Karlien de Villiers was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1975. She studied Graphic Design and Illustration at Stellenbosch University and started her career as a designer at Garth Walker’s Orange Juice Design Studio at Ogilvy & Mather advertising agency in Cape Town. In 2006 she received an MA in Information Design from Pretoria University. She was a Lecturer in Illustration and Design at Stellenbosch University from 2006 to 2017, and currently lectures part-time in Design, Illustration and Art Direction at The Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography.
Karlien de Villiers began making art and comics in the final decades of the Apartheid regime in South Africa. She created a graphic novel entitled Ma Mère était une très belle femme (My Mother was a beautiful woman), which was published in German, French, Italian and Spanish.
De Villiers’ work has been published and featured in Le Monde (FR), Internazionale (IT), Bodoï (FR), Canal BD (FR), Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH), Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE), Der Tagesspiegel (DE), Between 10and5 (ZA), Bitterkomix (ZA), i-Jusi Magazine (ZA), ComicArtAfrica (ZA), Artthrob (ZA), Bookdash (ZA), Art South Africa (ZA), Mail & Guardian (ZA), Business Day (ZA), VISI Magazine (ZA), ELLE Decor (ZA).
Throughout her career, her art has retained dark, comical, and narrative elements. She works in a mode of portrait illustration across various mediums, including mixed media on paper, watercolour, acrylic, sculpture, and printmaking. Each medium imparts its own distinctive features, but the cast of naively rendered figures remains constant, exerting their tragicomic pathos and a prevailing sense of doom.