Illustrators We Love: Tyla Mason

INTERVIEWED BY Lindi Brownell Meiring

Cape Town-based illustrator Tyla Mason’s whimsical drawings are created to make people feel happy. Here, we chat to her about “snackable” GIFs, her cheerful use of colour and what’s next.

From labels for wine bottles and film posters to chocolate bar wrappers and tote bags, your illustrations feature across the board. What do you most enjoy about creating?

There is so much that I enjoy about creating, but I think, above all, I love drawing because it has always been a language that I feel most comfortable communicating myself through. It feels more natural and more succinct than expressing myself with words.

At the moment I am particularly enjoying having my illustrations featured on products that people can interact with directly, rather than work that is being experienced through a screen. It’s nice to see my drawings grow legs and venture out off the page and into the real world.

Your work often makes bold use of colour. What role does colour play in your work?

The work that I make exists purely to make people feel happy, and the choice of bright, cheerful colours is an important ingredient when creating light-hearted content.  

You also animate your illustrations. In what way do you feel animation brings your illustrations to life?

Animation brings illustration to life by adding a little bit more context or narrative beyond the static image, and can give your illustrated subjects more of a personality. I really enjoy adding rudimentary movement like GIF animation, because it’s simple and effective, and more “snackable” than a long-form video.

In future, I would really like to explore animation more and develop that muscle. I did a few motion graphics projects in my first and second year at college and found that it requires a lot more patience, but the end results were always especially rewarding.

Sound of Silence

Any local illustrators you think should be on everyone’s radar?

There are so many! Ian Jepson’s work is crazy good and he has been a really great mentor to me. Emma Philip, Tammy Joubert and Ello X-Ray Eyez are three of my favourites. I’m also really excited about Shayna Arvan and Fran Labuschagne’s work. 

What’s next for you?

From what I was expecting, in the best way, these past two years of working in the real world have shown me, so far, that it’s difficult to predict where this thing is heading. I love being able to work with print and products as well as digital and online editorial work, and hope to build more facets on to my client work in the future. 

I am also super eager to work on a project that is long-term and holds a bit more personal significance. I haven’t figured out what shape this might take, whether it be a book or a zine or a body of work, but I would love to submerge myself in something a bit bigger, that integrates an element of myself within the work. 

If that never works out, that’s okay too. As long as I’m still drawing and making things I’ll be the happiest person.

Follow Tyla on Instagram to keep up to date with her work and see more at