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The Elusive Kenyan Web Designer

One thing that I have yet to come across in my travels and meetings around Nairobi, is anyone who knows a good homegrown Kenyan graphic designer. It’s really interesting to me. There has to be someone in town who has some Photoshop skills… right?

There are plenty of artistic people in Kenya, so is it because these people don’t transfer that drawing skill to the screen? Is there a disconnect between computers and artists here?

I’m at a loss. Someone help me out here. Point me in the direction of a top notch Kenyan graphic designer, or explain why I can’t find one.

56 Comments

  1. its rather hard to explain this gap but I think its because many people have not been able to transform web development skills into quick cash .thats why they shy away from this field . Indeed the web design business is yet to pick up most Internet Service Providers have had a tendancy to shave off this arm from their businesses and the resulting startups have not been that promising

    You can find good photoshop designers over at DotSavvy ,metrocomia and Macromdedia gurus at Fadzter

  2. check out http://www.web-fundi.com. very talented young designers.

  3. I have met quite a few and used to work with them when I was in Kenya.They may not be too many but they do exist they are just hard to find!And there are some outstanding ones too!

  4. Welcome back to Kenya!

    Check out gichingiri.com … for a great graphic designer who does web design

  5. sorry I should have included the link http://www.gichingiri.com

  6. I have to disagree with you. My brother is a photoshop pro.
    So are most of his friends. They started by working at Graphics/Media houses in Kenya, but have since left (for studies and work abroad). My contention is that I know atleast three young Kenyan kids who obtained very gainful employment in the US, based on design skills that they honed in Kenya. These highly creative guys have also won major design competitions in the US.

  7. Good input guys. I wasn’t stating that there are no Kenyan graphic/web designers, it was that I just couldn’t find them. I knew that there had to be some out there. The artistic talent is here, it’s just hard to find in the web field is all.

    Thanks for the links.

  8. Eric,
    You should check out Matthew’s work. He’s done a lot of our stuff for our AyoAfrica (http://AyoAfrica.com) eCommerce web portal. His Flash skillz are sick, too. You can reach him at: “Mattkngugi [at] yahoo.com”
    Wait till you see when the other parts of the site are fully operational!

    C u l8tr!!

  9. Hi Eric,

    Funny you should mention this… there are quite a number of exceptional designers doing their magic on the digital canvas.
    However, they are indeed quite “hidden” and spend the better half of their time doing all things design & less time on their marketing/business side of things… (true artists).

    Can put together some links for you…

    🙂

  10. Thanks to Mama Mia for the vote of confidence! Although “young” is a compliment. But really what frustrates us designers is that the Kenyan market is simply very immature, and we find ourselves designing for peanuts. Tough market to be in. Guys will happily pay 50K for a tiny newspaper advert that will be seen by a few people, but talk to them about 500K for a kick-ass website, and you can simply forget it!

  11. re: dotsavvy- i know that site was actually built by Fadzter when he used to work there… they’re still around but their design skills have dropped a lot… very visible from their latest projects.

  12. Eric,
    interesting you should ask. av been seeing some crazy stuff done by kenyan designers. much respect for ma man Faddy, lots of inspiration, especially when it comes to Flash stuff,

    Interesting upcoming Design event will highlight some of the best design minds in kenya. check this. http://www.thedesignevent.com/

  13. Theus, by “the author”, I’m guessing you mean me. I’ve been looking for designers by asking others web developers within Nairobi. Also, remember that I never claimed to be a designer, I’m not – I hack my own designs together, but I would never mistake myself for a designer. However, I can tell good web design when I see it since I’ve been in this field for a long time.

    What I was asking for in this post is some leads for the good designers that I know must be out there. It just didn’t make sense to me that there was such good artists in Kenya, yet I couldn’t find a good web designer.

    @Nico, thanks for the link to The Design Event in Nairobi. I’m sure we’ll see some great stuff come out of that.

    Lastly, if there is a good web designer in Kenya, or somewhere else in Africa, who is looking for some work. I have a project that I need a top quality designer on, and that relatively quickly. I pay well too – because after all, we know that design follows money. 🙂

    Send an email to me with some links to your work at hash [at] thisdomain.com

  14. You can also check out Intrepid Data Systems. Some good stuff there too. http://www.intrepidkenya.com. I think that there is excellent potential here in Kenya in a big way.

