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Meet Our Equality Illustrator: Katt Phatlane

It has been a tradition at CreativeMornings to work with an artist in our community to create an illustration for the monthly theme. July is all about Equality.

The illustration is everywhere — in 170+ chapters’ social media channels and at events around the world.

While the artwork speaks for itself, we wanted to get to know the artist on a personal level and introduce them to the creative community. We’re delighted to introduce you to…

Katlego Phatlane (Katt) graduated in 2014 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Brand Communication at the Vega School of Brand Leadership. In the same year, Katt won the global advertising event Portfolionight, as the overall best student in Johannesburg. Katt flew to New York as an All-Star where he represented South Africa at the Art Directors Club. Katt has since joined Promise Agency and has gone on to become the Head of Promise Luxe, wielding his craft as a digital artist, illustrator and designer.

Katt specialises in typography, hand lettering, digital art, retouching, 3D and illustration. His ability to create vibrant, intricate and hyper-realistic visuals have seen him featured across many publications (most notably the May, June and July 2017 Issue of The Art of Photoshop, where he is named in the top 25 artists in the world) and online platforms including ADC Global, LittleBlackBookOnline, Betype, From Up North, Abduzeedo, 10and5 amongst others.


How did you get into illustration work?

Coming from a visual communications background I learnt to experiment a lot. Illustration was a medium to communicate, so I quickly found styles I really liked and have been working on improving ever since.

How would you define ’Equality?’ What does that mean to you?

South Africa has a very violent history, and much of it is because of the Apartheid government. Apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation and discrimination in South Africa between 1948 and 1991. Being born in 1991, I was born into a free country, where I could be afforded the same opportunities as everybody else. So I am someone who views equality from a racial lens, due to the constant reminders of people’s differences. I have embraced and appreciate those who have fought for my freedom and right to express myself.


At what point in your life did you realize that illustration was your calling?

Ever since winning a craft Loerie award for Illustration, and being ranked eighth best illustrator in my country, I started to really focus on the subject.

How has your work evolved over time and what were some influences that caused it?

I have a strong love for typography. The subject of 3D typography has always been something that has captured my mind and I’ve always tried to better my skill in that department. What I love about typography is how many different expressions there can be, that, along with the limitless possibilities 3D brings, I have found that I am constantly experimenting on the subject matter. I can’t even say when I started really loving typography, but my earliest memory was my final college year; I was obsessed with letterforms and nearly all my projects were lettering and typography related.

I have gone from traditional handmade typographic illustrations to full on 3D renders. So the evolution was natural, as I still sketch out most of what I do in 3D.


What advice would you give to fellow illustrators?

There are no limits the pursuit of excellence in your craft. I spend a lot of time sharpening my skill, and the best ideas have come from learning new things.


What’s something about your city that people should know about?

There are many things about my city that I feel people should know. Being called Johannesburg, that’s already a link to Johannesburg in California, which is cool. Being 2000m above sea level, it takes longer to boil an egg here, we are also home to almost half the world’s human ancestor fossils.


Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

I have a metal plate in my skull due to a horrible accident which happened in high school. At that time I was on my way to taking on an architectural career. After the incident I found a strange calling to art, which led me to taking on visual communications, and here we are :).

Discover more of Katt’s work on Behance, Instagram, Twitter, and website.

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