Thandiwe Tshabalala is a South African illustrator whose claim to fame has come in the form of some cutting-edge GIF illustrations. Her GIFS, such as The ABCs of Xhosa Names Series, have been featured on popular continental blogs such as Dynamic Africa. A graphic designer who explores the meaning and heritage behind Xhosa names, her work has been showcased in the 2010 Design Superstar Indaba Awards. (Check out her blog for more of her work).
A former student of Visual Communications at the Red and Yellow School of Logic and Magic in Cape Town, Tshabalala remembers that she grew up doodling and drawing on walls at home. “People said that one day my work would end up in an art gallery,it was some sort of a compliment.” Art is important to Tshablalala, and the stereotype that black people ‘don’t do fine arts’ is what drove her to become a graphic designer: “I chose graphic design because I did not want my work to end up in a confined space, exclusive to a select or privileged few.”
“My lecturer once said to me: “Communicate don’t Decorate”. That’s my motto as a creative.” Tshabalala see’s graphic design simply as a means of communication through visuals. “In a country that still feels like an adjusting toddler, I feel like we need to redefine what it means to be a Black South African”. “And to add, in a country faced with so many problems, such as preserving our indigenous languages, creatives can do so much to make an impactful change through the expression of their art.” That was the powerful and neatly drawn conclusion by Tshabalala who adds before she signs off: “by the way, my favorite illustrator is Sindiso Nyoni.”
Watch Thandi and other creatives here: VIDEO: Design Indaba Superstars
So, what’s a GIF? Allow illustrator and graphic designer, Thandiwe Tshabala, to explain:
GIF stands for: Graphics Interchange Format. Thandiwe says that “GIFs are basically moving images.” A GIF file can be a silent video clip from a movie, television show, music video, or animation that someone has made. In keeping to her own style, Thandiwe usually plays with illustrated typography to create GIFs.
There are a huge variety of GIFs to be found on the internet, Thandiwe’s favourites are ‘reaction GIFs’ which are used to respond back to certain posts. She continues, “sometimes words can’t fully express ones feelings, so that’s when you send them something like theis Reaction GIFs ‘No No No’“.
More work by the artist: