Interview: Russell Abrahams breaks down his influences for the adidas Flagship Store

We caught up with illustrator, Russells Abrahams, to get his insight on the inspiration behind the illustration for the FNB Stadium Tower. Russell takes us through this creative process when creating illustrations, his preferred style, and what feels like home to him when he’s in his element.

When creating an illustration for the FNB Stadium Tower, what did you have in mind? 

The main focus was to create a piece that would inspire all those who look at it. It is really a message of hope that takes inspiration from the amazing South Africans who have been depicted and adorned on the tower. Using my signature style and bright/bold colours, I really wanted to make something beautiful for all those who see it.

Did the location of the tower have any influence on how the illustration came out?

Definitely. Soweto is a place buzzing with energy and talent. With the words impossible is nothing spanning over 30 high, it’s really a message to the young and old to always go for gold. Seeing familiar faces on the tower lends to this idea and I really hope it inspires some of SAs next superstars! 

You are known for having bright and bold illustrations, why is your preferred style of illustration?

The main objective of my work is to always bring joy and hope to the viewer. I gravitate towards the idea of using simple/basic shapes to create my subject matter. The pairing between simplistic shapes and bold colours has this sense of childlike wonder that I hope brings a smile to the audience as we navigate these strange and dark times. I hope my work serves as a beacon of optimism.

How do you choose which illustration/design to choose when you are collaborating?

I work quite linear. My process is always the same. From research to sketch and lastly to final crafting. The research and sketch phase is always the hardest as it’s here that I try to solve the brief and deliver the correct work to the client. Working closely with the adidas team made this process so much easier and it really has been such a beautiful collaboration process from beginning to end. 

Where do you draw inspiration when creating work?

I’d say from pop culture and being surrounded by so many talented artists in SA. We really do live in a beautiful country and the illustration community is such a supportive and colourful one. My friends and peers inspire me to always push the boundaries of my own work and I hope that I do the same for them. We live in a very vibrant and fun country and there really is inspiration on every corner!

The adidas film, ‘Store as Home’ focuses on the concept ‘Home’. How do you curate a space that feels like ‘Home’ when creating and more importantly what feels like home to you when creating?

When painting the kids mural, the adidas Sandton Flagship Store really felt like home for those 7/8 days. There was this energy of everyone really coming together to build this home ground for the adidas lovers of SA. It feels like home because there’s a section for everyone. From sports lovers to artists. It’s a space where all will feel welcomed and I’m just excited for customers to experience a space where all is included.

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