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The Fineprint

March 23, 2013

The recently launced Fineprint sells prints by South African illustrators, graphic designers, artists and photographers.

The Fineprint

Amongst them you’ll  find an array of prints (old and new) from our studio. The site’s main focus is ‘open edition’ prints and Giclee printing is done on 100% archival cotton rag paper and mailed in custom large diameter tubes.

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October 4, 2012

Book cover design for the Afrikaans novel Varkpos* by the multi-talented Leon Jacobs. Find out more and download it for kindle here. *Directly translated into English as pig mail.

Loeries 2012

September 27, 2012

Very happy to have walked away with our first piece of independent metal – a Bronze Loerie award in the category Brand Identity & Collateral Design – Identity Programmes for the Cavalli corporate identity programme which included both the stationery and wine label design.

House & Leisure

September 1, 2012

Nice little feature of the Cheval d’Or wine label in the August issue of House & Leisure.

High Life

July 2, 2012

British Airways’ High Life,  has launched a local edition: High Life South Africa. We were very happy to be commissioned to design and illustrate the cover for the launch issue.

Cheval d’Or

June 27, 2012

For the Cavalli Wine & Stud farm’s range of wines, we evolved their equine focused identity into Cheval d’Or (The Golden Horse). Here the icon of the horse comes alive in a homage to this incredible animal’s service to man throughout history. Each wine features a unique horse that compliments it’s characteristics.

It is estimated that approximately 500,000 horses perished during the South African War (1899-1902). “Warlord” is a tribute to these gallant animals.

“Rogue Horse” celebrates the untamed spirit, passion and boldness intrinsic to the free-roaming wild plains horses.

Illustrations by Doug Powell.


June 15, 2012

Logo and stationery designed for Cavalli Wine & Stud Farm.

The culture of Cavalli, which is located in the heart of the Stellenbosch winelands, is deeply rooted in a passion
 for horses. This passion has been made tangible through Cavalli’s identity, which reflects the 
spirit, grace and power of the animal in every aspect of its manifestation.


May 20, 2012

Hand-drawn typography done for agency Network BBDO’s client, Nedbank. The brief was to generate typography based on local sign writing and vernacular signage. Right up my alley. Here are a few samples of the work which appeared  on billboard, press, television and various printed collateral.


July 22, 2011

We were featured in June 2011’s Advantage Magazine. A selection of 10 ‘younger’ agency shops were given the opportunity to visually portray their interpretation of ‘creativity’ – each using a letter of the word ‘creativity’.

Victor the signwriter.

June 8, 2011

I first spotted Victor Gardener’s work in 2005 while visiting Adelaide in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. It was everywhere to be seen around the small town, as well as the neighbouring towns of Bedford and Fort Beaufort. The letters have lots of personality and a unique appearance that set them apart from other local signwriting. I was immediately taken by the way the typography seem to “bulge” to the top left-hand side of each character as well as some of the unique embellishments like the quirkiness of the dots on the i’s. And, of course, the drop shadows.

After some research and a few phone calls I managed to track Victor down in the town of Somerset-East. And as I recently revisited Adelaide again, I didn’t hesitate to travel the 80 kilometers to meet the man.

We met mid-morning in the main road of Somerset East and over the next few hours I was given a tour via his extensive work throughout the little Karoo dorp. While we drove through the town and adjoining township he filled me in on his journey to becoming a signwriter.

Victor started out in 1980 as an apprentice at Haylock Signs in East London, and did extensive work both there and in the Transkei. He was schooled in the art of engraving trophies and rings, the silkscreening of posters and t-shirts (for which he also created the artwork) and signwriting.

He moved to Somerset-East in 1995 and has been working and living there ever since. His involvement in the community is not only visible through the work he has done (often pro-bono for local schools and churches), but also in how everyone recognized and heartily greeted him, as we went from site to site. Or perhaps this was because he had a curious mlungu with a camera in tow?

His signwriting comprises two fields – his natural “house style” which is clearly visible as his signature and “corporate work” which entails the painting of logos and slogans. For this specific work, Victor normally starts by measuring out newsprint to the size of the “canvas” he has to work with. He sticks this up to a wall in his studio (at the back of his house) and uses an overhead projector to get the artwork to the desired size. Instead of copying the artwork, he uses a tracing wheel to pierce holes through the paper. Once the newsprint goes up on site, he uses a chalk bag to dab the colored chalk through the holes the tracing wheel has left. Once he removes the newsprint, his outline is visible.

An example of Victor's metal work.

Some more "formal" typography.

The tracing wheel used to map out the artwork onto paper.

Chalk Bag

I had the pleasure of watching Victor employ his natural style –  great to see the confidence and accuracy with which he lays down each stroke. I commissioned him to do some work based on some of my sketches and will reveal the result of our collaboration here in months to come.

In an age where everything revolves around digital and being instant, it’s refreshing to see someone who has mastered their craft, taking time and pride in using their hands. Also great to visit charming Somerset East, mostly known for it’s famous resident, artist Walter Battiss, who was born there in 1906. But if you ever get a chance to visit this quaint little town, don’t forget to look out for the work of Victor Gardener.