Illustrators We Love: Chironne Engelbrecht

INTERVIEWED BY Michaela Stehr IMAGES courtesy of Chironne Engelbrecht

Local illustrator Chironne Engelbrecht (aka @ronedrawn) chats to VISI about her love of animals, artistic endeavours and plans for 2020.

Tell us about how you got into illustration.

I have been drawing from a very young age but it was while I was at architecture school that I started to develop a specific technique. I used pen drawings to develop conceptual ideas as well as detailed technical solutions. It’s a great tool to help interpret and imagine spaces at a very early stage in the design process.

After university, my husband and I have spent a lot of time travelling through South America, Southern Africa and Asia (living in Ho Chi Minh City for one year stirred me to want to bring attention to the detail that makes the people and places beautiful). To record our stories and places we visited I kept a sketch journal to draw and illustrate our special moments. This was a great way to capture small details in our every day. Something you can’t always see in a photograph. Even after all our travelling I now continue with my sketch journal on a daily basis.

What inspires your work?

I am mostly inspired by the detail in our urban and natural landscapes. I have also worked on pieces that are motivated by certain real-life issues that we are presented with. After visiting Borneo I researched and illustrated endangered animals like the orangutan. It started out as a self-informative study, which then developed into an educational A-Z Endangered Animal poster.

What process do you follow for each piece?

Every piece is different really. Some drawings take five seconds, others take several days or weeks. The best thing for me to do is to put my pen to paper and just start drawing! What I try and avoid is over-planning a drawing before I even touch the paper because I want the first one to be perfect, therefore I usually start by drawing hatching lines, textures and vignettes – kind of like a warm-up. To establish perspective and composition in a drawing, I draw a small vignette in a few seconds. These quick illustrations are a great way for me to start visualising my thoughts and develop the bigger drawing. I continue with this process until I feel I have portrayed my idea.


Do you have a personal favourite piece?

I guess it would be the creation of the series of sketches of endangered animals. I had to research the animals, their conservation status, their habitat loss and how we can each contribute to saving these wonderful creatures. In the process, I learned a lot and hope that it will also impact the lives of others to make small changes in their lives to make a difference in the lives of endangered species.

How has your past influenced your creativity?

I remember winning a colouring-in competition in pre-school and my mother donating my drawings to the church auction. Art in high school was one of my favourite subjects and studying architecture at university also opened doors to many creative platforms. I guess these were all big influences and have fuelled my creativity all the way.

Do you have any local illustrators who inspire you?

The inspiration from local talent is endless! To name a few: Ruschka du Toit’s elegant illustrations and branding, Nicole Levenberg’s wallpapers and textiles and Catherine Holtzhausen’s intricate paper art.

What does 2020 have in store for you?

I have so many ideas for my illustrations, like product design and conceptual storytelling, but most of the time I think of new ideas faster than what I can execute them. So in 2020, I will definitely take a step back to those ideas and make it happen. An open exhibition is also way overdue, so I’m looking forward to that next year.

See more of Chironne’s work on Instagram.