Karlien de Villiers was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1975. She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Stellenbosch University. After graduating in 1997 she worked as a commercial designer in an advertising agency in Cape Town. Since 2006 De Villiers has worked as a lecturer in illustration, graphic design and printmaking at Stellenbosch University’s Visual Arts Department. In 2011 de Villiers was awarded the prestigious UNESCO-Aschberg bursary for Visual Arts.
She is the author and illustrator of the graphic novel ‘My mother was a beautiful woman’. The novel was published in a German translation in Switzerland (Arrache Coeur), and emerged as the second-best seller at the Fumetto International Comics Festival in Lucerne in 2006. The book has since been translated into French (Ça et La), Spanish (Glenat) and Italian (Comma22). She has had a number of solo exhibitions locally and abroad (including in Switzerland and Germany) and regularly participates in local and international group exhibitions. Her work is widely sought after and has been collected by private, corporate and museum collectors from all over the world.
De Villiers is best known for her paintings, works on paper and comic book illustrations. Her work is playful and irreverent with a gloriously dark subtext. Her almost childlike style belies a depth to the two-dimensional subject matter, which touches on keen insights into human nature. Anamorphic characters permeate her work like archetypal figures from a mix-match of different and invented mythologies. Narrative also forms an important part of De Villiers’ work, as well as a wry, incidental sense of humour. In recent years De Villiers’ creative work has expanded from the printed book to include large scale paintings, series of original works on paper, limited editions prints and sculptures.