The Afri-love List: 4 (East) African Photographers to Follow on Instagram

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This is the first of many lists as I’m constantly discovering amazing African photographers (and other creatives), through Instagram. The four featured here all hail from my part of the continent – the east. This is just a slice of their repertoire so be sure to check them out their Instagram feeds. In alphabetical order …

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Free Download: Colouring Sheets

Colouring Sheets Free Download Afri-love Lulu Kitololo
 

In less than 2 days, many of us will be enjoying a public holiday (whether we celebrate Christmas or not) and we'll hopefully have some downtime.

If you find yourself at a loss for ideas of how to entertain the younger ones (and those young at heart), I've got just the thing for you! I've created 3 different colouring sheets for you to download and print.

There's a garden scene, aka Bustani (see above); a fishy scene and; a composition made up of landmarks and landscapes from various African cities (bonus points if you can name any of them – let me know in the comments below).

 

Colouring Sheets Lulu Kitololo Afri-love

 

To get a hold of your downloads, all you have to do is sign up to the Afri-love mailing list here

Once you've signed up, you will receive an email with links to download the sheets. Simply print and enjoy. If you're already subscribed, the links are in the latest email, sent today.

Fellow Instagrammers, please share a picture and mention me @lulukitololo – I'd love to see how you and your loved ones improve on my creations!

 

All drawings copyright Lulu Kitololo. Please note that the colouring sheets are for your personal use and may be used for any commercial purpose whatsoever.

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Hobby or Business: Should you Take your Creative Pursuits to the Next Level?

Creative-Hobby-or-Business-Which-Way-To-Go-Tips

 

My experience of running a business has been rewarding in many ways but, it’s no walk in the park. If you’re creatively inclined like myself, you may have had the thought: “how can I design my life so that I get to do more of this making stuff?” It’s no secret that I’m a big advocate of this – I’m often encouraging people to go for it. However, if you’re planning on making a living from it, it’s important to really think about whether you want to create a business of it, or if you’re better off with a creative hobby. 

Here are some questions to help you decide:

Passion
a). Do you have an unwavering love for what you do? Do you eat, sleep, breathe and think about it all the time?
OR 
b). Do you just like it a lot right now?

Focus
a). Do you have a relatively clear vision of the career and lifestyle you want to have?
OR
b). Does your vision change fundamentally, with every day, every encounter and every new experience?

Drive
a). Are you a self-starter?
OR
b). Do you prefer to have things all planned out for you?

Multi-tasking ability
a). Are you adept at juggling several different tasks and responsibilities?
OR 
b). Do you prefer to work exclusively on one thing at a time?

Confidence and fearlessness
a). Are you proud to show and tell the world about what you’re doing?
OR
b). Do you hate talking about yourself?

Resilience
a). Do you have a thick skin when it comes to what others think and say about you and your work?
OR
b). Would you rather not put yourself out there for scrutiny?

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘a’ questions – welcome to the wonderful and challenging world of enterprise!

If you responded ‘yes’ to most of the ‘b’ questions – why ruin a good thing? Why not nurture your creativity without the pressures of business, for now?

If I had to sum up the qualities I think it takes to make a living from your craft, I’d say that these are up there: passion, focus, drive, multi-tasking ability, confidence (at least enough to fake it well), fearlessness and resilience.

At the end of the day, running a creative business is about so much more than just making (see my post on non-creative business priorities for creative professionals). Some people welcome this as a necessary part of the lifestyle they want to lead but, for others, these demands destroy their enjoyment of their craft. With a creative project, you can change your mind, change the plan at a whim or quit at any point. You can do so with a creative business too but, the consequences of this kind of spontaneity could be more significant.

Let me know if this post has been useful to your decision-making. 

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Recent Art Adventures: Appreciation, Inspiration and Making

One of the things I'm really enjoying at the moment is all the art that I'm discovering, experiencing and making. Here are some photos from recent adventures …

1-Mandela-Street-Art-Manchester-Akse-P19

 

While in Manchester recently, it wasn’t all about plant photography. I chanced upon graffiti artist Akse (P19 Crew) working on a Mandela portrait.

 

2-Return-of-the-Rudeboys-Exhibition-by-Dean-Chalkley-Harris-Elliot

 

A few days later, I finally checked out the Return of the Rudeboy exhibition at Somerset House. Created and curated by photographer and filmmaker, Dean Chalkley, and fashion-industry creative director, Harris Elliott, the exhibition “showcases a sartorial subculture through a series of portraits, installations and set pieces” (exhibition site). Beautiful photography and amazing style – inspiration to up my own game!

