What you need to know:
- To be able to successfully undertake these endeavours also demands having a lot of endurance and ability to solve problems. I once worked in civil engineering on contract, but my heart is now fully immersed in animations.
- First of all, I did not imagine that the two would become a craze. Creating the duo allowed me a lot of creative latitude, which is largely the reason their success has been sustainable.
- I am proud to have been part of a team that worked on a project co-owned by the BBC and Disney. I however worked with these entities through their agents.
You are inarguably one of the best animation mavens in Kenya and in the region. How does this status make you feel? Pride? Conquest? Exhilaration?
I feel excited and proud of it. I do not, however, dwell much on successful projects because I am constantly looking forward to taking on the next big challenge in animation.
You studied Civil Engineering in the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, but ended up working in the creative industry. What is the connection between the two faculties?
The existing relationship is not direct, but a course in engineering and being in creative animations both require a high level of discipline and concentration.
To be able to successfully undertake these endeavours also demands having a lot of endurance and ability to solve problems. I once worked in civil engineering on contract, but my heart is now fully immersed in animations.
What two decisions in your 20s do you regret most?
I probably would not have bought my first car so soon because it robbed me of my attention to more important things. If I could go back in time, I would focus on animations from the get-go! I would not attempt to go the way of civil engineering.
Why are we not getting 10-year-old Kenyans selling their apps to Google for millions? Five-year-olds in America are hacking top-security systems. Nine-year-olds in India are developing stunning apps.
What are our children doing instead? Parents and guardians should keep an eye on their children and identify what draws their attention, support them and invest in them as much as possible.
How much was your first saving?
From my first employment at Tinga Tinga Tales and a few jobs I did on the side, I managed to save Sh1.5 million.
This money helped me to start up Fatboy Animations.
More and more youth in Kenya are pursuing IT-related courses. Products created by most of these technicians, however, usually lack any distinctive qualities. How can this situation be remedied?
There is exemplary talent among the Kenyan youth. I think they just get overexcited when they realise what they can do. They drown in this excitement until they forget to work. The result is a shoddy job. There is a saying that goes; genius is 99 per cent hard work and only 1 per cent talent.
After university you worked with Ogilvy, BBC and Disney World on various projects. You then set up Fatboy Animations, which has been highly sought-after by businesses in Kenya. What star qualities do you attribute these successes to?
I am proud to have been part of a team that worked on a project co-owned by the BBC and Disney. I however worked with these entities through their agents.
It is only at Ogilvy where the role was more direct. Working at top levels such as these allows you to interact with highly professional people through whom you are able to learn skills, commitment to a project and work ethics.
These engagements were an eye opener for me, and a turnaround in my career. My ability to keenly observe, readiness to learn and a penchant for excellence is what has seen me get to where I am today.
Tell us about the famous “Faimba” and “Mbugua” characters. How did you conceptualise them? Did it occur to you that their reception would be this phenomenal?
First of all, I did not imagine that the two would become a craze. Creating the duo allowed me a lot of creative latitude, which is largely the reason their success has been sustainable. The two mirror people in my own experiences. Interacting with people also gives me incredible ideas, which, together with my team we weave around the client’s own concept to come up with something that gets everyone talking. I have even seen posters of political aspirants with “Mbugua” as a mascot.
You have demonstrated a great zeal for animated feature film. Is Kenya on the right track to produce her own feature film?
Definitely! Kenya has the competence to produce her own feature films and rake in billions from it. We just need the right investors, financial and technical support to do so. And not just feature films, but also short films and series. The entertainment world is rapidly changing, and the large audience online is good news to creators of content.
For how many hours do you work on any given day? How do you spend your time away from work?
The kind of projects we are contracted to do require sacrifice and commitment to complete. I like to push the limits of my schedule by creating extra hours in my everyday schedule to dedicate my energy and attention to ensure that these projects are finished on time and in the most desirable quality. But in between projects, I spare time to travel, and you will often find me at the Mara and Amboseli parks. Other than that, I spend time sleeping. It rejuvenates the mind, which comes in handy when I get back to work.
Is there any programme within your organisation that grooms young creatives? Do you offer internship opportunities to graduates?
Guidance is important for growth in any technical field. I have been receiving lots of requests from young techies who wish to join our team. We are working on that, and soon we will start offering internships.
What would you tell young animators who are trying to make their imprint in the country’s digital space?
Be ready to sacrifice, especially when you are young. You have less to sacrifice, so do it now. Forget the weekend plots, the alcohol, the weed and other timewasters. I recommend www.digitaltutors.com. It is one of the best sites that will improve your creative skills.