Illustrator Rudi de Wet has collaborated with some décor heavyweights such as MRP Home and Robin Sprong. We chat to him about his studio space and what we can expect from him in the future.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I was born in Johannesburg and I grew up on the Garden Route, in George, where I spent many hours doodling the logos of my favourite bands and surf brands in the back of my school notebooks. After school I spent some time in Holland where I learnt for the first time that design was a viable career and decided then that I wanted to pursue a career in the creative industry. I returned to South Africa to study a BA (Hons) Visual Communication at the University of Stellenbosch. In 2005, my final year of studies, I became one of the founding members of Am I Collective (now called Bewilder), where I worked for a few years and learnt as much as I could from the incredibly talented team. I then had the opportunity to move to Australia, so I packed my bags and went adventuring. After a brief stint in an advertising agency in Brisbane, I settled in Melbourne where I started my own studio in 2008. I moved back to Cape Town in 2012, where I continue to work and play today.
You have quite a collection of memorabilia in your studio, can you tell us a bit about the space and its design elements?
Everything in my studio has some sort of significance and memory attached to it, either a visual one or an emotional one (sometimes both). I’ve surrounded myself with objects that make me happy, inspire me and that I enjoy looking at everyday – from art and prints (both my own and of artists I admire), to books, gifts and items collected from my childhood, my student days and my travels. I’ve set the space up so that it’s completely flexible and easy to work in; it looks good but it’s not a precious space. Almost all the furniture was custom made out of inexpensive materials. At the end of the day it’s a creative work space.
A work space can be a sanctuary, especially when you spend so many hours in the day there. Is there something specific about your space that keeps you inspired?
I love that my studio is a constant in my daily routine. It’s the place where I spend most of my time, so it’s important for me that it’s a comfortable work space where I can escape to and focus on whatever it is I’m working on. I also really love that the studio is located in the centre of town.
How did you start experimenting with surface and textile design?
I’ve always been drawn to abstract shapes and patterns—more specifically how the positive and negative spaces interact within an image. In my mind I’ve always been experimenting with surfaces, be it in print, billboards or surface design. I feel the lines between image making are somewhat blurred.
What is your favourite piece that you’ve created so far?
It’s always hard to pick a favourite. My favourite project is usually the one I’m currently working on until it’s finished, and so on. That said, I am excited about I’ve been making lately — it’s been a fun process exploring pattern, image, colour and text —considering how this could come to life on functional items like apparel and homeware.
You have also collaborated with a few décor heavyweights such as MRP Home and Robin Sprong. Can you tell us a bit about these collaborations and what we can expect from you in the future?
My relationship with MRP started when Yanni Vosloo from MRP Home purchased the I created for the 2015 Design Indaba Expo. This blossomed into my first collaboration with MRP Home, when I was invited to create one of their 2016 limited-edition artist . It was amazing to see my artwork on a functional item—transformed from a digital image into a physical object that keeps people warm.
I met Robin Sprong at a friend’s birthday, where I cheekily asked him if I he’d be interested in collaborating on some wallpapers. Happily he was open to the idea. So I sent over some initial ideas, we discussed them back and forth, and then we decided on five final designs in approximately 4-5 colour ways. It was really great to see this come to life.
And… I also have a collaborative homeware range that will be launching in April 2019. I’m very excited about this, but I can’t say too much about it yet!
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