Believing in Artistic Talent

Kenyan Artist Elijah Mungai

This business is about more than just fabric – it’s about creativity and artistic talents that cannot be denied any longer – that need to be unleashed and lived!

When I met Elijah, a sign writer, and got him on board as Simply Sandara’s first employee – I discovered something unique about him.

He really believed in his artistic talents and his ability to make a living doing what he loved.

He discovered his leaning towards art at 7 years old. He loved to draw and paint and has continued to do so for the past 20 years. He says,

“I’ve always had an inner belief that pursuing my artistic talents was not just a ‘waste of time’ (which is what everyone else thinks) but that it could earn me enough money to support my family.”

He received his first payment as an artist in 1991 for a signboard he’d designed and painted. This led to more sign writing and mural work. When things got slow with those – he painted portraits and screen printed T-shirts. All these things kept the bills paid and him working as an artist.

I met him handing out business cards for sign writing work. He joined Simply Sandara,

“…because he saw a new challenge and an opportunity to advance his art into new arenas.”

Elijah is a great artist – he has a wonderful illustrative style of drawing that’s so charming.

We believe wholeheartedly in fulfilling artistic urges, so – in our studio – we create art as regularly as possible, even if it doesn’t lead or evolve into anything special.

Elijah begun drawing African huts, rural African scenes as well as urban African scenes with black marker pens on normal A4 photocopy paper.

His drawings reminded me of Toile d’ Jouy fabric. So together we explored how we could create a similar fabric with his drawings to create a ‘Toile d’Afrique’ (an African spin on a traditionally European fabric). We came up with two designs; a rural one, Itura – meaning ‘community’ or ‘village’ in Kikuyu (Elijah’s native tongue); and an urban one, Gitaro – meaning ‘town’.

Below is a sneak peek at his Itura design that we’ll be launching online next month.

Kenyan Textile Design

Elijah continues to explore and build up artwork for his next collection of textile designs. He had this to say as a parting statement for this post:

“I feel good and impressed seeing my art out in the market place. I feel working here and designing fabrics in this way – is also motivation for other up-coming Kenyan artists – to see their art as something that can last – not something that just fulfills a basic need.

Many Kenyan artists don’t really value their art. But I believe that if you pursue your dream and your talents, it will come to pay in the end.”

If you’d like to be the first to know when Elijah’s designs launch online, please SIGN UP for our monthly ENews – it’s also packed with exclusive deals, limited edition items and helpful, inspiring info too! 🙂

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