Force is Karabo Poppy

"Hair has been a long-standing signature of youth culture"
- Karabo Poppy

With one more day to go before the launch of her our collection with award winning illustrator, designer and street artist, Karabo Poppy, we took some time to catch-up with the creative who's work celebrates the stories of everyday South Africans. Check out the interview below:

SL: Tell us what you do?

KP: I am a Johannesburg based illustrator, graphic designer and street artist.  I am passionate about preserving the African Aesthetic through contemporary illustration/ design an street art.  What that means is taking this uniques aesthetic that I believe Africa has and celebrating it authentically using my art.   

Karabo Poppy x Sneaker LAB

SL: What's the inspiration behind your unique creative aesthetic?

KP: The inspiration behind my creative aesthetic is the African continent.  I am drawn to our diversity, our cultural exchange and constant innovativeness. Although being a millennial I cannot ignore the influence that Western culture has had on Africa so my aesthetic is a hybrid aesthetic that combines an African aesthetic with non-African influences.  Although | aways make it a point to portray an African narrative in the forefront.  Which is why I resonate so much with the Afrofuturist movement.  It acknowledges Western influences like science fiction but places an African narrative in the forefront.

Karabo Poppy x Sneaker LAB

SL: Whats your collab with Sneaker LAB about? 

KP: Celebrating culture, sneaker culture, youth culture as well as hair culture in Africa.

SL: What's your inspiration behind Moriri Waka?

KP: "Moriri Waka" is SeSotho for “my hair”.  Growing up, hair was an extremely important part in my family.  Whether it would be for special occasions of even everyday going to school - your hair was your crown.  My regular trips to the hair salon exposed me to a creative aesthetic I still reference to this day and this is the traditional barbershop hand painted signage with the quirky use of colour, bold typography and and iconic side profile images of people and with the hair styles you can get in the salon.  This was my earliest memory of art, the signage and the hair styles created.  Moriri Waka is a concept that celebrates the beauty and ingenuity of hair in Africa and pays homage to all that influence my illustration style today.

Karabo Poppy x Sneaker LAB

SL: What do love most about creating?

KP: What I love most about creating is that I get to represent the unrepresented.  I get to portray parts of contemporary Africa in my art and in media.  Parts of Africa that weren’t commonly seen in media till recently.  I get to honour everyday South Africans, our language and unique aesthetic using illustration. And hopefully adding to showing the world a new aesthetic voice that is emerging from Africa.  Specifically with being a black female artist in Africa, I feel privileged to be part of a movement that is growing and I believe is going to change the world’s perspective on Africa. 

Karabo Poppy x Sneaker LAB

SL: Why an illustrator?

KP: Well, growing up I can see how I’ve alway been drawn to doing the unconventional.  I went from wanting to be a WWF (now called WWE) wrestler, to wanting to be a reconstructive surgeon to then becoming an illustrator. I studied graphic design and illustration but only knew for sure that I wanted to be an illustrator and graphic designer at the age of 21. I then began a street art journey at the age of 23 when I was inspired to make my art more accessible to more South Africans - having my illustrations and designs not only exist digitally or on print. And I believe that what keeps me creating daily is the fact that my career as an llustrator, graphic designer and street artist allows me to keep doing the unconventional and experimental with very few restrictions where I would feel more restricted in any other career.  I’ve always wanted to leave a legacy the same way.

We'll be celebrating the launch of the 'Moriri Waka' capsule on the 7th June at our Braamfontein store. The collection drops in limited numbers on the 8th June and you'll be able to cop the items on our online store. Stay locked to the blog and Instagram for updates and coverage of the event.

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