Goodbye Asilia: new business directions

This month marks 5 years of running my business. It’s been a hell of a ride – high moments, challenging times and everything in between. All with a great business partner and an amazing team by my side. But now, it’s time for a change …
A key part of the Asilia ethos has always been about following your heart and doing work you love. We’ve constantly strived to practice what we preach. That’s why we love working with other passionate people and why our self-directed projects are so important to us.
Over the past 5 years, these projects have evolved in different ways. Some have been more satisfying and successful than others – Afri-love, Afriapps and Black White Simple being the ones that have most resonated with the wider world.
 
Products of change
These projects, along with our experiences working with clients over the years, have taught us important lessons; opened up new opportunities we couldn’t have foreseen and; challenged and expanded our visions, when it comes to the contributions we want to bring to the world.
In being true to ourselves, our passions, our new circumstances and environments, we have decided on a new future for our professional paths.

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Invitation to Asilia’s Open Studio – 5th March 2015

 

I moved office a few months ago and my Asilia team and I are finally opening up our doors to welcome our clients, collaborators and friends.

You’re invited!

Drop by our new studio in Brockley, London, any time between 4pm and 8pm on Thursday 5th March.

You’ll get to see some of our work and enjoy some nibbles, and of course, our company.

Some of my art will also be on display, including a mural in progress. Lusungu will be showcasing his screenprinted goods and if we’re lucky, there just might be a demo and opportunity to try the technique for yourself!

The address is:

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New Designs – Your Thoughts Please

Market research - cards7

 

Following the great response I’ve been getting to my ‘African Cities’ greetings cards, I’m working on a new set of greeting card designs and would love your input.

I’ve put together a questionnaire which, you can complete in 10 minutes here. As a thank you, I will send you a free piece of art to download for your personal use.

If you’re in the UK and have 20 minutes to spare before or on November 1st, I’d love to take you through the questions, over the phone or via Skype. As a thank you, I will post you a limited edition art print. Simply email me on lulu [@] weareasilia [dot] com with three times that work for you.

Your information
The information that you share will be used to help me determine which greeting card designs to produce and, how best to get them to people who will find delight in them. This information will not be used for any other purpose and will not be shared with anybody outside my company, Asilia Ltd.

Spreading the Joy
Please submit your responses before the 1st of November and, do feel free to share the questionnaire with others who, might enjoy looking at some colourful images and giving feedback too.

Here’s the link to view the designs and complete the questionnaire: http://goo.gl/forms/10B26zBiyt

 

Thank you in advance!

View more work in progress on Instagram.

All images copyright Lulu Kitololo/Asilia Ltd.

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Project Stories: ‘African Cities’ Greeting Cards

You may have already gathered my excitement, from Facebook and Instagram, about one of my latest projects – a series of greeting cards I’ve titled ‘African Cities’. Here’s a little secret: they were a bit of an accident.

 

Context is everything

I was working on calendar designs and I was inspired to embark on a side project, taking abstract elements from the drawings I’d created and reinterpreting classic festive themes. Upon experimenting, I realised the beauty of this approach was that the cards could be seen as holiday-specific but, they could also very much work well for any occasion, any time of the year.

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Project Stories: Brand Identity Design for Toghal

I recognise that the story behind the work is often more compelling than the outcome. It’s through these stories that we understand the full context within which something exists. We get an insight into the creator’s intentions and inspirations, as well as into their process. And so a new Afri-love series is born: Project Stories. I hope you enjoy it – let me know what you think in the comments.

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The brief

About a year ago, Dayo Forster approached my graphic design studio, Asilia, with regards to developing the visual identity for the homeware brand she was launching.

Toghal was born out of a love for textiles, African heritage and the huge diversity of pattern, form and expression found in traditional African fabrics. Co-founder Dayo wanted to take inspiration from these traditional designs and keep their heritage alive by reimagining them in a fresh, contemporary way.

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3 Reasons Why I’m Looking Forward to Africa Utopia 2014

We’re just one week away from a special festival looking at what can be learnt and celebrated from Africa and the African diaspora. I’m looking forward to this second edition of the Africa Utopia festival for 3 main reasons:

1. The Great Line-up

My top 5 picks include:

  1. A Brief Look at Dance in Africa – a lecture/demonstration looking at the variety of dances across the continent, using performance, percussion and film.
  2. Africa Calling – work by new and established designers from Africa and the diaspora spanning furniture, fashion, graphic arts and more.
  3. Africa on the Catwalk – a selection of fashion and accessory designers who originate from or are inspired by the rich cultural heritage of Africa (including Asilia client, Adele Dejak!)
  4. Afropolis: New African Aesthetic – From the catwalk shows of Yves St Laurent to the windows of Topshop and Zara, style-wise, Africa is everywhere. What are the deeper aesthetic and socio-cultural dynamics at work behind this phenomenon and what impact does it have on African regional and cultural identities?
  5. Simply Soweto Encha – a five-piece a cappella group from Soweto township that sings gospel, soul, jazz, doo-wop, r’n’b and celebrates South African oral and dance traditions. I have a super weak spot for a cappella!

