Phathu Nembilwi

Phathu Nembilwi is the founder and creative director of Phathudesigns, focused on visual communication, illustration and animation. Originally from the small town of Thohoyandou in Limpopo, where she started drawing and creating art from a young age, Phathu now resides in Johannesburg – a move she made after studying graphic design at Tshwane University of Technology. 

“I draw inspiration from my own life and those around me, including the rich and colourful cultures in South Africa,” she says of her general subject matter and style of illustration. “I love telling stories through pictures.”

Besides her work for 5 Compassionate Communities, illustrating the Unexpected Opportunities NPO, Phathu is the creator of Joy From Africa to the World’s overall campaign look and feel for 2021. For this, she illustrated people of all ages and races enjoying different areas of the V&A Waterfront neighbourhood, in a joyful colour palette, filled with gorgeous patterns. The illustrations speak to the campaign’s purpose of being a journey of change and compassion. Phathu has illustrated various compassionate activities, with characters caring for others and for the planet. 

“I loved capturing all the people talking, laughing, sharing and celebrating life at the Waterfront,” she says of her happy illustrations that represent the myriad visitors to this part of Cape Town. “My work usually shows diverse people doing different daily activities, so this project was perfect for my illustrative style. The brief gave me space to explore and let my creativity shine through.”

Phathu also created five illustrations to represent the good work being done by Unexpected Opportunities. “The organisation’s love, care and nurturing is so inspiring,” she says, “and shows that a little goes a long way. I hope my illustrations motivate people to contribute and volunteer.”  

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