The work of Durban-based illustrator Victoria Verbaan channels her “inner naughty nice girl”. She has developed a style of her own over the years that combines wit with a dash of rebellion. Her latest collection applies her illustration sand paintings to bags, umbrellas, scarves and scatter cushions.
It has been wonderful to interpret my art across all these different mediums and incorporate stories into my product designs, says Verbaan.
She tells us about how she developed her latest product range.
What inspired the Bye Bye Bunny cushion, umbrella and bag?
For the past three years I have tried to do a daily illustration, whether it be how I start my day or end it. Time can sometimes be an issue so there are days when I don't. I initially started these daily illustrations as part of my research for an upcoming art exhibition, but I found that the practice and the discipline really improved my skills as an artist and illustrator. Through this I have ended up with a huge amount of material/art/imagery to draw from when I'm designing new fabric and wallpaper collections, as well as when I am developing product ranges. Bye-Bye Bunny is one of these daily illustrations, which interprets well across all our products. Most of my work is related to form and I'm influenced by fashion and editorial when I work.
How did the Play Nice scarf come about?
My work is often a derivative of an image I've come across or a photograph I have taken. I was inspired by a specific face and mood with the Play Nice scarf.
I generally love colour but lately I am working with ink and the work, as a result, is very monochromatic. Our scarves are the only products that are not produced locally. Both the print and make-up of the scarf is done in Shanghai through a friend of mine who specialises in textiles. I’ve always wanted to do a range of scarves so it was a great opportunity to be able to work with her. There are four designs and each is available in a limited edition of 50 scarves. We’re looking at doing pocket squares for guys in the future, which I think will be quite racy and fun.
Tell us about your process and materials.
It starts with the actual illustration. I use mixed media – inks, watercolour and acrylic on Hanemuhle fine art paper. It’s then scanned in. Some illustrations will only work as an art print but others interpret very well across anything.
We’ve developed the products slowly, ensuring quality and hopefully good design. The bags are outsourced to a small local family-run workshop that specialises in handbags. We use a coated canvas with leather trims and a waterproof lining. Our fabrics, wallpaper and umbrellas all come out of the same factory, which is also a local family-run operation. We use 100% cotton, either white or natural for our scatter cushions and fabric collection, our brollies are 100% waterproof with an imported Beechwood frame and our silk scarves are 100% silk.
You talk about a “dash of rebellion” in describing your work. How does this come to light?
It is often in the subject I choose to paint. I focus on form and mood, which play an important role in the rebellion element, as well as the titles I give each piece. It’s also seen in my attitude towards my work, which I describe as ‘come on, lets just do it!’.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
For me, to transform something two-dimensional into a three-dimensional object is very satisfying. A piece of paper that becomes an artwork and then becomes a bag, brollie, scarf, scatter cushion or wallpaper is always a thrill for me to see.