Karlien de Villiers began making art and comics in the final decades of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. She created a
graphic novel entitled Ma Mère était une très belle femme (My Mother was a beautiful woman), which was published in German, French, Italian and Spanish.
Throughout her career, her art has retained an element of the dark, comical, and narrative. She works in a mode of portrait illustration across various mediums, including mixed media on paper, watercolor, acrylics, sculpture, and printmaking. Each medium imparts its own distinctive features but the cast of naively-rendered figures remains constant, exerting their tragicomic pathos and a prevailing sense of doom.
De Villiers' work has been published and featured in Le Monde (FR), Internazionale (IT), Bodoï (FR), Canal BD (FR), Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH), Tages-Anzeiger (CH), Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE), Der Tagesspiegel (DE), Between 10and5 (ZA), Bitterkomix (ZA), i-Jusi Magazine (ZA), ComicArtAfrica (ZA), Artthrob (ZA), Bookdash (ZA), Art South Africa (ZA), Mail & Guardian (ZA), Business Day (ZA), VISI Magazine (ZA), ELLE Decor (ZA).
Karlien de Villiers. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe. 2019. Watercolor, ink and gouache on paper. 100 x 70 cm.
Karlien de Villiers was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1975. She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Stellenbosch University and started her career as a designer at Garth Walker's Orange Juice Design Studio at Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency in Cape Town. In 2006 she received an MA in Information Design from Pretoria University. She was a full-time Lecturer in Visual Communication Design at Stellenbosch University from 2006 to 2017, and currently lectures part-time in Design and Coordinates the Honours Illustration Course at the Department of Visual Arts, Stellenbosch University.