I first came across Sana’s designs on the Redbubble Group on FB. I fell in love with her fun, bright designs of creatures—marine, of the veld, and of the air. A fellow South African, Sana’s got years of design experience (and life experience) so I thought I’d ask a few questions and share some of her work with you. Enjoy!
You cut your teeth in fashion design. How did you transition into graphic design?
It was never a transition for me as I always incorporated graphics into my designs: I designed textile prints as well as prints for placement printing on clothing.
Although I would never describe myself as a graphic designer, as it really is a field on its own.
Do you miss fashion design? Would you re-enter that field again?
I don’t really miss the fashion industry as it has changed so much during my career. Thanks to Redbubble, though, I am able to do fashion, home décor and other design spheres.
You use a variety of mediums: sketching, illustration and digital art. Which do you prefer? Has it always been this way?
I just LOVE experimenting with various mediums, I prefer digital! Although when I need some stress release I turn back to drawing.
I started with hand drawn and painting, I only learnt computers in 2006.
If I had to describe your work at the moment, I’d call use terms like ‘whimsical’, innocent’, ‘fun’. What, so far, has been your favourite description of your work?
A poem which I use with afrikartworx is:
“Designed with sparks from the new and unexpected,
From imagination and reality,
With LOVE, WIT and INDIVIDUALITY.”
I would also like to use words like Afrocentric, contemporary, urban, and decoloniality.
I love you marine collection, so joyful and full of energy. Where do you get the inspiration for things like Whale?
Coming from Cape Town, of course I have two oceans and spend lots of time there for regeneration and inspiration. I am also influenced by many cultures, Africa, India, Japan, China, too much to mention actually.
Works like ‘BEE 141 HONEYCOMB’ and ‘PANGOLIN 133 IN A PATCH’ also seem inspired by nature. Is there a special place you visit when the creativity wanes?
Yes! Nature of course, we have to highlight the plight of our environment especially for the generations still to come who may never see some of our beautiful creatures….Climate change is our biggest threat.
As a designer, I tend to play around until I find a variation I like. Are you the same when it comes to variations, or do you have very specific plans and ideas before hand?
There is no one formula that works in art. No piece evolves the same. I doodle, I draw, and if I can teach anyone anything it’s the importance of variation, it stretches the creative imagination and can take you to places you may never go.
Tell us more about Afrikartworx. How did it come about?
I was retrenched and needed to re-invent myself. I did what I do naturally and created Afrikartworx. I felt a need to highlight Africa, with a more modern brush. I never liked the blank faces in African art, depicting no identity. The fact that there are new lines depicting beauty in this new age. My life has also always been influenced by politics due to my dad and his circle of friends (who were P.A.C.) in London.
And the future? Which direction would you like to go in next?
I am helping a fellow artist Walter Chinoda (a sculptor/artist living in the diaspora). He has a stall in Franschoek. “Art and Sculpture Collide”.
You can support him on the following links:
I will continue to work on the pods that I belong to and hopefully one day a large chain will see and understand my vision and buy my goods… Yes I will continue to dream!
My name is Sana Desai-Raftopoulos. My History is deeply embedded in that of my Fathe,r Ebrahim Desai (a political exile), and my Mother Janie (a talented seamstress/designer) who both played their part in influencing my passions in life. I grew up in England (London).
My loves are Fashion, art, stationery, music, dance, and film.
I am a Mother of two boys, grandmother of two, and wife, married to renowned Academic (in the region and internationally) Professor Brian Raftopoulos.
I believe in Local promotion will then equal job opportunities and growth. We need to celebrate our ART, MUSIC, FILM, Writers, PHOTOGRAPHY, MIXED MEDIA, PERFOMANCE, FASHION, STYLISTS etc. AS AFRICA
After working in the fashion industry for well over 30 years, I am continuing my journey as an artist/ entrepreneur.