A new kid on the block

CityPress - - The Good Guide - Gar­reth.van­niek­erk@city­press.co.za

Cape Town-based il­lus­tra­tor Keith Vla­hakis re­fuses to be em­bar­rassed by the “hope­less Amer­i­can­i­sa­tion” he de­picts in his work, telling #Trend­ing he em­braces it “shame­lessly”.

“Ad­mit­ting that I pre­fer draw­ing Hulk Ho­gan, Jam Mas­ter Jay or Darth Vader over, let’s say, an an­i­mal in the Big Five? I’m a pop artist and the in­ter­net has blurred what in­flu­ences us or where it comes from. I could have some­thing in com­mon with you just by ask­ing you what your favourite movie or car­toon char­ac­ter is. And you could be from some­where far off like In­dia or the North Pole. Feel me?” I do, I think. The bal­ance Vla­hakis creates be­tween elec­tric dig­i­tal colours and his own more or­ganic hand-drawn lines brings a layer of artis­tic tex­ture to his por­traits while al­low­ing them to main­tain a street sen­si­bil­ity.

“I got into street cul­ture through not hav­ing cool sneak­ers as a kid be­cause my mom couldn’t af­ford to buy me Jor­dans. Then I wanted to break-dance be­cause I sucked at most sports at school,” he says. “I taught my­self how to break-dance off the in­ter­net.”

Dur­ing his short time on the art scene, his body of work has in­cluded street mu­rals, Man­dela-brand tinned food, cus­tomised Ja­panese dolls and vinyl record la­bels. What’s next for the new il­lus­tra­tor on the block?

“The dream pro­ject has to be a Kanye West al­bum cover ... Hope­fully, I’ll get my first pair of signed Yeezy Boosts with that gig too.” See more of Vla­hakis’ work at



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