She wears tall boots. U-Huh.

[Musings on the Tkay Maidza illustration]

I used to draw spot illustrations for an Adelaide music magazine years ago along with weekly cartoons for a regional newspaper. It was a lot of fun.. the drawing part, but not the deadlines.

Cartooning requires an antenna for exaggerating the obvious. It’s a super power I still carry with me and is a neat trick in helping steer anyone looking at a drawing to recognise who it is they are looking at.

I know Tkay Maidza’s parents. They used to live in the same city. Gifted people in their own right and very musical minded.

I met Tkay on only a few occasions but she was a young school aged student at that time and making quite a name for herself in sport, namely the tennis court. Now of course she is making a racquet of a different kind in the world of hiphop.. holding serve recording, grand slamming music awards and touring the world circuit.

I have a vast appreciation (aka consumption) of all kinds of music and although not as well versed as many in hiphop, I know a little about the genre and certainly own a few records (CDs). My favourites being the Jazzmatazz albums of Guru (founding member of Gang Starr) and an old album that Miles Davis worked on just before he passed called “Doo-Bop” with Easy Mo Bee. These days you can’t turn on the radio without hearing a hiphop track or at least music influenced by it. Like every form of music played (relentlessly) on radio.. there is good and bad.

Family connections aside, Tkay’s own brand of hiphop sounds good. Very good.

A young woman with the ability to shoot words, rhythm and rhyme out like an AK47 is destined for success. It’s also really heartening to see her being recognised by many for her individual style.. which I imagine is a hard thing in the “chew them up, spit them out” machine that is the music industry. She stands out, just like those boots.

Ok, let me switch lanes for a moment and put on my graphic arts hoodie.


I alluded to cartooning earlier right?

Apart from being interested in the music and career she began carving out, one thing that sparked my interest in creating an illustration of Tkay was seeing a lot of photos of her performing on stage and on video.

The boots she wore and still wears.. struck me as quite symbolic and individual.

I had this image in my head of her soles towering from a stage.. a reference of her own growing status in the music industry.

When I eventually created a thumbnail sketch on paper, I could see how the platform soles could be exaggerated into looking like skyscrapers or residential blocks of a city.

So that was the impetus really, right from the beginning. She wears tall boots.

From the initial sketch on paper I went straight to computer.

Using a digital palette and my standard tools (a Wacom tablet plus stylus), the illustration started out as a simple line drawing which I built up via charcoal.

Well, I say charcoal but it’s actually a digital charcoal “brush” which I created in PhotoShop. The “brush” mimics the look and feel of real charcoal and I actually  feel as if I’m drawing on paper or canvas just as I do with traditional media in my studio. In fact,  I sometimes lay a sheet of thin textured paper over my tablet to enhance further the feel of working on art paper. It also helps to “slow” the action a little of the stylus if that makes any sense.

From there I continue to think about additional digital collage and a lot of artistic licence. I completely made up the look of the dress for instance, although one of Tkays own motifs has been added to the front of the dress.

I drew and painted much of it with a M.O.B {Multitude Of Brushes} and took my reference of Tkays face from a combination of different photographs and adding the sunglasses towards the end.

Without getting too technical, there are also various layers that make up the illustration during the process prior to the flattened completed version(s) seen here.

These layers contain various elements or stages of the image as I progress.. making it easier to enhance, add, delete or make colour and tone adjustments as I go along. The solo spot light was a last minute addition along with the window light effects coming from the base of her platform boots.



What a lovely gift I have received in the mail today! Thanks to Tkay and her family I now have a huge reproduction print of the illustration I created – hand signed by Tkay herself!

This will be such nice memory of the piece to frame and hang in my studio.

Getting my hood on in the studio lol.. For Shizzle!

more information on Tkay visit 


About the Author:

Damn I hate writing this stuff but here goes..
I am a South Australian artist/image maker and love to work in various mediums (drawing, oil, acrylic, ink, pastel and mixed media) as well as utilising digital imagery, graphic design, photography and video.

My drawing practice was initially influenced as a young boy by the illustrative style and cartoons of Mad Magazine before having my mind blown later by the work of Robert Crumb, Goya, Michael Leunig, American illustrator Rick Griffin and Australian illustrator/ cartoonists like Bill Leak, Michael Leunig, Reg Mombassa and Shaun Tan. 

I  maintain a very active studio practice that includes a lot of procrastinating and then a little time creating solo work. I have participated in group shows within Australia and America and own a half fox terrier/half chihuahua named Lizzy, but I like our two cats better.

What else.. a few months ago I was commissioned  by The Benetton Foundation in Italy to paint a small work for their Imago Mundi Contemporary Australian Collection. The book of the collection will be out early February 2016 and there are plans for the collection to begin a tour in 2016.

To be serious for a moment, I should say there is a close nexus between my studio work and the commissions undertaken for corporate and publishing clients in Australia, Europe, and America.

A life-long love of music (I play in a band), has also led to prestigious graphic art commissions for music festivals, in Australia, Russia and America.. along with various CD/poster designs and magazine illustration and cover art.

Iam represented by the following galleries who are all probably wondering when the hell I am going to send more canvasses:

  • Dallas – Ross Akard Gallery
  • Sydney – Francis Keevill Gallery
  • New York – Charlatan Ink
  • Melbourne – Smart Artz Galley
  • Adelaide – Geoffrey Stapleton Gallery