Our Women’s Month Cover Star, Illustrator, graphic designer and street artist Karabo Poppy Moletsane chats taking Africa to the world, approach to impact and shares her message for Women’s Month.
Karabo Poppy notes that as the world continues to shift, the role of art is to start conversations that were previously harder to initiate. “I’ve used street art to do that. I think there’s power in having that message stay with someone. From my perspective, the role of art is sparking a different way of thinking and making it as visible as possible, so that it’s hard to ignore and, hopefully, starts to change mindsets.”
I ask her to let us in on her creative process, and she says she begins by using visual references to capture her surroundings. “These include patterns and textiles developed from my sketchbook and transformed into digital illustrations.” One word that aptly describes her work is impactful, and she says that’s the part she appreciates most. “Being a creative is a vessel to add the good that can sometimes feel like it’s missing from the world. It’s a small way of reflecting back to people that we’re all valued, seen and matter – even when we don’t think we do.”
She’s cognizant of this pandemic’s global impact. Her take on being a creative in 2022 is that, as Africans, we’re in a unique position. “Our continent has extremely creative people with a wealth of knowledge, and what the world needs now more than ever is to connect and heal. Creativity has a way of doing that. There’s something about art, and the arts in general, that has the power to bring people joy, peace and create spaces for love. Being an African creative in 2022 means we’ve got even more room to do what we do best.”
She achieved so much at such a young age and attributes her success to her parents and family. “I doubt I’d be the person I am today without them. On a professional level, I’m always inspired by other creatives – not only visual but musicians, designers, and more. In general, people inspire me, particularly Africans.” As does the realisation that talent alone isn’t enough. “I’m dedicated to what I do, and I’ve surrounded myself with people who share my vision, personally and professionally. Beyond that, I keep going, try not to linger or dwell on things I can’t change and stay dedicated to my growth.”
Her advice to women who’d like to pursue a career in the arts? “Go for it! Create the spaces you want to be in and tell the stories you feel are unheard – the world needs more of that. Don’t let fear stop you, whether of failure or worrying about whether things will work out. Hold onto what you believe is your purpose and use that to guide you. Beyond creating, focus on the business aspect of your career, as the two go hand-in-hand. Lastly, take things one step at a time. You don’t need to have it all figured out in one go, but you do need to start.”