Interview with South African Illustrator Bruce Mackay

Interview with South African Illustrator Bruce Mackay

For a long time we have been tracking illustrator Bruce Mackay’s portfolio. Bruce is an avid illustrator working with clients and collaborators from all around the world. We were pleased when we had a chance to catch up with him for a quick interview.

Many thanks for the interview Bruce. Let’s start with a little introduction. Tell us about yourself?

I am a 24 year old graphic designer, illustrator and artist. I live in Cape Town. I graduated as a graphic designer from AAA School of Advertising in 2008. Worked as a motion graphics designer for 8 months and decided that I would rather be a freelance illustrator than anything else, so I quit my job. I share a studio with Paul Senyol and Justin Southey in the Woodstock Industrial Center.

You are an incredible illustrator, how did you get started? When and how did you discover your talent?

I loved drawing when I was in school, but didn’t take art as a subject because my school only catered for landscape oil-painters and other craft-market-arts. After I left school I went to an awful unaccredited advertising “college” for 6 months. I quit that mid-year 2005 and spent the rest of the year teaching myself to paint and draw and working on a portfolio for AAA. I started there the next year, and realized that I was using any excuse to use illustration in my work and finally decided that I wanted to be an illustrator more than a graphic designer. After I left college I realized that I wanted to design typefaces more than illustrate.

Self taught vs design school? Where do you lie in the debate?

I don’t think you can get very far as a designer or illustrator if you are on your own, you need someone with experience for direction and advice. Design school is a good place to learn how to think and work and be exposed to design. I’m not saying the self taught thing is the wrong way to go, but it’s much harder and you could easily miss out on basic knowledge. I think the foundation you get at design school is important. But if you can teach yourself go for it.

You recently released a project entitled “Neighborhood” a project that involves of combination of illustration and typography, could you give us a little background about this project? Could you briefly describe your creative process?

I was commissioned by Clockwork Zoo Production Studio to design the title sequence and identity for a new show for SABC2 called “Neighbourhood”. They wanted the title to be made up of different parts of a South African’s childhood.  I decided to use Illustrator and do something completely different from my usual style (which is usually hand drawn and  textured) for a change. I wanted to do something that resembled those alphabet charts from primary school.

What is your favorite tool for your artwork and why?

I love using dip pens and rough brushes with black ink. When I’m doing vectors I use an entry level Bamboo Tablet.

Where do you seek inspiration? Who would you say are some of the artists in your local community inspire you?

My studio is in the Woodstock Industrial Center, I share it with Paul Senyol and Justin Southey. There are a whole bunch of artists with studios in the building, like Black Koki351073Freddy SamFaith47Jordan MetcalfeAdam HillEmma Cook, Daniel Ting Chong, and One Horse Town. And other guys who aren’t in the building like Michael TymbiosDylan Jones and Bison. It’s great working in an environment like this with brilliant artist that I look up to.

I spend a lot of time on websites like Behance Network and Fecal Face.

Do you think coming from Africa influences your work/creativity? If so how?

Definitely. We have such a diverse culture to draw inspiration from, everyone is affected by everyone else’s culture whether they like it or not. As an African artist/illustrator/designer you have to think beyond your own situation and be aware of and open to other people’s lives, tastes and cultures.

Do you have any advice for upcoming African digital artists?

Set higher standards for yourself than other artists.