"Paper Planes" takes flight

South African illustrators and graphic designers give traditional mythology and folklore a fresh coat of paint for the inaugural “Paper Planes” exhibition.

A collaboration between Design Indaba and Alexander’s Band sees the birth of Paper Planes, a group exhibition by South African artists illustrating stories from Southern African mythology and folklore. The result is a wild and wide collection of illustrations depicting the tales in unexpected ways.

Alexander’s Band is an agency that represents South African artists and illustrators that was born out of a love for the diversity of local talent.

The illustrators have depicted stories and folklore ranging from the Afrikaans tale of “Die Heks van Hex Rivier” and the classic Nguni tale of the menacing Tokoloshe to the story of Van Hunks and the smoking competition he had with the devil.

This is the first Paper Planes exhibition at Design Indaba Expo 2015. The illustrations will be exhibited and prints will be available for sale. 

How the Birds Chose a King by Chris Valentine

Chris Valentine is a freelance illustrator and graphic artist based in Johannesburg. His illustrations are mainly created in black and white in a style influenced by video games. His submission for the “Paper Planes” exhibition is an illustration that tells the tale of how the tiny little grass warbler defeated the eagle to become the king of birds.

King Lion's Presents by Justin Southey

A graduate of the Stellenbosch Academy of Graphic Design and Photography, Justin Southey currently works as a freelance illustrator. His work is characterised by whimsical illustrations that he has drawn and painted large murals and creates smaller product and package designs. Southey illustrates the story of King Lion’s lavish party for the other animals. At the party, King Lion doles out lots of presents including fur, horns, paws and claws.

The Tug of War by Marlize Eckard

Based in Cape Town, Marlize Eckard is a freelance artist focussing on character design, concept art and vinyl toys. In her illustration, Eckard captures the cunning hare and the trick he plays on the elephant and the rhino to get them to have a tug of war. At the end, the elephant is furious and poor hippo loses his tail.

Tokoloshe and the Children by Rikus Ferreira

Graphic designer, illustrator and comic artist Rikus Ferreira is based in Cape Town. He has won multiple awards for his work including the New York Type Directors Club Awards for Typographic Excellence, a D&AD silver award and a few Loeries. In his illustration for the “Paper Planes” exhibition, Ferreira takes on the Tokoloshe. Except, in this tale, the Tokoloshe is mild-mannered and incredibly fond of children. Ferreira’s illustration does well to repaint the Tokoloshe as a kind creature living on the riverbanks.

Umveli and the Bird by Amber Smith

Amber Smith is a Johannesburg-based illustrator. Her most recent exhibition “Back to the Future” was inspired by David Bowie, Dr Who and the 1980s. For the “Paper Planes” exhibition, Smith illustrates the story of the little red bird who asks Umveli Ngqkane, who created the earth, to transform him into a cat, then a dog and then a spear and shield wielding warrior. After multiple upgrades the bird is still unhappy so Umveli teaches him a lesson about gratefulness.