I meet up with Quentin on a balmy Cape Town day in his native Woodstock. The cafe is noisy over lunch time and we have to talk loud to hear each other above the chatter. “My mom says I’ve always been a doodler,” he says over his cappuccino, “growing up, the telephone pad was always full of scribbles when I finished chatting to my friends on the phone. It’s a subconscious process.” His career as an artist came about almost accidentally when he flipped through an old notebook, realizing that there are more than 200 pages of creative doodles in them. When he put them together on paper, his friends and family loved it. And as with many successful creatives, he asked the question: “Where can this go?”
Trained as a graphic designer in his home town of Pretoria, Horn cut his teeth in the industry working for various design agencies and later starting his own studio. Since moving down to Cape Town in 2013 he had a brief stint in a local agency, but decided to explore the creative within instead.
These days he considers himself an artist first, but only since his work was discovered last year. After showing some prints at a tattoo convention, he got his first exhibition at Field Office in Woodstock in 2014. A few more exhibitions followed and then he approached Vamp in Salt River to stock his prints.
The image of Mandela was the piece that really got him noticed, having finished it about 6 months before the icon’s death. As with many artists on the cusp of greatness, Horn now has to decide which route he wants to take: how commercial is too commercial? As he rightly points out, when you see an artist’s work in all the usual places around town, it becomes watered down, it loses impact. His prints are not limited editions because he wants them to remain accessible, but a limited range is potentially on the cards because of them becoming more sought after.
He also does a lot of commissioned work which is his real joy, incorporating personal details of the clients into the work. “I ask them to give me something of themselves that I can work with” he says. The exquisite detail going into a commissioned piece is meticulous, a quality that is evident in the time it takes to complete. Even though the final piece is put together digitally, it still takes a few weeks to complete a typical A3 artwork.
His process is unique and honest: The doodles are either intentional based on a commission or he uses the cache that he has built up from his note books. They are scanned individually and then grouped in folders on his computer. Once a subject for a new work has been decided, the doodles are positioned individually to make up the final art work.
He plays around with colour by means of bright watermarks. “I will also start experimenting with a friend’s letterpress. The work should be more adventurous”. Occasionally he does the entire piece by hand, without using the scanned images. This of course is a much more intensive process, resulting in a completely unique piece.
“Cape Town inspires me.” As a runner, he spends a lot of time outdoors and finds his inspiration in the fauna and flora along the way. “I use a lot of animal and plant references.” Music from his childhood in the early 70’s are also a great influence, as are famous political figures. “I have a long list of things I still want to draw,” he says. And thankfully so, I say.