Posted in artists, design, FYI, Limelight

In the Limelight: Afrikartworx/Sana Desai-Raftopoulos

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!


Leopard Zig-zag Border

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.


Contemporary Identity Africa


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,
I would also like to use words like Afrocentric, contemporary, urban, and decoloniality.


Mosaic Whale Ocean Wave


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.


Big Bee


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.


Mosaic Seahorse Light Ocean


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!

About Sana

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.

Find Sana

Posted in design, FYI, redbubble

Whispering Tree

Have you ever sat near to or under a tree and heard it whisper to you?

I’ve been lucky to have experienced this more than once, admittedly these were during breezy days.

One such tree was was this one in Yulin, at Central Square.


Another was this tree in Broken Hill, Australia.

m_Tree Broken Hill I was so taken by the beauty of its bark in contrast to the other sights along Bromide Street (it’s a mining town, it really is) that I stood for a few moments just gawking and marveling at it. This tree had a story, perhaps more than one… And all I knew for sure was that I wanted to paint it.

Months later in Harbin, I found I’d ended up sketching it in black ink. Back in SA, I decided to add colour to it with gouache.

And what did the tree whisper to me? Well, parts of it are on the painting, and the rest…that’s between me and the tree 😀


What story would your favourite tree tell you if you could understand its whisperings.

Find it on Redbubble.

Posted in nonfiction, Outdoors, Photos

Tiger and Crow

Tiger and crow

I was lucky enough to take this photo during my very first visit to the Siberian Tiger Park in  Harbin, North East China.

I loved this photo from the moment I first saw it on the display screen of my camera, that freezing cold January morning. This photo tells me so many things…

  • Small things can go about their business whilst big things pass them by.
  • Different planes of existence don’t always interact.
  • The symbol of death may pass you by and still leave you whole and vital.
  • Neither of these beings have any thing to prove to anybody else, and so they have presence and balance.
  • But most all this photo speaks to me of harmony and beauty–a perfect moment with which nature has gifted me.

The tiger and crow has rewarded me for seeking perfect moments by showing me that they do, indeed, exist–especially when we least expect to find them.

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