Karlien de Villiers began making art and comics in the final decades of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. She created her own graphic novel entitled Ma Mère était une très belle femme (My Mother was a beautiful woman). 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 acrylic and oil painting, ink, watercolor, 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.