Nicole du Plessis, based in Western Cape,  isn’t a stranger to us, she has a profile on and does great work for Blackbird design. You could not say she is just a designer she really knows how to handle herself through Photography too. Design isn’t just a job for her, it’s who she is! Read on to find out more about this creative artist.







Who, to you, is Nicole du Plessis?

I am ultimately a lover of all things art and aesthetic, but hold a special place in my heart for Graphic Design and Photography above all else. I spent three years in an art school doing everything from sculpture, oil painting, drawing and graphic design to photography (both Darkroom and Digital) and using mediums like gouache, oil pastels, charcoal, etc. As much as I love the fine art greats and admire their work, (and constantly look to them for inspiration) I never had an interest to become a fine artist myself, focusing more on graphic design and photography.

Design isn’t just a job or a qualification for me, it really is essentially who I am. It involves looking at the world through a different light, it requires imagination and perception. I design for most of my waking hours, if not, then I am thinking about design, planning a design, or looking at other peoples designs in awe… and then at night I dream about design too.

Describe your style and technique to us.

I’ve been told that a lot of my work has a fine art feel to it. For me it’s a combination of fine art elements (I’m pretty much obsessed with textures) and then putting my ideas down in Photoshop and Illustrator. I take so much inspiration from the Swiss Style movement too, even though my work wouldn’t be considered purist, there is definitely an impact to some degree in my work.


International Typographic Style, also known as Swiss Style is a form of graphic design style that originated in the fifties. The focus within the movement is on cleanliness, simplicity and readability. Many of your works show influences of Swiss Style. What is it about the style that you find appealing?

I really feel like these are the designers in our history that really had it all figured out. At least to my personal standards of aesthetic appeal, it really doesn’t get better than a design that is to the point, legible, direct without being in-your-face, minimal and visually appealing.

They would never decorate just for decorating sake. The prime focus is on getting that visual message across as strongly as possible and leaving an impact in a clear-cut, concise way. This is and always will be the very crux of Graphic Design. This focus so easily gets lost these days, which is why I am always looking back to the history of the movement, to remind me of the purpose.

You reference Armin Hofmann as an example of a designer whose work influences you. Are there other artists who inspire you?

The list is endless. I am constantly on websites like Abduzeedo, Behance, Visualize, etc. looking at the work and getting inspired and seeing what is happening out there in the big bad world. It’s insane the amount of talent out there, it really is a never ending brightly lit tunnel of inspiration and enjoyment. To name a quick three:  Jan Tschichold, Milton Glaser and Josef Müller-Brockmann.


You’ve stated that design doesn’t always have to be frivolous, commercial and soulless. Is there a message behind your work?

Most people tend to associate Graphic Design with Shampoo Bottles and Headache Pills in the aisles of the local Spar. It’s a necessary part of design and every designer will at some point have to create a cereal box or a label for canned Sardines. But ultimately graphic design is just so, so much more than that. It’s not all business cards and letterheads. Some of my work could be defined as frivolous, though a lot of it also contains intense thought processes and emotion too. There is a place and a time.

What is the process behind one of your creations?

Generally, I don’t like designing if I don’t specifically feel inspired to do so. Why would anyone else want to look at something that I don’t? I use a computer primarily, my camera and sometimes a scanner too. I always have both Photoshop and Illustrator open at the same time and am constantly dragging/dropping things from one to the other. I tend to do vectors, customize type, build up shapes etc in Illustrator and then pull everything together as a final piece in Photoshop.

Your work showcases the talents of a photographer as well as a graphic designer. Do you feel a particular affinity to either one art form?

My first love will always be Graphic Design, but Photography does come in at a very reasonable second place. The two also often intertwine for me and I have fun trying to blur that line. I feel an affinity to all art forms though, and then all sub-genres within those art forms. I appreciate aesthetics altogether.


How long have you being using graphic design as a medium for artistic expression?

I was messing around with Photoshop 3.0 already when I was about 8. Just playing around and having fun with it. From the age of about 13 is when the interest in “making pretty pictures” really started to grow (I’m 23 now.) Back then I didn’t know what Graphic Design was or that you could actually do what you love and make money with it. My interest in photography came from my Dad, he owned the first Pentax I ever saw (which I later used for Darkroom training.) He would take surfing photographs at places we’d stay around the coast and I just had to pick up a camera and learn more.

Do you have any favourite works?

I love Armin Hofmann’s Basel Theatre posters, ‘Companions of Fear’ by Rene Magritte, ‘On White’ by Wassily Kandinsky, Pieter Hugo’s photographic series “The Hyena & Other Men,” Shepard Fairey’s ‘Animal Farm’ book cover, Jan Tschichold’s Penguin book covers and Picasso’s ‘Guernica’ to name a few in a very long list.

It’s clear that graphic design is something you’re immensely passionate about. What would you say to someone who has very little interest in it as an art form?

If you really take a good look around you, you’d be hard pressed finding much that doesn’t to some degree involve graphic design. From every bit of text you see, (even the most mundane paragraphs of medical compositions,) to the logo on your jeans, the packaging EVERYTHING comes in, the poster on your bedroom wall, the magazine you’re reading, a stop sign down the street, the exam you need to write, the website you’re always on and the menu you’re ordering off. It’s important in our society to convey messages visually, graphic design goes even beyond being just an art form, it’s a practicality and necessity in our society.

What next do you have planned?

I am currently doing freelance work (e-mail me!) and designing as much as I possibly can to keep my portfolio sizable, growing and updated at all times.