A Chat with Ryan Atkinson

A Chat with Ryan Atkinson

Ryan Atkinson is a 22 year old South African who loves good design. His portfolio features his work with typography, print design, photography, package design, motion graphics and illustration. We were fortunate to catch up with him and ask him a few questions about his work and portfolio. Here is what he had to say.

What is your Favorite Tool/ Application? Why?

Hmmm favourite app… That’s a tough question. I think most applications can do great things if used correctly, it is the artist using the tool that is important. Having said that, if I absolutely had to pick my application of choice my number one would be Adobe Illustrator, and a close second is Photoshop.


As you may know we have a soft spot for African digital artists. Do you know any African artists that you would recommend?

I would recommend Louis Minnaar, his work is absolutely phenomenal. His style is very bold and heavy, with strikingly unique illustrative linework. He worked with us recently on a job that we are doing for a well known television channel, which highlighted to me that his great artistry is well complimented by his design.




Where do you seek inspiration? What are some design sites you can’t live without? Why?

I feel that inspiration can be found anywhere at any time, you just have to look and you will find (and appreciate). I find inspiration in good work be it art, design, architecture, typography, film and music. Basically anything that you can attach an emotion or feeling to, could be inspiring or make me feel inspired. I think its important as a designer or artist to draw from your surroundings for inspiration, this is what gives us all our differences, as our designs our shaped by our experiences and influences. When I’m feeling down, I think my design depicts this and visa versa. Hmmm, sites that I cant live without. These are some of my favourites:
Each site here is handpicked off my favourites list. Behance is such a great social networking site for creative people, I have already started collaborations with other designers that I have met from the site. CpLuv and Design you trust are some of the best sites for inspiration, because they handpick not necessarily the best designs or artwork, but just amazing imagery from around the globe. The grid system is a great resource for any designer/artist. You can get a lot of good advise, downloadable templates and so forth, all obviously to do with design grid systems. If you like motion design, go look at shilo.tv you will understand.



We are always interested in what people have on their bookshelves. Do you have any design books you would recommend?

There are so many great design books out there, but I’ll give you a few of my favourites. A book by Joseph Muller-Brockman called Grid Systems, its great for any person that is interested in typography and layout, it might feel technical at times but once you get through it you won’t regret it! The Helvetica book, INSPIRATION condensed into a small handbook, enough said. The Layout Look Book by Max Weber is a great book, which showcases amazing work from the past to present, you will love this book! And I know this is not a book, but I think this film deserves a special mention as it is just one of the best documentaries out there for anyone creative, it’s called Helvetica (get yourself a copy of this at http://www.helveticafilm.com its invaluable).897661236717472


So Ryan what are you currently working on? Any upcoming projects?

There’s so much happening at the moment, that its hard to think about whats still to come. But if I could have things my way, I would be allowed some time to work on a new corporate ID that is very close to my own heart (a personal project to some extent), where I would love to develop everything from the corporate stationery through to packaging and a new showreel release (this obviously incorporating a lot more work than just my own).


Any advice you would give to upcoming African digital artists?

Advice I would give to any artist/designer. Follow your passion, feed it, allow it to grow and flourish. Work hard, push your creative boundaries every chance you get. Snatch the opportunities when they come your way, and remember everything you do is an extension of yourself so be true and keep your vision in mind.



Leave a comment
  1. Ronel

    August 3, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thank you for a fantastic interview. I believe not all great designers come from Europe but lies in the heart of Africa. Ryan, you are a true inspiration to everyone that experience life with the heart and soul of a blind man.

  2. Sean

    August 4, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Awesome Ryan! It’s always nice when someone that works really hard gets recognition for it. Well done buddy, keep it up.

  3. Francisca

    August 4, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    As design educators we often ask if we fully adhere to the requirements of both the creative individual as well as the demands of the design industry. Congratulations Ryan on creating such innovative and inspiring design. We are proud of you, Louis and all our other students! (Open Window)

  4. Steve

    August 5, 2009 at 6:34 am

    Interviews like this are invaluable to the industry. It gives others an insight into the character of the designer. Ryan , your interview and work shows a designer mature beyond his years. As you are inspired you inspire. I watch your progress with pride and admiration. South Africa has real talent that needs to be recognised,keep it up.

  5. Kirsty Hume

    August 5, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Ryan is one of the greatest designers of our time!!!
    I am his biggest fan and follow him closely!!!

  6. Tim

    August 5, 2009 at 7:35 am

    Hey Ryano

    Good to see all my hard work is starting to pay off!!!
    Were all proud of you back in Cape Town.
    Keep at it, and the best for the future.
    U know who………

  7. Ann Johnson

    August 5, 2009 at 10:54 am

    Hi Ryan

    You have always been on my favorite list and now you are on the top. My you grow from strength to strength and may many doors open to you. People like you make me proud to be South African.

  8. Jenni

    August 6, 2009 at 1:16 am

    Congrats Ryan.
    Nice to see your work getting some outside attention.Very proud of you,hard work pays in the end.
    Keep it up.

  9. Pete Burford

    August 6, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Well done Ryan great stuff


  10. Corneile

    August 6, 2009 at 9:32 am

    iLike! Cool stuff Ryan daug!

  11. Debbie

    August 11, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Hi Ryan, its great to see how you have grown. May your passion continue to grow, so that you may achive your ultimate goal.
    Love from us all in Cape Town

  12. LTR

    April 5, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    This guy is awesome!!

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