A new kid on the block
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