I joined this great adventure called "life" in the Autumn of 1971, in the city of Cape Town, South Africa, the most beautiful place on earth.

Regrettably my birth did not co-inside with an extraordinary or inexplicable global phenomena. There was no Kryptonian meteor shower that left scientists baffled, no blazing bright star leading wise men and shepherds, no paparazzi hiding in the bushes outside the hospital ward, no news coverage and no fireworks. Despite this overwhelming lack of a proper welcome, it turned out to be a rather exciting and creative journey.

I was fortunate enough to grow up all over the country -Oudtshoorn, Smithfield, Malmesbury and Pietermaritzburg- which makes me truly, and proudly, South African.

Like any (geeky) pre-teenager I spent most of my childhood with my nose buried in comic books, with Archie, Asterix, Richie Rich and Andy Capp being among my favourites. The first ever movie I remember seeing was Superman The Movie starring Christopher Reeves and till this day the Man of Steel remains my greatest hero and inspiration.

At school it came as no surprise that I completely sucked at any organised sport that involved throwing, catching or chasing a ball and soon turned to the cultural side of extramural activities. According to a very reliable source (my mom) I was always occupying myself with some or other form of creative project. (And till this day I can keep myself entertained in front of a white wall). I especially loved drawing and many of my schoolbooks sported margins filled o the brim with sketches and illustrations.

It was only in High School, roundabout Grade10, when my passion for Cartooning and Illustration really took off. This was when two rather fortunate things happened:
1. Like any young artist I was frustrated with the lack of skill when it came to the correct execution of the Human Anatomy, but probably more so by the constant criticism which always tend to follow my amateurish sketches ("The arms are too long... The eyes are too far apart... too big... too this... too that").
2. The Simpsons first appeared on the small screen as short vignettes on the Tracey Ullman Show.
Lightning struck!
Inspired by Homer & Co I started to deliberately draw characters that were completely out of proportion. I made the eyes too big, the arms too long and the boobs large enough for it to have its own atmosphere.
In short, thanks to The Simpsons and sheer spite questionable art turned into great cartoons!

And what an incredible world Cartooning and Illustration opened up to me! It's a world where anything is possible. A world with no rules and no boundaries, where people can fly, animals can talk and one's imagination has no limits.

Meanwhile, back on earth, I finished school and set off to the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein to become a teacher. This plan lasted just about as long as microwave popcorn in my kitchen cupboard and I decided that true joy can only be found in pursuing a more creative career. Since I found myself operating within a very limited pool of "creative career" options, I opted for Graphic Design to fill the void and put food on the table. In 1997 I obtained my N.Dip.Graphic Design at the Central University of Technology and was also truly blessed by being a nominee in the Annual SDSA Design Achievers Awards.

With my CV typed and Diploma photocopied I started climbing, what turned out to be, a rather promising and eventful career in the Commercial Arts. Still based in the capital of the Free State, I worked in two prominent Design Houses under very talented Graphic Designers, one of which completely supported my cartooning abilities and provided me with many opportunities to develop this skill.

During this time I was introduced to Calvin & Hobbes and (to this day) frequently loose myself in the incredible technique, sheer talent and exquisite wit of Bill Watterson. I am completely inspired by his incorporation of full-page illustration with basic cartooning. The Design Industry, however, started to take its toll and after five years of mass production, unreasonable deadlines, overtime and idiotic changes to great designs, I woke up one morning knowing that the time has come to move on.

In 2003 I entered the academic side of Graphic Design as the Institutional Officer and Lecturer at a Design School in the Free State. Over the next three years I lectured at two private Design Schools as well as the Central University of Technology. I lectured in various subjects including the History of Graphic Design, Design Illustration, Applied Concepts & Visual Skills, Graphic Communications as well as the Software Programmes, Photoshop and Freehand. During this time I also started to present the odd Cartoon Workshop on the side. Because of the fact that I had to teach myself how to toon, I promised myself to one day pay it forward and help those who find themselves in a similar situation.

It was my main subject, though, the History of Graphic Design (which focussed on the History of 20th Century Art movements) that ignited a new Passion. I was (and still am) completely fascinated by the influence History has on art and found myself captivated by the origins of the Design elements I had been using blindly up to then. The concept that everything has indeed "been done before" intrigued me tremendously and I started to draw inspiration from those masters who, in a certain sense, "did it first". I am still greatly inspired and influenced by Art movements such as Art Nouveau (especially the meticulous organic detail in the works of Alfonso Mucha), and, of course, Pop Art (especially the bold, brightly coloured works of Roy Lichtenstein).

It was more or less during this time in my career that The CrissCrossStudio first saw the light. Overwhelmed by the fact that no discipline stands entirely alone my studio is dedicated to the "crisscrossing" of those disciplines I am fondest of: Painting, Illustration and Cartooning. And a new vision started taking shape. I imagined them big... really big…

Bloemfontein and I finally ran out of gas at the end of 2006 when, armed with the slogan, "Sometimes one just needs to jump and build your wings on the way down", I followed my heart back to the Mother City with one aim in mind: a Career in Creativity!

And it's here where the CCS found both its roots and its wings.

I spent the first seven years working as a Store Manager for a large Art Supply Store in the Western Cape, a gig that turned out to be quite the blessing. My day-job placed me right where the action was. I met the most amazing and inspiring artists, gained priceless knowledge about art-making, built up quite the extensive network, and made new friends. And then, of course, there was the Staff Discount! Oh, yes, one should mention the Staff Discount…I used it wisely and well.

Meanwhile, after-hours, once I was done playing Retail Roy for the day, Creativity continuously florished!!! Evenings, weekends, days off, they were all dedicated to working on and building "the dream". At one point even my car served as a studio as I drew, inked and "watercoloured" in the early morning hours between commuting and work.

In 2014 ToonSchool made its reappearance, all because of one single young lady's enthusiasm and eagerness to acquire the skill. So, in the beginning there was only one…
During the same year I also finally mustered up enough courage to take the inevitable leap from employed to self-employed!
Big decision…
Good times…

These days I pretty much explore everything that can originate from a pencil.
I paint some, I draw some, I toon some.

I love what I do.

I love how I do it.

I love being Creative.

And I am truly, truly blessed.

May the Creative Force be with You!!!
V.