Grad Guide 2020: Kaylyn Kemp
Concerned with both environmental and humanitarian issues, Kaylyn Kemp is an illustrator who places a consciousness behind her designs. In conversation with Kemp for 10and5’s annual graduate series, we learn about her favourite final year projects, Taste Buds and Grand, as well as her exciting new start-up, Blazon Handmade Cosmetics. Throughout her work Kemp puts her creative talents and charming, light-hearted style to use to share a message of sustainability.
Where and what did you study?
I studied Visual Communication at Red & Yellow in Cape Town. I majored in illustration and minored in art direction.
What do you love about illustration?
I think my true interest lies in the part of the world where illustration comes alive… Illustration to me shows up best in the “local is lekker”, small, caring and expressive business community. Illustration truly has the ability to make something feel personal and like a connection or a relationship between you and the product or the brand. You know that feeling when your best friend has handmade and written you a birthday card? That is the feeling illustration radiates.
How would you describe your style to someone who’d never seen your work before?
My style is forever evolving and changing, but the characteristics I possess reflect in my work. My work is light-hearted, a little bit eccentric and comical, and thoughtful.
Tell us about the work you created during your final year. Any projects that stand out for you?
As an art direction minor student, I learnt the importance of creating work that has meaning and that actively promotes change. Besides for the skills that this subject taught me, I am naturally a practicality kind of person. Because of this, my favourite projects are those that take real problems and provide awareness and real solutions! I have two favourite projects that stood out for me… Taste Buds, which brings awareness to a niche but important topic: pesticides in the wine industry. The Taste Buds merch line brings a fun yet educational twist to the topic of pesticides and how it affects the environment and people who come into contact with it. Not only do the illustrations on the merch bring attention to the types of plants and creatures that we should keep around as natural pest control fighters, but it can also be used by organic wine farms to promote their products.
My self-initiated brief, titled Grand, was also one of my all-time favourites. Personally, I love “grandma clothes”, I love wearing floral patterns and chunky jerseys – and between the youngsters it is considered quite fashionable. However, it came to my attention that things that are labeled “cool” on young people are often viewed as “boring” on an older body due to ageism in contemporary society. Ageism has many causes – such as the value capitalism puts on money, which naturally favours the working class – but I found that one of the root causes of ageist behaviour is due to weak relationships between grandparents and grandchildren. Grand placed a focus on bringing old and young together and to create a space where all generations are included. The Grand merch does not only match up the generations through customizable textile design, but also has a game, titled Conversation Cards, that helps restore the emotional bond between the “clashing” generations by sparking conversations.
What would you like to be known for in the local creative industry?
A go-to collaborator and an ambitious enthusiast! I tend to be diplomatic and like to test the waters when you first meet me. But the truth is, I also enjoy stretching my imagination and can get excited about anything from Gouda cheese packaging to the financial repercussions of the 2008 recession article in the morning newspaper. Being inquisitive by nature and solution-driven, a bucket of enthusiasm is what betters my work, project by project. I also want to add that my biggest fear is missing a deadline and my biggest achievement is my punctuality – hence the “go-to collaborator” part of this answer.
What are your plans for 2021?
What I wish for the most for 2021 is to find my space in the cluttered industry. This year I would like to focus on working with different businesses and brands to find people who can share my enthusiasm and create things that bring true value, whether this is through freelancing or a permanent job. I will also be working on a brand that I recently co-started, Blazon Handmade Cosmetics, as it has brought me and those whom I have shared it with nothing but joy. And lastly, to keep my design skills funky and fresh, I have also committed to a weekly creative challenge. So, keep an eye out on the socials! I am hoping that the weekly creative challenge will not only build my portfolio and help me connect with others inspired by design, but that it will also build a platform where I can share some of the skills I have gained.
What were some personal projects (not necessarily linked to studying), that you’re passionate about?
I always thought of myself as someone who is fueled by anything that is good for the earth, or as the modern buzzword goes around, sustainable. I have, however, discovered that although I embrace sustainability in many ways, my favourite sustainable practices are the ones that simplify human life. This, along with all the brown boxes in the health shop that I walk straight past daily, inspired me to co-create (partnered with Dr. Inet Kemp) Blazon Handmade Cosmetics – “blazon” means to display vividly.
As an example, Blazon produces shampoo bars that are plastic free, travel-friendly, contain excellent salon quality ingredients and a single 75g bar is the equivalent of four bottles of shampoo This is a great sustainable substitute to a plastic bottle of liquid shampoo, AND it is a welcome and practical change in the consumer’s routine. Often, sustainable practices demand more effort, less comfort, more time or more money from consumers, whereas this simple swap ADDS value to the consumer’s life instead (whilst adding value to mother nature!).
Although our products may seem a little off topic, it challenges me creatively on a daily basis! Every product added to our stock list becomes a creative exploration. The product ingredients become a research expedition just to find what adds value to the lives of consumers (P.S. artificial fragrance does NOT), biodegradability/degradability through to the packaging and design with our start-up-business-budget as a creative challenge.
Besides the obvious, other factors like web copy and writing content for the online platforms have brought me true purpose to bettering the planet in a, dare I say, fun way. Blazon has also taught me many skills outside of my creative bubble and the true struggles and pleasures of entrepreneurship, and I love interacting with the customers who get as excited about our mission as I do. I am happy to say that it feels like I am using all the creative and marketing knowledge I have worked so hard on at Red & Yellow.
Follow @kaylyning on Instagram.
Grad Guide is an annual series from Between 10and5, profiling some of South Africa’s most exciting creative graduates across the fields of fashion, art, photography and design. Find the full 2020 Grad Guide here.