Featuring sun-drenched colour palettes and strong, proud women, the work of Kgabo Mametja – who also goes by the artist name of Saint Rose – is a joy to observe.
Having self-taught herself the skills needed to excel in the medium of illustration, Kgabo ended up studying visual communication at Vega, the school of brand leadership, before plunging into the world of design. She took on a role in advertising before realising her passion, spurring a leap into the realms of drawing.
"I get my inspiration from everywhere," she tells us. "I'm one of those people whose interests are pretty vast, and different things inspire me at different points in my life." Ideas, for many, can spark from the simplest errand to a conversation – sometimes a shower or a change of scenery. Or, in the case of Kgabo, it could be fellow creatives and makers, particularly those who "push the boundaries of what we've come to expect".
She's also currently watching Rupaul's Drag Race for the first time ("I know I'm a little late"), and she's completely enamoured by the creativity that goes into the show, "from the creative challenges to the Drag Queens' solutions to those challenges. It's so much fun!"
In other news – though still on the topic of inspiration – she recently watched Everything, Everywhere, All At Once just after therapy. "It blew my mind", she adds, pointing out how she's never seen a "multi-verse movie make use of such human elements and emotions; the directors took a risk, broke the rules and conveyed a well-rounded and full story because of it. I love that." And finally, and perhaps more obviously, Kgabo is "constantly" inspired by women: her mum, friends and artists who "endure and flourish" in the everyday, just going about their lives and doing "their thing".
In terms of Kgabo's process, it followed a pretty straightforward path that first begins with an idea or concept. As a trained graphic designer, her background in advertising has taught her a good story is what connects with the audience. A few hours are then spent brainstorming and sketching before she transfers onto Illustrator to iron out the digital versions, figuring out the compositions, colour palettes and style along the way. "This is what I would refer to as the 'messy art board' section of the project, and it goes on for a while," she says. After this, Kgabo moves on to the final artwork and neatens up any loose ends, trimming and editing down anything off-kilter or unbalanced. Kgabo's work has a crisp and clean feel to it, not to mention bright colour palettes and effortless shapes that appear so smooth.
"My work started out as a means of showing that black women aren't a monolith, that we can be messy and imperfect. And, as time went on, I realised that my work is a reflection of my own journey with becoming a woman and finding out who I am and what I like," Kgabo concludes. "I hope that my audience resonates with the beautiful characters that I get to represent – and hopefully inspires a couple of girls to get into this field that so desperately needs them."