 

3-Return-of-the-Rudeboys-Exhibition-by-Dean-Chalkley-Harris-Elliot

 

The exhibition features a few rudegirls too. Here: Zoe Bedeaux.

 

4-Return-of-the-Rudeboys-Exhibition-We-Are-Cuts-Installation
 

I was digging the colours, textures and patterns in this corner of the We Are Cuts barbershop/salon installation.

 

5-Asilia-Team-En-Route-Pangaea

 

A few days after that, the Asilia UK team went to check out Pangaea: New Art from Africa and Latin America, at the Saatchi Gallery. You’d think from this picture that I forced them to go!

 

5b Boris Nzebo Art Pangaea Exhibition
 

I loved the colour, lines and layering in the work of Cameroonian artist, Boris Nzebo.

 

6-Asilia-Team-Pangaea-Exhibition-Saatchi-Gallery-Aboudia-Art

 

Kathryn and Lusungu mesmerised by a painting by Ivorian artist, Aboudia.

 

7-Vincent-Michea-Art-Detail-Pangaea-Exhibition

 

This is a detail from a piece by Dakar-based artist, Vincent Michea. This and the piece below celebrate African music. Vibrant, simple but striking.

 

8-Vincent-Michea-Art-Pangaea-Exhibition

 

Over in my maker's corner …

A couple of years ago I shared my desire to spend more time creating. Even though I own a creative business, over the past few years, I’ve found that I haven’t been doing as much making as I’d like. You may have caught my post from a couple of months ago – "Beyond Making" – explaining all the other things that are involved in running a creative business. 

I’m happy to declare that, things are changing! Particularly since June. I’ve been getting my hands ‘dirty’ much more and not only has it brought me much creative satisfaction but, opportunities too! I’ve been receiving such a great response to my illustrated portraits, for example. Here are a few snippets of things I’ve worked on recently.

 

9-Lulu-Kitololo-Art-Asilia-Design-Work-in-Progress-Painting-Patternmaking

 

I’ve been designing the upcoming album cover for musician, Namvula. I created a pattern, inspired by some kitenge (wax print) fabric on a dress she owns. The first step was painting the elements that would make up the pattern.

 

10-Lulu-Kitololo-Art-Asilia-Design-Work-in-Progress-Pattern-Making
 

I then played around with them on the computer and the pattern began to take shape. It was a really hectic week for me – moving offices and preparing to travel, while trying to keep on top of the usual demands. For the first time ever, I took to working on the bus, between meetings and errands! I prefer taking the bus to the tube anyway, especially when it’s as hot as it has been lately. Since the bus usually takes longer, I thought I’d capitalise on that time and be productive.

 

11-Lulu-Kitololo-Art-Drawing-Work-in-Progress-Illustrate-Me-Asilia-Design
 

Above, detail of a drawing I made to be used as a background for an illustrated portrait I was working on …

 

12-Lulu-Kitololo-Illustrate-Me-Asilia-Design-Illustrated-Portraits-Lizzie
 

… for marketing whiz, Lizzie Phillips. This is the final product. Another satisfied Illustrate Me customer!

 

And that's all for now. Follow me on Instagram (@lulukitololo) for daily adventures in appreciating, finding inspiration for and making art.

 

What are you working on this week?

 

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Creative Muses: Plant Life

1-Nature-Creative-Muse-Cacti-Cactus-Succulents

 

The weather in the UK has been refreshingly wonderful for the past few weeks. I've tried to spend as much time outdoors as I can which means, more encounters with one of the greatest sources of inspiration in my book – plants! The colours, the patterns, the sheer diversity –  plant-gazing is surely one of the purest delights. 

 

2-Nature-Creative-Muse-Round-Courgettes-Zucchini-Wild-Country-Organics

 

Fruits and vegetables count as plant life for me. I've found that my paleo journey has exposed me to varieties that I had not come across before! I've been frequenting my local farmers' market where I can buy organic produce at prices that rival those of even conventional veggies in the supermarket. Above, round courgettes (aka zucchini) from Wild Country Organics

 

3-Nature-Creative-Muse-Dahlias-Northern-Flower-Manchester

 

Spotted these Dahlias this past weekend in Manchester, at a charming quirky boutique flower shop called Northern Flower. It was stocked with the most interesting selection of plants, including venus fly traps!