There are so many other great events throughout the weekend that I hope to check out. View the full programme here.

 

2. Asilia’s Social Media Workshop

Following my workshop at the Women of the World Festival, earlier this year, I’ve been invited back to run a special session at Africa Utopia. Come spend an hour with me to explore how to use the web and social media as tools to:

  • Celebrate and share your experience, perspective and vision with the world
  • Connect with kindred spirits
  • Monetise your activities
  • Contribute more of your passion to your community and the world

More info here.

 

Christmas-Cards-2014-Asilia

 

3. Asilia’s Stall at the Africa Utopia Marketplace

We’ll be launching the first of our brand new holiday line and we’ll also have a limited number of our Tropical Paleo, Miriam Makeba and Frida Kahlo art prints on sale. It’s also an opportunity to place your order for custom portraits. They’re great as gifts and it’s never too early to start your Christmas shopping! Creativity and Noise will be joining us too with a selection of hand screenprinted tees from our collaboration.

Follow me (@lulukitololo) and Asilia (@weareasilia) – on Instagram for a document of the long weekend. If you’re in London – come say hello!

 

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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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Illustrated Portraits

Over the past month or so, I’ve been doing lots of self-directed making. From creating fun photo ‘collages’ for Instagram to getting into a regular drawing rhythm. Funnily enough, a lot of this has then been co-opted for business purposes. For example said collages for the Creativity and Noise designs I made came out really well and had such a great response that they had to be used for promotional purposes!

 

Angela-Kariuki-Illustration
It’s a somewhat similar story with the hand-drawn illustrated portraits that I make. I started making them a few years ago when Asilia needed team photos. Our team was spread across London and Nairobi and we wanted a solution that would be scalable. It was clear that photography was going to be challenging. Furthermore, we wanted the portraits to be quirky – reflecting who we are as individuals and as a company. Illustration was definitely the answer, not least because it gave me an excuse to do some more drawing and indulge in some colour, texture and pattern fun.

 

Photo 2
The great response we’ve had to our team illustrations, as well as to those I’ve created for others (e.g. Mandela, my Dad, Maya Angelou and Asilia client KP Fox), prompted us to make it easy for anybody to commission one for themselves or their loved ones. Introducing – Illustrate Me: hand-drawn custom portraits.

As time goes on, new use-case scenarios emerge. Here’s a running list of uses:

  • Team bio/profile pictures
  • Social media profile pictures
  • Magazine articles – look out for the upcoming issue of New Internationalist Magazine where I illustrated an article about a conversation between 2 feminists.
  • Illustrations in books – we illustrated 30+ interviewees in the book Passion Pays by Genevieve de Lacaze
  • Gifts for loved ones (e.g. a portrait of your kids for their grandmother)
  • Album covers
  • Event flyers + gig posters
  • Business cards

 

How would you use an illustrated portrait?

 

All illustrations by Lulu Kitololo

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Protecting Your Intellectual Property Rights as a Creative Professional

It was World Intellectual Property Day this past Saturday – an opportunity to think about our rights as creatives and why it’s so important to understand them. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in running my creative business is communicating that ideas = money. Ideas are some of the most valuable things we have, especially being that we live in the Information Age.

When people commission Asilia to create something for them: part of the fee covers the fact that we can use computer programmes that they might not be able to; part of the fee covers our design and technology skills; part of the fee covers the collective experience that we have, especially given our different backgrounds and perspectives but; as far as I’m concerned, the true value that we bring is through our creativity – our ideas.

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Asilia’s ‘African Flowers’ Collection of Customisable Event and Wedding Stationery

African-Flowers-Customizable-Event-Wedding-Stationery-Design-Asilia-Shop

 

Last month, I spent a good deal of my time developing the 'African Flowers' collection of customisable event stationery, for Asilia's new online shop. The collection comprises of hand-illustrated save the date cards, thank you cards as well as wedding-specific materials such as wedding invitations, wedding order of service/menu cards and table number cards.

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