    Talked of an association? Let’s hear it out… 🙂

  15. @ Theus, I understand. 🙂 Us internet marketing types have been around for a while now, it’s just that the mainstream is catching on so there has been an even greater influx of people into the industry over the last couple of years. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, because these are the guys that bring the money.

    @ Centaur, thanks for the link. I’ll check them out.

    @ MK, I just joined up. I’ll see you in Google Groups. I hope you guys are planning to meet up live in Nairobi as well. There’s nothing quite like face-to-face.

    @ Nico, I’ve been dealing with clients for a long time now, especially when it comes to building web sites and web applications – so I speak with some experience here.

    I’ve found that the best thing is taking each new client on as an educational experience. You have to prove to them that what you know really is best (and you do have to know your stuff). From there, it’s always an iterative process getting to the final product. Part of the job is them trusting your design skills and understanding of their particular needs and goals. The final part is you actually holding them to decisions that they made earlier in the design process.

    Design is tough, because designers are artists and the people they’re designing for usually aren’t. There’s always a bit of tension between the two camps. I guess it comes down to the relationship at the end – the closer and more in touch you are with each other, the less communication difficulties will arise and generally a better design as well.

  16. In the posts above, most of the good ones I know are covered. Have a look also at http://www.equestnewmedia.com, by a dude called Levi. He is also quite good at design and flash stuff. Both he and Fadzter have been quite an inspiration in Kenyan Web design work for a lot of us over a couple of years. For simple clean sites, also check out http://www.sawasawa.com owned by a dude called Kaggz.

    As for the web design potential in Kenya, it has been around for quite a while, but one of the problems has been clients asking designers to produce websites based on their company brochures – that logic has just never made sense to me – i guess cause marketing for lots of our corporate guys basically revolves around print advertising, radio and tv. Very few of them have taken time to understand the dynamics behind using the web as a business tool that needs to be unique in its own way. Of course once they decide they want a brochure, they then expect to pay the same price as printing brochures cost, something like 10k. It goes like this, “si you will just copy the same design from the brochure and then simply add my name and picture, why should it cost so much?”. Of course after you produce the ‘web brochure’, the client then shows you a kick-ass website and asks you why you cannot do one like that one just to make his website unique. That my friend is one of the reasons why most of our designers will make simple websites commensurate to what kenyan clients want to pay and leave the well established companies struggle in getting clients willing to pay the big bucks.

    Anyway, that’s my peni mbili on this as I can write tonnes on it. Wish you the best in your quest.

  17. Bullshit!

    I hate peeps like ou who make authoritative, broad, sweepign comments based on crappy facts. What do you mean there is no one in Kenya with photoshop skills?

    Where did you look?

    There is a fucking dedicated school for this shit… kulgraphics. there are at least no less than a hundred people i know, inclduing me who deal in this shit day in and day out.

    Again… bullshit.

  18. Cybers00p, calm down and take a close look at both the posting and the comments. You’ll see that I’m not claiming that there aren’t any Kenyan graphic designers, I’m asking for help trying to find one. I just couldn’t find you or your counterparts is all.

  19. I am doing a research assignment in Graphic Design here at my school in Kansas City. I want to do this paper on a Kenyan Graphic Designer, but I don’t know how to go about finding one. Does anyone know someone with a good story and great talent, maybe its you, maybe someone you know, I want to know. Please any info on someone with a lot of info to make an impressive report send to me if u would. Thanks. V. Ngigi

  20. hey.
    graphic designers do exist in kenya.the only thing is they settle for peanuts so as to make a quick shilling.this is not right at all.as graphic designers we should carry ourselves with utmost pride because we create and make things and products look good.that should be our pride.let us not let our talent be explioted for meagre pay.its for us to build this industry, and we cant do that by simply accepting whatever is placed on the table for us… if it not worth the bargain, its not worth the pain.designing is an art and art is priceless.think of it that way and for sure you wont accept cheap deals from people or companies wanting to take advantage of us.personally i dont take anything less than 50,000 ksh in any design work.that has been my standard and the clients i have dealt with and still deal with know that and respect that.iam a self taught designer and presentation manager for three companies now. i’m only 21 years…actually turning 21 in april and i aint going to stop at nothing to uplift and get this industry respected and honoured.this is one of the most lucrative industries, but we fail to put a worthy price tag to it.i am making it in this industry and i will make it…i came from a nothing to a something all by will power and personal respect for the work i’ve done.

