You had a taste of Mutua Matheka's photography in last year's Kenya Independence Day post and today, I'm happy to bring you an interview with the creative genius behind the work. "Painting the colors of Kenya, one shot at a time," I really admire Mutua's artistic diligence on the whole. Not only is he constantly experimenting with and honing his crafts but, he unleashes his creative expression on the world in multiple media – drawing, graphic design, architecture, experimental rap, truthslinging … He shares today, his passion and inspiration.
What's your passion?
My passion is in art. All art. For me art just manifests itself differently. When I was a kid, it was in drawing cartoons, in high school it was painting and pencil portraiture, in campus it was architecture and graphic design, now it is photography. I would love to see people conversant with art and educated about it, especially kids.
What inspires your work?
My work is inspired by several things. I believe we are always a product of our surroundings and experiences. Nature inspires me, the colors in nature are marvelous. I am inspired by fellow creatives in all fields … when I see something that looks cool and looks challenging, I go try it out for myself, try to crack it. Beauty inspires me because I like to see beauty around me and in things I create.
What has your greatest obstacle/challenge been?
My greatest challenge is money. My friend, Martin likes to say that one of the greatest problems in Africa is basic needs … let me explain. I believe art cannot be bought/afforded. When artists have to do art as a business to make a living, I think something in it reduces. But you've got to make some money (it's a vicious cycle really). The good thing is that challenges make us creative with little. I push my tiny Nikon D40 to give me the best that I can get from it. I have no choice so, I am always thinking of a way around something hard for it to do, to create the image that is in my head.
How have you dealt with/overcome it?
Along with the above, I study online a lot, to see if I can acquire cheap accessories to help me push the little that I have to go the furthest distance. I really believe in the 'shut up and shoot' philosophy and that, if people spend as much time learning their tools as they do researching and acquiring new equipment, we would have people who are more skilled in their craft. I seek to do that.
What has your greatest achievement been?
Greatest achievement … hmmm … I shall say that it is marrying the woman I love. Everything else has seemed to fall into place since then. Photography-wise, I seem to be achieving new heights every day in small steps … still moving on up. I know that's a vague answer but that is really all I got.
(Editor's note: that's plenty!)
Where will you be in 10 years?
Gosh 10 years is far. I really never see that far in my life – I kinda flow with where my life takes me. I would like, in 10 years, to be on a 750cc KTM adventure bike, riding down a dusty road to some really rural part of Kenya, to photograph it as part of my plan to document rural Kenya in photos. That is a summary really, of what I'd like my life to be like, 10 years from now. Oh and 2 children trailing along too :).
How does Africa inspire you?
Africa, oh Africa. Definitely. A whole wealth of beauty lies in Africa. I love the textures, the colors, the culture, the landscape, the people, the languages. Makes me want to go out and shoot, every time I imagine it.
Anything else you'd like to share?
I think it is time African creatives collaborated a lot – this sharpens each of the collaboratees 🙂 and increases exposure for everyone. Also, let us also take time to be good in our craft. Let us spend time being good at what we do. I trust that the big bucks shall also find us somewhere along the way. One can never be too good, there is ALWAYS something to learn, even from someone 'inferior'.
Anything we should look out for in the coming weeks/months/year?
You should expect lots and lots of experimental photographs and well-planned shoots. Ideally, I'm looking for all opportunities to up my game, by all means necessary. Oh, and getting my website out – www.mutuamatheka.co.ke – looking forward to that.
Images copyright and courtesy of Mutua Matheka