 

4-Nature-Creative-Muse-Horniman-Museum-Gardens-London

 

Those of you who follow me on Instagram will know that the gardens at the Horniman Museum count as one of my favourite places in London. The image above was enhanced with a little help of that wonderful tool, VSCOcam.

 

5-Nature-Creative-Muse-Succulents-Florist-Bethnal-Green-London

 

I find it hard to walk by florists without pausing to take a picture. Especially in summer when their wares are out on the pavement begging for it. This one is in Bethnal Green and unfortunately I didn't note the name …

 

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I do have quite a bit of fun manipulating enhancing photographs on my phone. It has become one of my favourite commute-time activities!

 

7-Nature-Creative-Muse-Horniman-Museum-Gardens-London

 

Horniman again. And there will be more …

 

8-Nature-Creative-Muse-Chilli-Pepper-Plants-Northern-Flower

 

Chilli peppers at the Northern Flower. I was so tempted to purchase a pot or three!

 

9-Nature-Creative-Muse-Horniman-Museum-Gardens-London

 

Horniman …

 

10-Nature-Creative-Muse-Flowers-Tate-Modern-Bankside-London

 

This regal beauty caught my eye as I was walking along the riverbank, not far from the Tate Modern museum.

 

Nature, the universe and mother-love

I came across some quotes by environmentalist, naturalist, traveler, writer, and scientist, John Muir, that I totally resonate with:

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

There is a love of wild Nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties.

 

I found them here, where you can read plenty more from his book, John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir (which is now on my wishlist!).

 

What about nature inspires you?

 

All photos by Lulu Kitololo. 

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Afri-love is 5

Afri-love-is-5

 

Today, Afri-love is 5 years old. 

I started the blog just after I left the world of employment so, this milestone not only marks the anniversary of an idea but also, of a completely different way of life! That of a self-employed creative entrepreneur. 

It’s so fitting then that the mission of this blog has evolved over the years to what it is now – a platform to showcase, encourage and support creative entrepreneurship. My experiences, and in particular, the things I’ve learned as I’ve dealt with the various (and many) challenges that have come my way, have inspired content ideas. My hope is that by sharing these stories and tips, others can avoid some of the setbacks I’ve faced and focus on excellence and striving.

 

Adele-Dejak-Lulu-Kitololo

[with client and Afri-love interviewee, fashion designer, Adele Dejak]

 

Constants

The ultimate vision with which I started Afri-love remains the same …

Imagine Africans who love who they are, as they are, and so love each other and the environment that nurtures them. Confident and assertive, they are engaged in charting their growth and celebrating success as defined on their own terms.

Imagine all who are inspirited by Africa – all whose lives and hearts have been touched by the spirit of the continent – sharing their passion through collaboration, in the name of mutual empowerment.

Imagine all starting by looking inside themselves. Self-discovery, self-awareness, self-love and self-respect. And then true learning, understanding, love and respect of the other. Harnessing the power of emotion to influence great positive change.

 

Kitengela Glass Art Sculpture

[Sculpture at the Kitengela Glass studio in Kenya]

 

I’ve always seen creativity as a powerful vehicle for these aims. My beloved continent is responsible for so much of who I am. The sun, the natural beauty, the people’s spirit, the diversity of culture, the innovation, the resilient unrelenting joyfulness. I like to think that I express this influence – this richness, dynamism and even complexity – through my work. And I recognise a similar ‘language’ in the work of the many many creatives that I’ve come across on this Afri-love journey. Whether they reside on the continent or in the diaspora. Whether they identify as Africans or are simply inspired by Africa. The creative expression that Africa inspires is phenomenal and it feels like the world is taking proper note now (once again). Fittingly, Afri-love is also about celebration.

I recall the tagline that I came up with 5 years ago: Be proud. Be inspired. Spread love. Grow.

On a personal level, this is still appropriate today:

 

Lulu-Kitololo-Founder-Afri-love

 

  • I am proud to be who I am – every single piece of me
  • I continue to be inspired by the world, people and life in general but, as pertains to my heritage in particular
  • I aim to approach every situation, thing and everybody with love. And that starts with the self. It starts with approaching myself with love.
  • I am thankful of the opportunity to grow – with every experience and with every encounter (it what makes each day even better than the last – even though it can seem quite the opposite when we’re actually in the moment) 

 

V&A-Afropolitans-Friday-Late-Yemi-Hannah-Lulu-Minna-Tolu

[Panel at the V&A Afropolitans Friday Late in 2011. From left: Yemi Alade-Lawal of Afro-Pop Live; writer, editor and curator Hannah Pool (who is also a client); me; writer Minna Salami, aka MsAfropolitan and Afri-love interviewee; journalist, poet, photographer and fiction writer, Tolu Ogunlesi. My take on the discussion here. Photo by Barbara Muriungi/Them2k]

 

That’s why I’m so grateful to all of you who have read, commented, shared and participated in this Afri-love journey. I could never have imagined that I would get to know so many amazing people, let alone get to share prestigious stages and grace the pages of magazines, newspapers and blogs. From simply putting what I’m passionate about our there! I thought I believed in the transformative power of passion back then but, now, I’ve actually experienced it.

