Devil’s Peak – justdesign.co.za
If I tell you about graphic design, I bet the continent which spontaneously comes to your mind will probably not be Africa. And this is because African artists suffer from a lack of visibility outside their borders. That is why, although it is impossible to draw a portrait of African design in a few paragraphs as events, cultures and influences are manifolds, however, I offer you some ideas to start exploring what creates the African continent. You might be surprised that, like elsewhere, the styles meet and blend, resulting in the end, a wide range of creations both bold and original.
Anthony Neil Dart is an art director and designer. He is the founder of the company Ontwert that operates in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I’m certain, to some extent; a person is a product of his environment. Africans are unique and we have a great cultural diversity. I think this is reflected in our work,” he explained in 2009, in an interview published on the site African Digital Art (africandigitalart.com). This site was created in 2009 by Jepchumba, an artist originally from Kenya, and has become a virtual community and a creative space where African digital artists can meet, find inspirations and discuss common issues within discussion forums online. For visitors, the site serves primarily as a gateway to the field of digital arts in Africa (audiovisual production, animation, interactive projects, web development, short films, graphic arts, design etc.) and its major artists.
Barbara Muriungi, the editor of ADA, is herself an art director and designer. Originally from Nairobi (Kenya), Muriungi worked in the United States, Canada and England in recent years before returning to her hometown in 2011 where she co-founded the studio New Colony. Her work was influenced by studies in motion graphics and visual effects and has been published in several magazines and reference books. She is, among other things, the creator of multiple logos for television, including HBO and Disney.
The Loerie Awards:
Barbara Muriungi created several mandates for companies outside Africa; some designs are illustrated in terms made for local businesses. This is also the case of Just Design studio based out of Stellenbosch, South Africa. This fall, the company has distinguished itself by winning a bronze medal at the Loerie Awards (theloerieawards.co.za), a competition that recognizes the best work in Africa and the Middle East. They won the award thanks to a project aimed at the packaging of local beer whose illustrations are signed by Studio Muti, an illustrator studio in Capetown. For this project Just Design has proposed a visual retro-inspired craftsmanship which is reminiscent of the microbrewery.
Other winners include the studio Ddb Mozambique based out the capital of this country in Southern Africa. With a series of poster stickers for prevention of breast cancer (the campaign, called “Heroines”, shows female superheroes doing a self-examination of their breasts), Ddb Mozambique has won a bronze medal at Loerie awards. Its posters against human trafficking have, whereas, received a gold medal at the same awards.
Finally, the studio Joe Public Shift, to whom we owe the graphic signature of the 2010 FIFA Cup, held in South Africa, has won several Loeries, including the Grand Prix 2012 in Brand Identity & Collateral category “Design – Direct Mail & Promotional” for its “OFM Change Your Tune”. The modern design style is the signature of the studio and is part of its philosophy. “We believe that the design has a very important role in the growth of a brand. We believe in growth by Design.”, said Joe Public Shift.
Paperwork – Anthony Neil Dart
On the French side, the blog Pixel africain (pixelafricain.com) wants to be a source of reference and inspiration for creative French-speaking Africans. “A serious Silence hangs over the role of design and the designer on Africa. A story is going to be written by African artists,” writes Guy-Michel Dossou, author to the blog. “Although still in its infancy, the site will eventually interview with contemporary artists.” Already, one can discover the work of advertiser Charles Dadi, founder and moderator of the forum Infografrik (infrografrik.ning.com), dedicated to African advertising.