Marian Bantjes


I’m Canadian, and I love being Canadian. I love being self-deprecating even though Americans see it as a sign of weakness. I love being politically left of center (actually, quite far left, if you must know). I love being honest, and nice and polite and caring and kind. (Although sometimes I really do wish I could be a total bitch without feeling guilty about it.) I’m amused by my own respect for authority and rule-following instincts.

Marian Bantjes. I have heard about her in a mild, faint way at first – I’ve seen, I don’t remember where, her drawn type made of sugar. It said: “Indestructible”, done in a manner of creating a mandala, only in sugar, white sugar on white background. I am soft on ambiguous and authentic and that piece stayed in my mind as the most original creative concept at time.

"Indestructible" by Marian Bantjes. Source:

Later on I came around  Stephan Sagmaister’s  book Things I have learned in my life so far, and there she was again, with another sugar mandala. My curiosity was exploding: “Who is Marian Bantjes?”  Not even a month later I had a privilege to attend her lecture at Typo Berlin Conference in 2008, and was, as we all in the audience were, completely enchanted by her original, delicate and intricate work.

Design Ignites Change, detail. Source:

It wasn’t surprising when she revealed that her inspiration for her drawn, decorative Bildsatz artworks has Islamic roots. Islam forbids any depictions of God, so Islamic art is about arabesque and Arabic script. The unending flow of calligraphic lettering and similarly no-border geometric pattern. Those two visual language principles in our western eyes, sealed with iconography, might seem plainly decorative. In Islamic view though they express the infinite and unlimited presence of God. The harmony of the world.

So even if Marian itself recognizes herself as a political subject of far-left, I say her work, if we want that or not, reveals certain spirituality. How would you explain the state of mind of solitary hours spent in drawing an artwork of Marian Bantjes merit? Meditation, wouldn’t you agree? We creators and artists, in one way or another, consciously or subconsciously, are aware of a force of creativity. We are driven by it, we are a tool of that benevolent force, even if we ourselves would never admit that.

Design Ignites Change. Source:

Design Ignites Change. Source:

Design Ignites Change is a collection of Bantjes’ laser cut posters which I consider to be her best work so far.
She is currently working on her own book for Thames&Hudson publishing house.
You can find her on:

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