 

Changes

In life’s funny way of bringing things full circle, it’s now challenging me to take things a step further in the pursue-your-passion department. After years of providing a graphic design service to clients, it’s becoming clearer and clearer with each day that I need to let my self-directed work assume more of the spotlight. Work is in progress (previews and sneak peeks) as I find a balance that works. Now that I’ve voiced it – I have thousands of witnesses! Sometimes it feels like I’m quitting my day job, all over again. 

 

Lulu Kitololo Asilia Work in Progress

 

Juggling these new ambitions with my existing commitments, and trying to focus on staying healthy at the same time, means that I haven’t been able to make the anniversary splash that I would have liked to make today. Thankfully, self-love mode kicked in (kicking out unrealistic-high-expectations mode), and I realised that the celebration is so much bigger than one day. And so, I will be stretching it out across several. Maybe even several months … A live event is definitely a part of it so, stay tuned.

 

Again, thank you for being here with me – now, then and later. 

Big big love!
Lulu

Continue reading “Afri-love is 5”

Last Week in Pictures: Tropical Hints

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2-Typography-Tropical-London-Instagram

 

As the weather warms up in London, being outside becomes so much more compelling and, I have more excuses to pause and take note of the sights around me. Here are some from the past week. All the visual stimulation is motivating me to procrastinate less on making (hence the first photo above) – an extra win! 

 

3-Creativity-and-Noise-Tshirt-Lusungu-Chikamata

4-Ace-Hotel-London-Brick-Lane-Jamme-Masjid

 

That's Lusungu in one of his new Creativity and Noise Brazil World Cup tees. We found that tropical backdrop at Shoreditch Food Village. Below, the entrance to London's Ace Hotel – a super cool space to work and no doubt staycation in (wishlist!). Below right: beautiful mirrored patterning at the Brick Lane Jamme Masjid.

 

5-Bees-Warning-Graffiti

6-Box-Park-Flowers-East-London-Housing-Patterns

 

A sobering warning from the bees. I actually witnessed the graffiti artist finishing this piece in Shoreditch. It's a pretty long wall, this is probably less than a quarter of it. Below left – I love yellow and I love flowers. These were in Boxpark near the pop-up Cotton's caribbean restaurant. Below right – I kept noticing this pattern on several housing blocks in East London. 

 

7-Southbank-Centre-Roof-Garden

8-Colour-Edmonton-Southbank-Centre-Alchemy

 

Finally checked out the Southbank Centre roof garden. I also caught this beautiful typography at the end of the Alchemy South Asia festival. Below left – kitsch colourful ceilings in Edmonton!

Check out more pictures from my daily adventures on my Instagram feed – @lulukitololo.

Happy Monday in advance everybody! Here's to a vibrant week!

 

All photos by Lulu Kitololo

 

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Beyond Making: Non-Creative Business Priorities, for Creative Professionals

Beyond-Making-Non-Creative-Business-Priorities-Creative-Professionals

 

I wanted to be a creative professional because I like to come up with ideas and to make things. I wanted to be an entrepreneur because I wanted more freedom over my ideamongering (yes, I made that up) and my making. The hard truth of the matter is that, running a creative business is still running a business. As much as I would love to spend all my time developing concepts, drawing and designing, in reality that has often only taken up half, if that, of my work time. 

I’m not complaining because my situation does indeed enable me to live life (a little more) on my own terms. With the wisdom of experience, I continuously make adjustments to free up more time and space to create. It’s about finding a balance. A team and a business partner can certainly help with that but in the beginning, that may not be an option.

Before you embark on your entrepreneurial journey, it’s good to know what will be in store – to appreciate the various hats you may have to wear by your lonesome. Here are ones that I can think of:

Legal matters
Registering your company or setting yourself up as a sole trader. If you have employees, you will need contracts. You will also need to think of creating company policies and ensuring that they’re in line with statutory requirements.