  21. hey Vonda Ngigi?
    i believe i’m one graphic designer with a story to tell.if you will be interested please email me on wilson.muhia@xpose.co.ke. Xpose Entertainment is the company i work for as their graphic designer.

  22. CALL FOR ENTRIES

    ‘NON violence against girls and women’

    The Humanitarian International Design Organisation (HIDO) is working on an awareness project together with Regional Network on Child Protection (RENOCP), Nairobi, Kenay and would like to invite designers/creative people to create a poster to promote ‘END violence against girls and women’. This poster will be distributed in schools in African rural areas, starting in Kenya.

    We are looking for a graphically attractive poster with a dynamic and inviting message to attract girls/women in different African Cultures to discuss these gender based violence issues. With this poster we would like to motivate girls to contact the local organisation RENOCP for further help and support. The poster needs to incorporate the slogan ‘END violence against girls and women’.

    Look here for more details, rules and guidelines.
    http://www.humanidesign.org/contestposter.html

    Hope we can involve some Kenyan graphic designers in this contest. Counting on you guys!!!

    For more info you can contact us on:
    contest@humanidesign.org

  23. Check out for Mr Karumba from KEMNET, this guy is the hilliest in town, Men!

  24. Guess designers are there but the only problem is the connection. This website will be a viable tool to bridge these designers.

  25. The Blogs are turning out to be very well-liked. The increasing speed of blog’s demand will confuse your mind. Why? For what is so? Why does a person like to grow into a blog writer? Bloggers also need nice visitors to read their written blogs,and i hope the same thing for this blog.

  26. As Kenyan graphic designers… you might be able to help me. I am looking for a good printer in and around Nairobi. Is there anyone out there who has some tips/contact details?

    Hope someone can help me soon.
    My email is: alexandra@humanidesign.org

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  28. designers are there just that maybe they dont know how to ‘place’ themselves strategically. this may be a good opportunity for them.
    I know one…n i think i just met another.

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    cialis http://cialis-2007.blogspot.com
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  31. I noticed you had already recieved quite a good number of replies on this topic, Kenya does have exceptional good designers, Ideas Africa is a leading firm in graphic design on web based solution, the link is http://www.ideasafrica.com, They profile has grown over the last 3 years to be one of the most outsource web design company in east Africa, Recently they introduced search engine optimization product and I am totally enjoying the service myself, mainly because of their use of web standards, but well.. check out the blog link and draw your own conclusion.

  32. I noticed I made a mistake on the link above, http://www.ideasafrica.com that is the correct link.

  33. Hi,

    I am a student at MIT and I am going to Moshi/Arusha/Nairobi to do international development work. I am hoping to print some brochures there, does anyone know about how much it’d cost (Letter sized, double sized with color, tri-fold).

    Any help would be appreciated!

    Shirley

  34. hey all am a designer to but still underground.working on some deadly projects.anyway my first project was http://www.ujumbe.net/denise to know more mail me.and if you think you can do better speak out.

  35. hey am freelance graphic designer as well as web designer very ready to work. anyone out there hows willing to share ideals.
    let me know kennethkibiegoATyahoo.com

  36. hey all am a designer to but still underground.working on some deadly projects.anyway my first project was http://www.ujumbe.net/rk to know more mail me.and if you think you can do better speak out.

  37. You can visit our website http://www.obakunta.com/index.html to see a really cool graphic design company in Nairobi designing for some really tough Clientelle worldwide. lick on http://www.obakunta.com/portfolio/design/index.html to view our portfolio. We really do work, I think

  38. Say what?
    We have alot of young designers in Nairobi.
    Am a designer to see ma designs you can visit One Stop Youth Resource Centre or Just visit Nairobits at The Godown Art Centre and see how great young Kenyans are in design.

  39. haha tell me about it. its flipping difficult to find info on kenyan designers, particularly traditional style designs.

  40. Check these guys, they are fantastic http://www.kemnet.co.ke

  41. Been doing graphic design for quite a while now…
    …thought it’s about time that I started pushing my web design side.

    http://www.gasheru.com

  42. Hello all,

    I need a website done for my new business. It will be an ecommerce website with some other additions. I don’t have too much money budgeted for it. However, it is a long term project for someone who is interested in freelance work. Please contact me at genienan@yahoo.com so we can discuss.

