Chatting with Mies, local designer and illustrator from Jozi.

Mies Jacobs is a professional freelance graphic designer and illustration from, and living in, Johannesburg.

Born in 1981,

Mies spent her first few years in Joburg before moving to, and alternating between, Pretoria and Cape Town with her family. She graduated high school at Pretoria’s Pro Art Alphen Park before studying Visual Communication at the The Open Window Institute. After a few short sprints at various print shops,

Mies started working in the publishing industry doing design and layout for magazines, newspapers, and online platforms. In 2016, after leaving her permanent position, she started her own company, providing freelance design and illustration services to clients both local and abroad. Since 2014, she has been living and working in her native Johannesburg.

1) Can you take us through your creative process before starting a picture?

It can me a while to decide what kind of picture I want to create next. In the beginning it was more about getting in some drawing practice but as I went along, I started putting in more effort. Usually, I wait until something grabs my attention or a random idea pops into my head. I like to alternate between hand-drawn and digital illustrations, so the idea needs to fit the medium. Most times I wait until the weekend, first finding a comfy spot in our apartment, then sharpening all the pencils or getting my tablet ready. I don’t like being interrupted while I’m drawing so my husband knows to keep himself busy until I’m ready to show him my progress or the end result.

2) Where do you find inspiration for the works of art you’ve drawn?

In the beginning I had a thing for Gustav Klimt and how he drew inspiration from Japanese art. I have always had an affinity for anything Japanese or Asian, so this influenced me a lot at the start. From there I tried to change my style to something different every now and again, either black and white or full color. What I choose to draw must fit the medium, so for black and white I try to find things with lots of detail while for full color or digital the focus needs to be striking. For example, my father bought a hand-made wire figure from a street vendor near his home, it was quite unique and beautiful its own way, so I decided to do a black and white pencil drawing of it.

3) Your personal favorite picture and why?

I think my favorite is that drawing I made of the wire figure. It was a very striking figure with lots of detail, lights, and shadows. My father hung the figure on a string, so the photograph I used made it look as if it is floating in the air. Sometimes something just grabs your attention, and it was that way with this wire figure.

4) Top 5 places to visit in Johannesburg?
We are both somewhat homebodies, which made me identify with those memes going around of how the pandemic never really impacted my lifestyle! When we do, or did, go out, it was usually to go see a movie or dine out. I would say my top 5 places include:

• Montecasino
• Aasvoëlkop/Vulture Hill at the Northcliff  Water Tower, it’s a nice little hiking trail with amazing views
• Bootleggers and The Daily at Ferndale on Republic (both offer great vegetarian options)
• Emmarentia Dam / Johannesburg Botanical Gardens
• Yamazaki at Cedar Square (great views and great food 😊)

5) Who would you say inspires you?

There are quite a few artists on Instagram that I follow, their digital work is humbling, to say the least. One of them is @guweiz, the detail and coloring in her work is beautiful. A good reminder to try harder! From the old school, I would say the Ukiyo-e Japanese art style, American illustrator Norman Rockwell and basically all the artists (but especially Miyazaki Hayao) at Studio Ghibli.

Get in contact:
Mies – Insta

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