Jaco Haasbroek interview

In this post we have the great pleasure of welcoming one of our all-time favourite illustrators to take a seat in our interview chair and share their thoughts & observations with us. Here’s an illustrator whose work is much sought after by discerning clients – and has earned the admiration of design and illustration fans across the globe for distinctive style that’s all his own. Yes folks, in the spotlight today is none less than the legendary Jaco Haasbroek!   Jaco Haasbroek interview     SL: Tell us who you are, where you’re from, whether you studied illustration, and if so, where.   JH: Hello, my name is Jaco Haasbroek. I was born in Pretoria, grew up in Johannesburg, studied Fine Arts in Stellenbosch and am now working as a freelance Illustrator and Designer in Cape Town.   SL: Your style is quite simple, yet clever and you make use of simple everyday phrases that have been converted into great – and funny – illustrations. Where do you get your inspiration from?

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JH: It’s quite difficult knowing where ideas come from, or when inspiration will strike. I feel you have to be open to new things. I like making observations, looking for connections and changing my perspective to try and fuel new ideas. If you don’t keep exploring you might find yourself running on empty. Sometimes inspiration strikes when you least expect it, and comes from an unlikely source. It can take on many forms, and you have to put yourself out there and allow it to find you. For me just thinking about things or simply talking about a variety of subjects can somehow be enough.

  Jaco Haasbroek interview

  SL: Your Z-A series of alphabet characters rocks! What’s your process for creating this kind of illustration, and are there mediums that you prefer above others?   JH: Thank you. The process for creating most of my illustrations is as follows. Have an idea. Write it down, or make a very basic sketch in my notebook. The first step towards creating the final artwork would be a pencil sketch on paper. I will then either ink it straight on the page, or digitally in Photoshop using a drawing tablet. I prefer using Illustrator for tracing and colouring. Sometimes the idea lends itself better to being drawn in vector format from the start. Despite the fact that most of my work end up as files on my computer, I still get the most enjoyment out of making art away from the screen.

    Jaco Haasbroek interview

  SL: As a freelancer you’ve had loads of t-shirts up on Threadless, and done quite a bit of logo work for some nice clients – do you prefer the freedom of working as a freelance illustrator, or have you considered working for an agency?

JH: I spent two and a half years working at an ad agency before going freelance. I learned a lot in that time and it gave me a chance to develop my approach towards creative work. It taught me to think more conceptually by trying to solve problems. A lot of time was spent on work that did not necessarily require creative thinking, but it all somehow fed back into my own work. It gave me the confidence needed to go on my own. Despite it’s challenges, I prefer the freedom of self-initiated work. However, sometimes you need the client-driven work to enable you to break out of your comforts in order to grow. It allows you to develop in ways you might not have arrived at on your own.  

Jaco Haasbroek interview
    SL: What other illustrator’s work do you rate?

JH: It’s really difficult to single out one person. There are some amazingly talented individuals out there. I have a lot of respect for people who love what they do and do it well. With the incredible amount of work out there I do feel that a lot of it passes you by and you start passively consuming images without really noticing all of it. The artist almost becomes unimportant when you are bombarded with so much. However, sifting through all of it you do discover some gems.  

SL: Lastly, when you’re working, what’s the likely soundtrack playing in the background?

JH: I alternate between three things: ‘Watching’ or listening to some series, music, or nothing but the sounds of the surrounds.   Thanks very much to Jaco for his time and insights into his creative process – to see more of his work, go to his site. Stay tuned for more great interviews here on our blog – we have some amazing creatives lined up for you.   (all images ©Jaco Haasbroek)

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