Finance
Perhaps the most important because, at the end of the day, if you’re a business, you need to make profit. Knowing your numbers is key, i.e. having targets and planning your activities in order to meet them. Getting paid is the main step and this involves invoicing and the thing we all hate – chasing payments. Then there’s making payments to others: suppliers; payroll for employees and; the government (corporate tax, National Insurance/Social Security contributions, VAT etc.). You need to have systems to keep track of all of this.

Procurement
This involves researching and identifying appropriate suppliers and then liaising/collaborating with them. For some businesses, this will be more involved than for others. If you’re providing a service, as opposed to creating products, this may be less demanding. 

For example, when providing graphic design services, the only procurement I really have to do is printing and oftentimes, even this isn’t necessary (e.g. on logo design projects). I did have some one-off procurement to do at the start of my business though – a computer and software – and every now and again, I need to stock up on stationery.

However, if I was, for example, a fashion designer, I would need to think about: where I’m sourcing my material; how my prototypes are getting made; production of orders; packaging for deliveries and/or purchases in-store etc.

Sales
Sales is often considered a dirty word yet, we all engage in it on some level. Even as an employee, you had to sell yourself well to secure that position and, it’s likely that you have to continue to sell yourself well to ‘move up’ or, in this day and age, to keep it! I think we need to reimagine the idea of sales. Some people have things that other people want – things that add value to their lives in some way. Sales is simply a way of identifying the people who need what you’re offering and enabling them to get it.

Whether you’re selling your goods yourself or being stocked by others, you will need to approach people, interest them, take orders and fulfil them. This will involve customer service; shipping and handling and; managing your inventory.

New business 
New business is a similar concept to sales and arguably, it’s what comes before the sale. It’s about identifying opportunities for your business by engaging and networking with people and, building and nurturing those relationships. In my line of work, it’s very common to have conversations with a prospect and then wait 6 months to a year before they’re ready to actually commission any work. A lot of people don’t have that kind of patience or, get demoralised when it seems like their efforts have been in vain. If I can sum up entrepreneurship at this moment, I may have to go with: ‘faith and persistence'.

Marketing
I saved this for last because it’s the area I enjoy the most, second to making things. There are some blurred lines between sales, new business and marketing so I’ll define what it means to me in essence: getting the word out about what you’ve got to offer (i.e. doing your work justice!).

You will have some initial collateral to create, for example: website; business cards and other stationery; signage and banners; core promotional materials (flyers, brochures, catalogs etc.). 

You will also have to consider some ongoing activity. This could be online: llist-building; email marketing; content marketing; blogging; social media; ad campaigns etc. Not forgetting the power of offline channels such as print materials; live events; advertising in print or on air. 

Then there’s PR: creating press releases; media relations; blogger outreach etc.

Ideally, you will create a strategy and plan for all of these things. 

Worth the juggle?
Phew! Tired yet? If it’s any consolation, it is possible to do all these things. If the reason why you’re setting out on this journey is big enough, you will develop the time management and focus skills necessary to master this. If you do a valuation of your time, you will also realise the benefit of outsourcing things that are beyond your core skill/competence and that includes non-work-related tasks like cleaning the house.

At the end of the day, you might decide that you just want to create for the sake of it. That you want your craft to be a hobby that’s not influenced by customer demand and the other pressures of trying to make a profit. For many, that’s the choice they have to make to keep their creative passion alive. However, there are many who are running thriving businesses as they push their creative muscles and satisfy their desires to add more beauty, intrigue and examination into the world.

PS We made a tool a few years back – Anza – a checklist for start-ups and entrepreneurs. It outlines all the things you will need to think about when setting up your business. You can download it for free (currently available for Android only).

Illustration by Lulu Kitololo

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RIP to the Phenomenal Woman: Maya Angelou

Maya-Angelou-Art-Illustrate-Me-RIP

 

Maya Angelou lived such a full and creative life: poet, dancer, film and television producer, playwright, film director, author and actress. Not to forget the creative acts of educating and changemaking, in her work as a teacher and civil rights activist.

I remember reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings when I was younger and feeling like I'd found a role model who I could relate to. Maya Angelou's spirit of adventure, her prolific creative output and her positive mindset are all things that inspire me and that I aspire to.

 

Above – an illustrated tribute that I made today – to the phenomenal woman. Below – some more of my favourite Maya quotes:

"Nothing will work unless you do." 

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." 

"If you're always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be." 

 

(Check out more powerful Maya Angelou quotes on policymic.com)
Illustration by Lulu Kitololo

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