I recall my days at art school and the often opposing camps of fine art students versus design students. The latter thought that the former had an easy ride, essentially doing whatever they wanted. A designer by training, who dabbles in a lot less ‘fine art’ than she’d like, I must say that I have mad respect for artists who are good at what they do. It takes a lot of drive, as well as vision and – what many don’t appreciate – intelligence. The art that resonates most with me is clever, critical and inventive.

As I grow as a designer and business owner, I discover that there are opportunities for me to satisfy the fine artist within me, in a design context. I think it is the self-directed enquiry and focus on process over outcome that especially appeals and I realise that these desires and objectives can be expressed through a wide range of creative acts.

This year the grand mission at the company I co-own, Asilia, is to make more of our own stuff. As a creative agency that works with clients, this means dedicating more of our time to working on our self-initiated projects and finally getting to execute the myriad ideas we’ve been incubating forever. 3 months into the year and we’re not doing too badly. Here are a couple of things we’ve recently launched:


Inspired by and inspiring digital Africa, Afriapps began a little over 2 years ago as a platform to showcase great African apps and African app developers. We gave Afriapps some love at the start of this year, relaunching it with a new identity and responsive website. Importantly, we’ve now also expanded its scope beyond just apps, to look at digital technology in general. As well as a blog and curated apps directory, the site provides information about events, features a jobs board and houses several quality resources (including free ebooks and mobile apps that we’ve created ourselves).



Project Web 

We’ve witnessed and heard about a lot of grief related to creating great websites. Having created over 40 in under 3 years, for clients large and small, worldwide, we thought we’d share our experience and tips in a more formal way. On the 10th of April, we will be holding ‘Project Web‘ – a one-day course in executing successful website projects – in Nairobi. The course is ideal for designers, developers, project/account managers, students and other web enthusiasts. It’s the first in a training series that we plan to develop over the year, including creating online courses for those further afield.


It is our hope that these projects will inspire and empower other designers and more digital creative acts.


Are you working on any side/self-initiated projects? What tips can you share for making the time to nurture them?