WetINK Quarterly (Summer) – Featuring: Xee Summer
“Summer is my happy space,” says graphic designer Xia Carstens, who goes by the moniker Xee Summer. “I thought it would be a good pseudonym because I want people to feel warm when they look at my work.” Her art does just that, with mustard, pink, orange and comforting blue tones appearing as the main thread in her 60s and 70s-inspired patterns and illustrations.
Although art is a hobby for the Capetonian, who is the senior graphic designer at OneDayOnly, this side hustle is ingrained in her lifestyle. “Some people do yoga or run. This is my fix. It’s my form of expression and has become like therapy for me – taking one or two hours every day to play around, forget about everything in the world and do something for myself.”
She likens her Instagram feed to a daily journal. “I can remember what I was feeling when I look back at my work. I’m not good with words, so this is my story, like a visual diary.”
Xee’s fascination with the psychedelic era and the trippy visuals that accompanied it stems from her father, who she calls a “bit of a hippie and non-conformist”. She, too, has always tried to do what others are not doing. “I’m trying to find ways of expression that I don’t see in my circles and around the people I follow. When things become mainstream, I tend to swim the other way. I don’t ever want to put myself in a box; I want to keep evolving while being true to myself.”
– Tracy Chemaly
We recently caught up with Xee for a quick Q&A :
When you were at school did you have anyone who inspired you to take up art?
My family was pretty into art and music. My dad really supported us pursuing art. We were and still are very big into art in all it’s forms. I never had a moment where I thought I would be doing it because it’s always been a part of my life, so it felt natural and effortless and we would draw and paint everyday and I thought everyone did when I was little. It’s always felt so natural.
What is your favourite medium and why?
I’ve been using digital mediums for the last. Couple of years but I am very excited to start oil painting again. My eyes get so sore at night so I am amped to get back to basics!
To date what is your favourite project/piece that you have worked on?
Probably a carpet I designed for a 60s reproduced bowling alley in Nashville Tennessee.
Do you have any projects/exhibitions in the pipeline?
I always have a few in the pipeline – most of which I can’t share until they have been released publicly. Otherwise I am working on my own art and products in my spare time.
What is your studio set up like? Do you prefer a quiet space or do like a bit of noise and chaos?
I don’t like working around other people. I need to be alone. I get distracted very easily so I usually have music playing and I zone in. Clean (overly organised) minimal space, else I can’t work. I have OCD and am a bit compulsive, so it’s better if I’m alone anyway.
If you could swap a piece of work with anyone who would that be?
Probably John Zabawa – I love his work so much. HUGE inspiration of mine.
Xee’s work will be on display at Wetink Cape Town from 12th January – 20th March 2023
Check out Xee’s Instagram @xee_summer
Prints available 📍 www.xeesummer.co.za