Featured Illustrator

Fran Labuschagne

July 2018

Freelance Illustrator & Animator, Fran Labuschagne — in her own words — is a classic “I’ve been drawing since I can remember” kind of creative. She tells us about her make-believe studio called Fijnbosch, the pros of listening to audiobooks while you work, and we discuss shapes and textures as we dissect her illustration style.

What are some of your earliest creative memories and what lead you into design?

I’m a classic “I’ve been drawing since I can remember” kind of creative, but it wasn’t until my third year in university that I discovered, to my delight, that being an Illustrator is an actual possibility. I am also extremely fortunate with amazing parents, who supported me to become a person who draws pictures for a living. Thanks Mom and Dad (shameless shoutout).

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

I’m not entirely sure how I developed my style and for a long time I didn’t even feel like I had a style. I guess it was just a matter of practice. I’ve been working as an illustrator for 4 years and over the years it just kinda morphed into what it is today.

I think personality also played a big role in the development of my style. The humoristic undertone is definitely due to my own tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. I’m also quite the perfectionist, so I like perfectly round corners and geometric shapes. I try to break that up a little with organic shapes and subtle rough textures, as I have a soft side to me as well.

As far as tips go, I’d say just make as many things as you can. The more you create the easier it is to point out your own strengths and weaknesses, and over time your personality will seep through the cracks.

What are your three must-read design books/blogs/podcasts and why?

Podcast: Raw Milk by Beth Kirby

This is a podcast by Beth Kirby, a lifestyle photographer and entrepreneurial genius. She talks candidly with other creatives about the struggles of being a creative. It’s brilliant, unfiltered and funny too. Beth shines a light on topics that sometimes get swept under the carpet and talks openly about it. This has been so helpful to me. As a new kid on the block, I’ll take any help I can get, and this podcast definitely provides just that.

Book: 12 Rules for Life: An antidote to Chaos by Jordan Peterson

This is a must read in my opinion. It’s not exactly a design book, but a book that get’s the brain thinking- which I think is extremely important in the development of creativity.

Audio book: Any fictional book

I’ve recently started listening to Harry Potter, all 7 of them. As an independent creative, running a one-man-show, it can sometimes get quite isolated, and I spend a lot of time in my own company. Enter fictional audiobooks. I find it so interesting how I can listen to a story (and form a picture in my head) while simultaneously focussing on work. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who also get’s tired of their own company from time to time.


It’s important to push yourself creatively, but I think it’s equally, if not more important, to remember that we are only the creators of our work and shouldn’t measure our self-worth by what we create.


What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?

"You are not your work” - Future Fran. This is something I’ve only recently discovered. Obvious it may seem, we can sometimes forget that we are not our work, we are only the creators of our work.

I’m not sure if I’m the only one, but it’s hard for me to be satisfied with the work I create. This is something I am working on, but liking my own work has just always been a struggle for me. It’s only when I remind myself that there is more to me than the work I create, that the feeling of dissatisfaction subsides. It’s important to push yourself creatively, but I think it’s equally, if not more important, to remember that we are only the creators of our work and shouldn’t measure our self worth by what we create.

What do you look for in a great client?

Big budgets! Kidding. No, I think the thing I value most in a client is trust.

I like working with clients who trust me to do my job well and are open to my opinions. It’s very exciting to have creative freedom on a project and to have someone give me freedom to create work that I enjoy and feel proud of is very valuable.

There are certainly other situations where clients have an idea, and I act as their hands to make that idea come to life, and there is definitely room for that too. However, I enjoy the projects where I can really get stuck into the entire process - I find that those are the times I do my best work.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Yes, I’ve recently started a make-believe studio called Fijnbosch. I get bored VERY easily, so working in one style, in an attempt at cohesiveness, will inevitably leave me feeling bored. So, I decided to create a space where I can explore a different side of my creativity. It is a little softer and more feminine aesthetic and I’m enjoying the change of scenery immensely.

Website: franlabuschagne.com

Instagram: @franlabuschagne / @studiofijnbosch


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