International Women’s Day portraits and colouring sheets

Happy International Women’s Day!

I’ve created a new series of illustrated portraits for the occasion, inspired by vintage photographs of women around the world.

The women featured include:

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African goddesses: Orisha Alchemy – a project story

African goddesses were an obvious choice of subject for me, given how I love to create African feminist work.

In addition, for a long time, I’ve been interested in religions and belief systems. Years ago, I started a blog dedicated to this exploration which, I used to create some art for.

My recently launched collection, Orisha Alchemy, picks up where that now inactive blog left off. In this post I share my inspiration, my process and the final creations. Continue reading “African goddesses: Orisha Alchemy – a project story”

East African Food, Illustrated

I recently illustrated the ingredients of some of my favourite East African food: pilau, kachumbari and ndizi (green bananas, Tanzanian style).

My colleague, Rasoah, collated some recipes from the interwebs, in case you’re unfamiliar with these dishes and would like to give them a try. Creativity is our forté so, there’s quite a bit of variation in preparation styles!

Continue reading “East African Food, Illustrated”

Women, illustrated.

With International Women’s Day this week, I wanted to celebrate all the women that I have had the honour to collaborate with, illustrate and exchange with, in the course of my professional life. The majority of my clients have been women’s organisations and women-led businesses and I have loved exploring and experiencing the world from this feminist lens.

It’s been such a joy to illustrate a diversity of interesting and inspiring women.

Continue reading “Women, illustrated.”

A few of my favourite things: Kenyan design brands

Nairobi this past November was a feast for the eyes, thanks to some of my favourite Kenyan design brands! I participated in several fairs which, gave me the opportunity to check out the great work of my peers.

The photos below were taken at Biz Baz, XmasBoX, Spring Valley Bazaar and the Ichyulu Pop Up at Zen Garden. This list is by no-means exhaustive!

I’m participating in 2 more events this year: a special Christmas evening at Nook Cafe on Thursday (14th December) and Pop-Up & Chill Handmaker’s Market, this Sunday (17th December). Come through to hang out, discover some new brands, and get your last-minute Christmas gifts and treats! Continue reading “A few of my favourite things: Kenyan design brands”

Lulu Kitololo Studio design and illustration highlights from 2016

Happy new year! I hope you had some time to rest and rejuvenate as the year turned. A good chunk of my holiday was spent in Moshi, Tanzania. I stayed at my late grandparents’ home – resting, reading and spending time with family. I came back to Nairobi with renewed enthusiasm and clarity! There are several big (and slightly scary) adventures – design and otherwise – on the horizon this year, for me and for the Studio. I look forward to sharing them with you.

The first one starts next week, when 3 creative friends and I set off for a 15,000km+ road trip through southern Africa (see below).

As we prepare to set off, I wanted to share some highlights from 2016. Many of you have been a part of these projects and endeavours and I thank you deeply for your different contributions. Continue reading “Lulu Kitololo Studio design and illustration highlights from 2016”

Portraits of 2014

Illustration-Portraits-Lulu-Kitololo-2014
 
 
Last year, I started taking commissions for the style of portrait illustrations that I’d previously made for my design business and a few of our clients. The response was really exciting! People ordered illustrations for themselves and their loved ones, coming up with reasons and occasions that I hadn’t even thought of.
 
This is what they’ve been used for, to date:
  • Present for a wife, just because
  • Birthday presents (especially for ‘big’ birthdays, e.g. 50, 60)
  • Wedding presents
  • Christmas presents
  • Website banners
  • Social media avatars
  • Editor’s portrait in a magazine
  • Illustration of interview subjects for a magazine
 
The image above is a round up of commissions from 2014. I really love making these.
 
2015 commissions
To help me manage my time, I’ve decided that I will only take 12 of these portrait commissions this year. I’ve already got a few in the works so, get in touch ASAP if you’re interested in one: lulu [at] weareasilia [dot] com. You can also find more details on ordering here.
 
See larger versions of the portraits above, on my Pinterest page.
 
