Karabo Poppy Moletsane is a globally acclaimed and multi-award-winning Illustrator, Graphic Designer and Street Artist from Vereeniging, South Africa. The illustrator fascinated us with all the projects she created in her unique South African-inspired art style.

Karabo Poppy

The inspiration behind her illustration style

Her illustration style is an homage to the African culture. In an interview for Between 10and5, she explained where she gets her inspiration: “In my own practice of illustration, I try and attain an identity described by Hlonipha Mokoena, a South African professor of anthropology, as neither Western nor African but is rather proudly South African (A combination of Africa along with many other cultures). This manner of illustrating requires me to try and incorporate themes of historical connections, a tribal nature and a sense of quirkiness. This style of illustrating also shows how beneficial a hybrid, pluralistic and globalized approach to illustration makes for dynamic and unique illustrations.” In the same interview, she said: “I think there is something special that occurs when we see an African culture adopt certain qualities of another culture to produce something new and enticing. ”.

This explains her use of vibrant and energetic colours seen in Western illustration while keeping “a South African feel to it through the use of textures made through printing techniques and subject matter native to South African cultures and sub-cultures.”

Karabo Poppy NBA mural

Living a creative lifestyle

Her style is not only visible through her art but also in her day-to-day life. Her sense of fashion represents just as well her style and personality. “I find the world of fashion extremely appealing. I see it as a combination of engineering, architecture, design and art that allows an audience to spend the day ‘wearing design,’” she explained in the Between 10and5 press release. This love of fashion also transferred to her work, as she collaborated with Nike to design a pair of Air Force 1 that LeBron James wore.

Karabo Poppy Air Force 1

A busy businesswoman

Karabo Poppy also always has a project on her hands. From creating street art represented in the Makeba music video to founding a creative agency called Mother Tongue – Creative House and being part of the speakers at Cannes Lions 2022. She also appeared in Forbes Africa #30under30.

Her art is directed to whoever is at least a little curious about the African culture, and her goal, as mentioned in Forbes Africa #30under30, is to put black female illustrators on the map.

Karabo Poppy Makeba video

You can admire more of her art on her Instagram and her Behance.

Did Karabo Poppy spark your interest in her culture?