Local talent is the best kind of talent and in this interview with PJ Offner, we get to understand the mind of an illustrator that is contributing to the boiling pot of creativity in SA.
People like originality, the trick is to make someone see the value of your expertise as a creative or an artist and pay you stupid money for it.
In this feature, we speak to PJ Offner, an illustrator from Cape Town who is apart of Am I Collective. Being from a city with an abundance of creativity, especially right now, can either serve one of two purposes: it can either dampen or intimidate one; or it can act as a catalyst for production of the best possible work, and it seems that for PJ Offner, who is continually delivering artworks full of character, it has done the latter. In this Q&A, the extremely skilled illustrator touches on the role that he believes the internet has played in inspiring the work, how cartoons have been in the picture since childhood and what kind of opportunities there are in the mother city. The art speaks for itself, really: its vibrant, fun and rich in personality….
Tell us a little bit about yourself…
PJ OFFNER My name is PJ Offner, I’m an illustrator from Stellenbosch, currently living and working in Cape Town at Am I Collective with some of the most talented individuals around. I studied graphic design at AAA School of Advertising but always ventured in the illustrative ways of design and soon after ended up joining the Am I Collective team where I am still currently doing time.
What inspired you to begin illustrating?
PJ Growing up I was always inspired by cartoons and animation. As a kid, I was convinced I would become a cartoonist for some kind of newspaper. I sat day in day out drawing cartoons and characters. I didn’t realise the countless opportunities there were for creatives locally until I started reading up on graphic design. I always knew I wanted to draw but didn’t think I would be able to make a reasonable income through it.
What would you say have you often get inspiration from?
PJ It’s easy to get me inspired but, just as easily, I can get distracted. The internet can do both. I like books, old Mickey Mouse books and any forms of graphic novels will get me excited and inspired to create something. Cartoons, I think, are my biggest inspiration but even though I take reference from old cartoons my work hardly looks like it.
Was it difficult for you to find your own style?
PJ Finding your own style takes time I guess. Working at a place like Am I Collective, you dabble in all different types of illustration styles, which is key to developing your own style because you learn what you like and figure out what you don’t like doing. Working under pressure is always a great way to push yourself. Working on various projects and styles, I quickly figured out what I like doing and what comes natural to me, not necessarily easy.
You seem to do a lot of music-related artwork. In which ways has music influenced you personally?
PJ Music also plays a big role in my work, especially 90’s hip-hop and jazz as I listen to it most hours of the day. I tend to take some kind of inspiration from the music I listen to lyrically, the mood or vibe it puts you in or the culture.
What kind of opportunities are there for young artists in Cape Town?
PJ There are plenty of opportunities in Cape Town. People like originality. The trick is to make someone see the value of your expertise as a creative or an artist and pay you stupid money for it.
What advice would you give to other people thinking of going into the arts?
PJ It’s hard work and success doesn’t happen overnight. But, doing something that you are passionate about every day is second to none.