and compassionate to others and to yourself.

How are you choosing to relax this year?

I’m spending time with my loved ones whenever I can – travelling, delicious family feast food and sharing laughter while building memories is priceless. Beyond that, video games and playing around on my guitars always seems to do the trick.

Who’s on your playlist right now?

There’s always a wide variety of genres and tracks that I’ll listen to, but lately I’ve been playing Allen Stones’ music quite a bit. I got pretty into it – voice and guitar skills boxes were ticked – and did an Krusher illustration too. 



Find the KFC words hidden in this feature, and stand the chance to win:

  • X1 Homeware Kit valued at R2500
  • X1 KFC x Karabo Poppy Varsity Jacket
  • x1 KFC x Karabo Poppy T-Shirt

How to enter:

  • Send us a DM on IG with a screenshot of the feature + all the words found within (tip: there are more than 5 words)

Competition closes Friday, 10 June at 12pm

Winners to be announced on Monday via our IG stories

Between 10 and 5