Artists We Love: Nanna Venter

INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring

Cape Town-based artist and illustrator Anja Venter, better known as Nanna Venter, started creating her bright and bold artworks to “pay rent” while she finishes up her PhD.

Apart from the pieces she draws for her online store, she also does a drawing a day on Instagram – and it’s getting a lot of attention.

We caught up with her to find out more about her aesthetic, her characters and what we can expect next.

1. You’re currently well into the process of completing a drawing a day on Instagram. How do you decide what to draw on a daily basis? And what do you do with all the drawings once you’re finished?

Initially I had a number of thematic series planned. But now, I’m usually in a panic and just draw whatever flows naturally. I’ve become very good at automatic drawing in pencil, which usually involves drawing out a circle and a square and seeing what emerges, then inking the final product. Drawing is typically my relaxation time, so I try to not make it too stressful. Otherwise I’m influenced by current events, pop culture and also take the odd commission. As for what I do with the drawings – initially I thought I would have a big exhibition in 2017, but it’s a logistical nightmare to exhibit 300-odd drawings… so I’ll probably curate a selection to exhibit and sell the ones I’m not too attached to on my webstore.

2. Your aesthetic is instantly recognisable. Did this come naturally or did it take some time to find your groove?

My aesthetic is a product of consistently drawing and seeing what sticks. Like most kids growing up in the late nineties and early 2000s, my initial drawings were very manga influenced. Then I discovered Craig Thompson’s emotive brushpen drawings, shamelessly copied aspects of Merwe Marchand Le Roux, Anton Kannemeyer, Willem Samuel and Jaime Hernandez’s work, and here I am now – influenced by an emerging global community of femme artists on the internet. My groove is a remix.

3. Your Mutiny drawings depict colourful futuristic imagery with a focus on strong, powerful women. How would you describe the women you illustrate?

I’m really drawn (excuse the pun) to the weirdo trope, the kid who might feel like they’re a space alien, but have confidence in their own difference. I often think I’d really like to be friends with the people I draw: they’re sassy but kind, alternative but tolerant, and I love imagining their backstories.

4. How do you choose who to feature in your Best Buds series?

I made a really long list that I used to take to parties and events and ask people to try name famous best friends that weren’t already on the list, and I would add them. The list turned into a weird conversation starter for debates on representation. Fun fact: through this very scientific poll I can conclude that the vast majority of famous best buds are white men, and women of colour duos are super rare. By the end, it was a very intimidating and long list, so I just started working through it depending on what I felt like drawing that day. Unfortunately the best buds are far too time intensive for my current schedule, so I might pick up on them again next year.

5. You’re in the middle of finishing up your PhD. Do you have any exciting projects coming up despite being so busy already?

For now I’m wearing blinkers and just running toward the PhD finish line! But future projects include setting up a community creative studio, designing cool shower curtains (‘cause they’re impossible to find!), manufacturing clothing and patches, making games, more daily drawings and writing fiction.

View more of Nanna’s work at and visit her online store at