 
All illustrations copyright yours truly, Lulu Kitololo 

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Buy African: Last-minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas Buy African Afri-love

 

It’s less than a week to go until Christmas so, ordering your gifts online is now pretty much a gamble. If the thought of braving the madness shops this weekend makes you want to crawl into a dark hole, fear not – I’ve got some ideas that will hopefully keep you in the festive spirit.

The gifts here are all things that you can buy, right up until Christmas Day. They are organised by interest so, hopefully you’ll be able to find something appropriate for all the people on your list – whatever they fancy!

Continue reading “Buy African: Last-minute Christmas Gift Ideas”

In Pictures: The Road to Renegade (+ An Epic Giveaway)

Botanical Art Print Mini Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo

 

The Renegade Craft Fair London is 3 days away and Lusungu and I have been busy getting our ‘Fly South For Winter’ collection ready! It’s inspired by our motherland love and a yearning for the tropics in these wintry times. All the designs are hand-drawn by me and then hand screen printed by Lusungu (aka Creativity and Noise).

 

Fly South For Winter Creativity and Noise Lulu Kitololo squeegees

Continue reading “In Pictures: The Road to Renegade (+ An Epic Giveaway)”

Project Stories: ‘African Cities’ Greeting Cards

African Cities Greeting Cards Asilia
  

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.

 

African-Cities-Xmas-Foliage-Trees-Asilia

 

This made a lot of sense to me. Growing up in Kenya, I didn't experience white Christmases. Nonetheless, all the greeting cards you could find depicted snowy landscapes, reindeer and other icons rooted in traditions, and places, far far away from us. It was hard to find designs that represented or spoke to our particular experience.

For that reason, these cards fit so well with my general mission to create contextually appropriate alternatives, for those of us from cultures outside the dominant Western one. And for all of us who desire something a little bit different – some diversity to add to the mainstream narratives. 

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Travelling is Learning

 

Inspiration

I wanted to celebrate African cities. My team and I did a lot of visual research, looking at images from different countries. Pictures of architecture, cityscapes, landscapes, people and crafts. I did some initial drawings bringing these elements together.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Initial Drawings

 

Then, pattern-obsessive that I am, I started to to pick out shapes from all these images and imagine how I could bring them together in a different way. I didn't want to just recreate cityscapes – I wanted to create compositions that had a rhythm and playfulness that would intrigue and delight those who saw them. As I experimented with this process of abstraction, I noticed that a lot of the shapes could be read in different ways by different people.

Take the image below – are those trees, sails or pyramids; are those hills, waves or fish scales?!

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Starlit Asilia 2

 

Bringing them to life

African Cities Greeting Cards Proofs

 

We worked with one of our favourite printers, London co-operative, Calverts, to produce our first run of cards, on 100% recycled paper. We launched them at the 2014 Africa Utopia festival and received a wonderful response. 

Shortly thereafter, we set up a photoshoot. Asilia’s graphic design intern, Nuri Abdur-Rauf, happens to be a great photographer so, she took the reigns.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Photoshoot

 

I also got to indulge my plant obsession – it made sense (of course) for the art direction that I had in mind. I found some beautiful natural adornments to complement the cards.

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Complementary Plants

 

Everybody on the team had a turn at styling and the whole experience was a lot of fun. It proved how much you can accomplish without fancy equipment and a huge budget (more behind-the-scenes photos here)!

 

African Cities Greeting Cards LowTech Photoshoot

 

I’m still over the moon with how the photos turned out. You can see many of the final selects on Asilia’s BigCartel shop.

 

The celebration continues all month

Throughout the month I’ll be sharing more stories behind the cards, as well as celebrating the African cities that inspired them. This will include a handful of blog posts right here, some Instagram action and almost daily activity on Asilia’s Facebook page.

 

I need your help

I will also be undertaking some market research this month, mainly to inform my future product lines. Would you like to take part? If you’re interested, please get in touch via studio[at]weareasilia[dot]com and I will send you some more information. 

 

African Cities Greeting Cards Photoshoot Composing 

 

Last but not least, I’d love to hear what you think and which cards are your favourites. See them all here.

 

All drawings, illustrations and designs by Lulu Kitololo. Photos by Nuri Abdur-Rauf, Lusungu Chikamata and Lulu.

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Continue reading “Project Stories: ‘African Cities’ Greeting Cards”