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Kim van Vuuren Playing is the most important; don’t be too serious

Graphic designer Kim van Vuuren uses her intriguing fifty forms project as a way to artistically express herself outside client work. Twice a week, the Capetonian artist makes a composition, not allowing herself to spend more than a few hours on each piece.

It has turned into a wonderful collection of works that display a well-considered balance between abstract forms, geometric shapes, colors and patterns. The artist aims for 100 prints by the end of the year (originally it was just 50, hence the name fifty forms), to then turn it into an exhibition.

Kim takes her own photography of Cape Town and amends and deforms it in Photoshop and Illustrator. The city offers her luscious green nature, steep mountains and parched scrub areas, but also urban features like skyscrapers.

“In every piece I try to bring that element of architecture, composition, form and structure, and then have it play off against very natural, organic shapes and forms. I think in every piece there’s this beautiful sort of balance between those two aspects,” she says.

For example, her piece Little Karoo, named after an area in the Western Cape, was inspired by the heat. “It’s sort of desert; very hot, and melty. That’s why the upper shape is melting into the landscape.” The blue tones in the image come from a morphed photo of a tiny puddle she found on a hike there.

Although the pieces could stand alone, they really become powerful as a collection. The project is very diverse, yet there is also a strong coherence between the works. That’s something Kim pursued quite deliberately.

“The more pieces I did, there were always some elements I’d pull through. Whether it was a texture, or just one of those metallic sticks. In that way I created a similar narrative throughout all of them,” she says.

Some titles, such as Aurora, Poppy Fields or Lovers, make you curious for their background story. But, Kim says there’s usually not a grand idea behind them. The artist starts designing and sees where it goes. Leaving room for chance is very important to her.

Funnily, other people do see stories in the series. The human brain seems incapable of not creating narratives from visual cues. Buyers also make their own unique combinations when they purchase prints of the project.

Kim is convinced it’s important for all creatives to explore different areas outside of their commissioned work. “I’ve learned so much,” she says, “I’ve become very confident in my own craft. I was actually, really terrified of color when I first started designing.”

fifty forms allowed her to experiment and artistically express herself. “Just play and push yourself. Playing is the most important; don’t be too serious.”

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