On Medicine & Animation: Interview with Kabelo Maaka
Kabelo Maaka, also known as Cabblow is an award-winning 2D animator and illustrator from South Africa and the co-founder of Cabblow Studios. She founded the animation studio with her mother, Dr Tshepo P. Maaka. She’s one of the pioneering African women in animation and was one of the continental finalists at the Nairobi edition of Animation du Monde Pitch competition last year with her project, The Fam. This year, her film Three Teaspoons of Sugar was screened at Annecy International Animation Festival and has made the official selection for the Accra Animation Film Festival 2020.
African Digital Art published a super insightful interview with her, part of which we’ve reposted here.
ADA: Let us begin by getting to know you Cabblow. Can you please tell us more about yourself, where you’re from and how you began your journey into animation?
I think I’ll start with my name. My name is Kabelo Maaka. On the internet I go by “Cabblow” and my animation students call me “Miss K”. I work as the Creative Director of my company Cabblow Studios. It’s a Johannesburg-based studio that creates medical animation, short films, series and illustration.
I am from Johannesburg, South Africa. I grew up in a fairly quiet suburb as an only child with just my mom and I went to St Mary’s school, Waverley an all-girls private school from grade 1 till grade 12. The name “Cabblow” is a play on my name Kabelo. It was a nickname I had in high school. I have an Honours degree in Animation and Screenwriting and I also had the wonderful opportunity to attend the International Summer School of Character Animation at Gobelins L’Ecole de L’Image.
Like most kids I loved animation growing up, but unlike most kids I never outgrew animation. The more I watched it the more I loved it. I have also been drawing my whole life. When my mother was a younger medical doctor most weekends were spent making sure she had an opportunity to rest from long hospital calls, but that was ok for me because I would keep myself entertained by drawing. One thing we used to do a lot was rent DVDs over the weekend.
And to be honest, I preferred watching DVDs over going to the cinema because of the “bonus features” section on most animation DVDs. I loved seeing “making of” interviews, deleted scenes (that were in storyboard form) and the “how to draw [insert Disney character here]” segments. We used to rent DVDs all the time before the rental stores died down. It was through those DVD bonus features that I learned that Animation was created by actual people (not magic) and it was something that I wanted to do.
Fast-forward to 2020 and we are now in our third year running an animation business with my mother – Dr Tshepo P. Maaka. She is my business partner and a medical doctor of 26 years. She heads up Business Development at Cabblow Studios getting new clients for us and giving our medical content actual clinical authenticity.
Watch the trailer for 3 Teaspoons of Sugar, an Annecy interview with Kabelo and her animation showreel below.