Heidi Chisholm


Brooklyn, NY

I'm Heidi Chisholm, a South African designer, art director and illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY. I wish to infuse every day with a multicolor, pattern-clashing je ne sais quoi.

“But I swear the trees give me energy.”

Any person who really helped you in your awesome artistic journey?

Yes, a lot of people, but the one who stands out most is my friend Peet Pienaar. We started a small design studio in Cape Town when I was 29 years old. He was instrumental in the way I think about illustration — simple, bold, graphic, often something sweet but always with a kick. He inspired me to look at my own continent (Africa) in a new, fresh way, and we created a design language that was heavily based on illustration.

Listen to music while you work? Anything special in your work space that unleashes your creative juices?

Am I the only person who listens to NPR, Brain Lehrer to be specific, instead of music to get the juices flowing? I mostly zone out and don't necessarily follow the stories, his voice just makes me calm and it makes me feel like I belong. I also love jazz. And if I could choose, I would just listen to jazz when I listen to music, but I share my studio, so I can't!!

What do you do when you need a break?

I go for a walk. I live next to the park (lucky me) and (my kids tease me for this) but I swear the trees give me energy.

Did you have a magic moment when you knew you wanted art to be your life?

I’ve known since I was very little that the (only) thing that made me special was that I could draw, so I kinda always knew that would be what I would do. What I didn't realize was that I would become a designer. In fact, I had no idea what a designer did. When I was 18 I went to see the university that I wanted to go to. A design student took me around and showed me the fine arts department and then the design department. She told me that the design department is much cooler than the fine
arts department. I made my decision there and then based on that comment! I mean, what's worse than not being cool?!

Where do you work? What’s your workspace like? Any objects you’ve had a long time?

I have a painting that was in my grandmother's house. It is a dreamy, saturated (on the verge of kitsch) South African landscape. I remember looking at this painting as a little kid and getting lost in it.