“I’ve always been curious, inquisitive and playful. That’s why I created my illustration studio, Yay Abe, and took my artistic style to the street. I want to make my mark by pushing the boundaries of contemporary South African illustration and street art,” says Cape Town-based illustrator, graphic designer and street artist, Russell Abrahams.
This creative talent was born and bred in Cape Town. A graphic design graduate from CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology) and a participant in the 2014 Design Indaba Emerging Creatives Programme, Abrahams is intent on conveying narratives and messages through his illustrations and street art. His work is inspired by a melange of local people and cultures, characterised by bold colour, a unique graphic style and playful nature.
“My illustrations are bold and graphic,” he explains. “I’m known to work in a very local style with vibrant colours. It stems from the society in which I live. I like for my artwork to reflect my surroundings and the pulse of our nation. There are so many interesting vibrant stories – narratives with depth - to portray!
“It’s crucial to work from a strong concept point and to continuously reference the idea or story while creating an illustration. The power to create complex images using minimal amounts of geographic shapes makes me very excited.
“I do believe that what makes my work unique is my ability to create various styles while maintaining my visual language throughout. I strive for this consistency when illustrating.
Abrahams says he usually starts sketching with pencil on paper. “I think this is a very important part of the process as I fell it always leads to a more organic, natural final result. Once the sketch is complete, I redraw it digitally. While working, there’s always music blasting in the studio to keep me upbeat, happy and moving.
“I established my illustration studio to help provide young artists a leg up in the industry. I’m passionate about mentorship and creating new platforms of expression. I believe that together we can uplift communities and heal the hood with colour.
“This is my story, let me tell yours.”