On 2 June, Suhana Gordhan and the Duke team hosted the fourth South African Portfolio Night at the agency’s Cape Town office. 40 students from various advertising and creative colleges in Cape Town attended and met with 11 local creative directors and the two stars were announced.
Image courtesy of: South African star Lisa Black
Lisa Black was one of the stars selected for business from the Red and Yellow Creative School. From there, she attends the Virtual All-Star Bootcamp, which offers international creative workshops and the opportunity to learn from other stars from around the world while working on client briefs.
We spoke to her about her work, education and inspiration…
Congratulations on being selected as South Africa’s star player! How do you feel about it?
Thank you so much for your kind words. I am honored to be selected as a star. I am currently looking forward to the great opportunity that is Virtual Bootcamp and feel very privileged to have the experience and contacts from Portfolio Night.
Tell us a little more about yourself?
I have always been passionate about painting and crafting and for the most part this passion has guided me on the path of my life. I chose my high school (Parel Vallei High) for its amazing design department, but to my dismay, I failed my first design brief there.
But, with great diligence, I was awarded the Visser Award for the best design portfolio.
I then took a gap year overseas to decide on my next steps. That year – like every coming-of-age film – I traveled between many places, met many inspiring people, and questioned many things about myself and what I wanted from life.
At the end of this highly-stressful experience, I still felt a strong desire to be creative and a series of decisions I can barely remember making, studying Visual Communication at the Red and Yellow School of Creativity and never been happier. .
Other than that I am a gardener and cat lover. I have also always loved literature and spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in a book and my imagination running wild.
What drew you to research in illustration?
When I started my degree, I planned to major in graphic design, but after the first year, it became clear that illustration was the discipline that appealed to my heart. I can’t describe it better than feeling completely absorbed in the craft and knowing there’s no place I’d rather be behind a sketchbook that has the power to bring everything I want to life.
I also believe that illustration is the perfect tool to communicate with different people in an endless way without any barriers. Learning and teaching are two of my passions, and I can’t help but admire the example as a tool for making these two things more accessible and enjoyable.
What are your plans after graduation?
In the future, I hope to use my craft to reach as many others as possible. It is my aim to never stop improving and I am developing myself into many different areas.
Currently, I publish books because I believe stories have brought people together through history and have the power to educate, entertain, and shape our world.
One of my picture books, Dress like a girlis in the process of publishing a multimedia book titled. Is my queer body not good enough? Pan African writings and works of artEdited by Dr. Laila Qasim. We hope to have this multimedia project available in November. My picture book was a response to the #DressLikeWomen movement in 2017 and commented on politicians trying to control women’s bodies.
Can you tell us more about the work you showed at Portfolio Night? What was your inspiration?
At Portfolio Night, the work I showed was made up of briefs that I felt a personal connection to. I think we create the most powerful work when we can speak from our hearts. I am very passionate about social issues and most of my work is based on my feminist beliefs. I always try to make my work as welcoming and inclusive as possible because I want to be accessible to as many people as possible.
One of my favorite projects I’ve ever done is a picture book about struggling with mental health that follows the brutality of life as a little pocket monster character. The monster will grow or shrink depending on how it is treated, so it will be more or less manageable.
Another is the variety of merchandise following the consumer journey to purchase fresh fish. I grew up on the coast and fishing was part of my family’s livelihood for generations before me, so the ocean has always been close to my heart. The goal of this merchandise was to encourage consumers to buy from small fisheries and educate them on the benefits of supporting local and small fisheries not only to society, but to the well-being of our oceans. The merchandise uses a variety of illustrations inspired by local fishermen from three South African fishing villages. Each one is described using traditional fishing methods specific to that village and the fishing lines create halos on their heads.
What are you hoping to gain from your experience at Virtual Bootcamp?
I think I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to meet like-minded creatives and learn from each other. I am also very excited to have the opportunity to meet creative directors that I would otherwise not have had the opportunity to meet. Portfolio Night was such an incredible experience considering the amazing feedback I received, and I can’t wait to build on that experience at Bootcamp.
You can view Black’s portfolio here.