Read the right magazines, consume the right products, take note of TV adverts, participate in this culture, be yourself, be happy. Jon Monsoon discovers that Johdel is artspeak for ‘happy and illuminated illustrator’.

Joh…Del. His work is truly everywhere – if you are aware in the right places. The 26-year old illustrator/designer from Jhb/Pta has contributed his signature illustration style to the pages and front covers of SL magazine, Stage mag (when it was still cool) and to campaigns for bigger profile campaigns like Cell C’s recent red Hola 7 prepaid and 5FM music radio’s Youngblood. You would mention his name (at all the right parties, of course) in the same sentence as you would mention other South African beacons of artful design; Love and Hate, Humanoid, Bitterkomix, Kidu, Mark Kannemeyer, Rui Tendreiro, Johnny Kotze, Steak, Ree Treweek, Warren Van Rensburg, Crispian Plunkett and them; the ‘it’ people of South African underground creativity circa 2007. Point is – when it comes to the new skool minds of SA graphic design – Johdel (Johan de Lange to his mum), is doing big things for advancing SA design and that makes him…happy.

Jon Monsoon: ‘What is the first thought you have, upon waking / entering the conscious realm every day?’
Johdel: ‘Ah, that feels nice…’

Johdel is a genuinely happy guy. He is happy to be alive, happy to be kept busy, happy to be creating happy characters, happy to think his work makes others happy. ‘My work is usually quite colourful and positive.

My characters are all flawed and unique, and sometimes a bit awkward, but they are mostly smiling and happy to be themselves.’ Just like their creator.

‘I started drawing when I was young,’ he tells. ‘If I didn’t have a specific toy that I wanted I would simply draw it for myself, and that gave me the same fascinating feeling as I’d imagine playing with it would have. Drawing became something that I just loved.’ And his love affair with the medium continues, whereas he can now maybe afford his own toys, he still enjoys the whole process of making the stuff, ‘and when other people also enjoy it, then it’s really cool,’ he explains smilingly.

Johdel is also inspired by almost everything he sees on a daily basis. ‘I’m inspired by Dr. Seuss, Studio Ghibli, 80’s and 90’s PC games, illustrated children’s books, graffiti, psychedelic hippie posters, fantasy art and the whole ‘vinyl will kill’ scene. I like going into nature and travelling, and I really like the feeling of happiness and feeling good.’ He is that happy! ‘I don’t have too many crazy techniques to force myself into inspiration, except for drinking coffee, playing music and moving around my studio like a leopard.’

Read the rest of issue 08

Read the rest of issue 08: Part2

Click here to view our #flashBack selection for September.