    Thank you!

  43. m a cool freelance designer with enough skills in designing. i deal with logos, brand names etc. i also train computer design software. anyone out there willing to obtain my services? contact me on maishdaudi@gmail.com

  44. I am looking for the Elusive Kenyan Industrial Designer

    Journal Article:

    Product design in less industrialized economies: constraints and opportunities in Kenya

    Krista M. Donaldson
    Center for Design Research, Stanford University, 424 Panama Mall, Stanford, CA 94305-2232, USA

    The ability for an economy to design useful products is tied to its productivity, thus economic growth and the population’s standards of living. This paper investigates product design strategies and processes in Kenya in the country’s informal, formal, and non-governmental sectors. In analyzing Kenyan 200+ products, patterns emerged to delineate four approaches to the detailed design acquisition of common-use products: imitated design, imported design, basic original design, and specialty design. A vast majority of product designs, 54 of 55 tracked in this research, originate outside the country or were imitated from imported products. Across sectors, there is emphasis on the detailed design and manufacturing phases of the design process. Factors specific to less industrialized economies (LIEs) like Kenya, such as corruption and an inadequate infrastructure, limit design activities relative to more industrialized economies. Design constraints observed in Kenya are believed to be similar to other economies at the same levels of industrialization. For product design to sustainably support economic development in LIEs, it is imperative that design process be consistent with local conditions and be user-centric in approach.
    Keywords Developing countries – Design process – Informal sector – Non-governmental organizations – Appropriate Technology

    Krista M. Donaldson
    Email: kdonaldson@stanfordalumni.org
    Phone: +1-415-2542303
    Fax: +1-415-8241154

  45. Victor Sighali

    March 6, 2009 at 7:05 am

    Hi, Krista!
    Did you manage to get your Elusive Kenyan Industrial Designer? My Name is Victor, and I’m into In-Store & marketing, Concept Design. I’ll be glad to Help where I can. Contact me via the email address.
    vsighali@yahoo.com
    Have a great Weekend.

  46. I am a graphic student studying in the United kingdom but I am here in Kenya for 4 Months so if anyone is looking for any graphics work to be done please contact me on poojabshah17@gmail.com

    Thank You

  47. David ngugi mutegi

    June 16, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Hey guys show some love to one of your own i mean am a graphic designer too but i need some experience coz am just from college any one out their who can help?

  48. I have also been having the same problem as the author of this forum. It is hard to find graphic artist from Kenya on the web… they don’t seem to have organized themselves into any visible entity. I didn’t have that problem finding artist in TZ, UG or SA.

    Anyway, am looking for graffiti artists from Kenya. Some with mad skills in illustrations and vector images… someone who can take a concept and transform it into a stunning work of art. I need graphics with a kick… kind Afro-urban-graffiti style. Email me at info[at]afrofusion.net

  49. are we still talking about graphic and web designers 🙂 or am 4 years late 🙂

  50. Nope! Am afraid you are right, U are 4 years late indeed!

  51. er, well I think we should definitely start this up again!
    What say you ‘whiteafrican’?
    I got back to Kenya last year and getting involved in web/graphics/3D/broadcasting, all growth industries, but my what potential:-)

    email: info@xeinium.com

  52. …er, Is that an invitation or just a comment?
    Where is your station?

  53. Well i aint kenyan, but have been around here for over 4 years studying. it was in ’06 that i first got introduced to photoshop.
    This problem isn’t just here but back home, TZ, its pretty much the samething but a bit more depressing.
    anyway, i do more than just photoshop, im a certified adobe geek and m working on some serious motion graphics reels….will be uploading soon.
    my site: http://www.kidando.daportfolio.com
    cheers

  54. This was back in 2006, now in 2011 I can tell you of several very skilled graphic designers! Check out http://designrepublik.blogspot.com/ !!

  55. Hi. This post was very funny. The number of businesses making serious profits for teaching half-baked photoshop and web design skills are mushrooming all over the place, reason being High Demand. Even more seriously is that Graphic Design is taught at the local University and Polytechnic for over 15 years. Did I mention the stay at home guys who learn the skill on their own?? 🙂 I don’t believe u even tried….

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