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Meet the artist with a midas touch

Eugene Odhiambo is an artist in the matatu industry and owner of Kallaz Art, a design company. He shares his journey in the business.

When did you get into matatu designing?

In 2005. I was still in primary school and I used to sell simple matatu design concepts to established designers such as Elijah, the owner of Auto Cream. My major first job in designing a matatu was in 2014.

Do you only focus on nganyas?

Art is diverse, and so, due to its flexibility, I do art work on various platforms such as murals in corporate offices, customising Tshirts and branding personal or company vehicles, thus, expanding my market for growth of my company.

How would you describe the services you offer?

It is about bringing to life a client’s idea through art. As a company, we are skilled in various ways and we employ our creativity to satisfy our clients’ needs.

Are you a lone ranger in this?

Not at all. I have partnered with a few people who help and motivate me in various ways in the business.

What’s the source of your materials?

Mostly in Nairobi CBD, River Road area, Industrial Area and on some occasions, we import a few art equipment from online markets.

Things you need to a satisfactorily complete a task?

A good quality pair of earphones for motivational music, my favourite K3 airbrush, spray gun and a satisfied client who believes in my work.

How much do you charge?

It depends on the type of work at hand. You can’t put a price on works of skill. I charge fairly and reasonably.

How many matatus have you worked on?

I have worked on 28 matatus so far.

How long does it take to work on one?

It can take two to three days to pimp a 14-seater. A 33-seater can take a week or a week and a half to complete it’s design.

What are your challenges?

I have to always convince my clients that I’m good at what I do and give them every reason they should choose Kallaz Art. I think due to my young age, clients always doubt my capabilities. Sometimes they assume that I’m inexperienced because I’m young. Another hassle is breech of contracts when you have to run after clients due to delayed payments. Lastly, it is those who try to replicate my designs and style of work.

Then that means you are good at it. Right?

I agree, but then, I work hard from conceptualisation to bringing the art to life. No one should ride on another’s creativity. They should strive to be original.

Your best moments in the business so far?

My first branded matatu was known as Madcity, which plied route 237, to and from Thika town. It was the best feeling because I knew I had a future in the industry.

Who is your biggest competitor?

Myself. I challenge myself in so many ways in order to achieve various and unique types of visual artworks.

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