We’ve had our eye on the talented young Cape Town illustrator Katrin Coetzer for quite a while (She’s had the office talking on countless occasions with her intricate and detailed drawings, as seen in our latest Spring Issue). Having just returned from summer school in Helsinki, Katrin has a jam-packed schedule ahead of her, balancing a postgrad in Illustration at Stellenbosch University with an upcoming solo show and illustrations for a children’s book. ‘As a kid I decided my future lies either in book illustration or game ranging. Pen and ink triumphed, but I get to draw a lot of animals!’, says Katrin. We ask her about her work, animals, and a few other things too…

What do you love drawing most? Jungles, trees, gardens, urban spaces and swimmers seem to be recurring themes in my work. I like lawns and swimming pools for their symbolic excess and I enjoy investigating the boundaries and overlaps between nature and man-made. Animals trump everything though when it comes to subject matter, they’re such fun vehicles for expressing emotion and movement.

So if you were an animal, what would you be? An otter.

If your mind were a place, what would it look like? A rogue botanist’s greenhouse.

Whose work do you admire? My favourite recent internet finds are Jilian Tamaki and Laura Carlin for their amazing drawing skill. Illustrators Janosch, Saul Steinberg, and Edward Gorey are old favourites for their wit and humour. I admire and am inspired by Michael Taylor, Titus Matiyane and Elsabe Milandri particularly for their sense of effortlessness.

Who’s doing exciting illustration work in SA right now? Karlien de Villiers’ graphic novels; Alex Latimer’s new children’s book The Boy Who Cried Ninja; Xanele Puren’s painted crèches in association with A Word of Art.

What story would you most love to illustrate? Katherine Mansfield’s short story, The Garden Party – I’d like to attempt adult fiction and this one has some complex, wriggly themes. And for some time I’ve wanted to illustrate the old Cape legend of Van Hunks and the Devil – I was obsessed with this story as a kid growing up in Rondebosch, with Devil’s Peak as a backdrop.

What references do you use when drawing? My own photographs and 30+ year old National Geographic magazines.

Where do you find inspiration? Conversation, literature, vegetation, illustrated non-fiction, typography on buildings. I find urban environments very inspiring, especially African cities.

What do you collect? Lion insignias/motifs, old southern African resort postcards, forgotten bookmarks, city illustrations, green dresses, pressed yellow leaves, printed textiles, books – sometimes for content but more often for cover art.

What’s your favourite place to be? On our farm in Botswana, on the banks of the Limpopo river.

Keep an eye out for Katrin’s upcoming exhibition at Salon91. (We’ll keep you posted!) See Tafelberg‘s A Wish This Big, Katrin’s first published illustration book. Also visit her website www.katrin.co.za and her fantastic blog babanangu.blogspot.com