20Q: Peet Pienaar

“Maak mooi” (make pretty) is what graphic designer Peet Pienaar does. Find out what else he does – out and in his studio.
Cover of Afro Magazine by The President
Cover of Afro Magazine by The President

For many people Peet Pienaar’s claim to fame is the incident in 2000 where he videotaped his own foreskin being cut off. Those were the days when he was better known as a performance artist. Today Pienaar is a graphic designer and co-owner of The President design studio. The President have recently opened a studio in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When he’s not busy with circumcision-related practices, Pienaar is also the editor and publisher of Afro magazine – a Pan-African publication offering the best of contemporary writing and culture from the continent.

1. If not design, what would you do? I would be a gardener.

2. If you were president for a year, what would you do? I would make a rule that every tourist from a country we don’t need visas for, must pay half for everything here and tourists from countries we need visas for, must pay double for everything here.

3. What's the best design advice you've ever received? Maak mooi (make pretty).

4. What is your most treasured possession? Life, without it you are dead. It’s so lame but true.

5. What's your pet hate? People bitching and moaning and not doing stuff.

6. What's your secret obsession? Comme Des Garçon perfume.

7. What's your greatest achievement? Making a living with design.

8. Have you ever seen insanity where you later saw creativity? No, insanity for me was always linked to drugs and I have never seen creativity where there were drugs.

9. What's something you know you do differently to most people? I would go one step further.

10. What one thing that you have not done would you really like to do? Go to Antarctica, and build a proper music venue for Cape Town.

11. How would you explain your own creative process? The older I get the more subconscious it becomes, I wake up many nights knowing what paper to print on, what size, ink and special printing processes I’m going to use. Also what image I’m going to create.

12. Do you have (m)any unrealised projects? Yes, but they are supposed to be unrealised, like making a movie or writing a novel.

13. What is the question you ask yourself the most? What can I do to make it better?

14. In your subjective view, what makes a piece of design good? If it carries desire.

15. What is your favourite term of abuse or your favourite expletive? Fuck you.

16. What items would you put into a time capsule? No religious literature.

17. If you were told that you had to live inside a work of art, which would you choose? A Claes Oldenburg park.

18. How would you design a spice rack for a blind person? Two pots next to each other, one hole for salt, three holes for pepper.

19. What makes you laugh out loud? Comedies and brandy.

20. Are there certain characteristics that all creatives possess? They are all quite sensitive.