CENTER STAGE: Dicky Jr – the Designer who’s new ‘Kenya Currency’ Is Impressive
CENTRE STAGE on Nate’s Crest is a column that seeks to circumnavigate Kenya and the East African region in search of insight from leaders, visionaries and progenitors in the creative industry.
The Central Bank of Kenya has released new legal tender, following months of speculation over what Kenya’s for-long envisioned redesigned currency would look like. Clean-cut, edgy and modern designs crept into the interwebs last year that the bold Euro-centric designs were what Kenyans had been waiting for, only to learn that this vibrant vision was only the work of a talented master graphic artist, Dicky Jr.
Dicky has over 9 years of experience in the creative realm, having at one time been a Creative Manager, as well as a Senior Animator with Radio Africa Group, based in Nairobi. He’s responsible, partly or otherwise, for a host of stunning conceptual campaigns including a redesign of the KISS TV branding, as well as, according to a portfolio available on Behance, work with an internationally recognized premium vodka.
I took the chance of having his work in the limelight to find out what this reserved yet talented visual maestro thinks about graphic design, what inspired him to execute this project, as well as establish what makes him tick. Here’s what he had to say:
Nate’s Crest: You have numerous years of graphic design experience: how did you start out, what was your defining moment, and what was the most difficult design challenge for you in recent years?
DJ: Well, I actually started out as a Junior Graphic designer about 10 years ago and I’m glad to say that I’ve slowly built up the knowledge as well as the capacity to be able to do the kind of work you see today. My most difficult challenge as a designer happens to be designing for myself, which increasingly, and most recently, has been designing for AfricanStockPhoto.com, which I co-founded.
Nate’s Crest: Looking at your Behance profile, one would notice your specialty in logo work, and more importantly a journey of transition from what appears as simpler designs, to more complex compositions. Has this been the case, or is there a deeper process you’ve gone through?
DJ: I think the evolution of my work is just a natural transition. It was never really a conscious decision to make more ‘complex’ work. That was just a consequence of taking on more challenging projects. I still, however, prefer simple solutions even for the most complex of briefs.
A piece from Dicky Jr’s Portfolio ‘If KE Logos were Honest’ available on Behance
Nate’s Crest: Do you have a love for controversy in your designs, or is that what makes them even more appealing? – I say this looking at the ‘If KE logos were Honest’ portfolio, and by extension the Kenyan shilling designs which are gaining a lot of traction.
DJ: My designs aren’t at all controversial. I like to think that I’m a funny guy, so I place lots of humor in my design work occasionally. As for the currency project [which happens to be causing waves currently across social media] , I think it just resonated with Kenyans for some reason.
Nate’s Crest: A lot of creatives complain that clients give astronomical briefs and expect astronomical results within a short period of time, and with a less ambitious budget. Do you agree? And what has been your experience with local clients, their briefs and their expectations?
DJ: This happens all around the world and in all industries. People paying for goods or services always expect more than they paid for. My advice would be to just be firm when negotiating, provide good value and always deliver on time.
Nate’s Crest: Is there a time you felt you failed in your work? If so, how did you recover, and how do you keep yourself inspired and authentic in your creations?
DJ: Of course yes! I’ve ran print ads and billboards with spelling mistakes. whispering I once got my employer sued. I’ve also failed to meet deadlines and experienced creative block just like many other creatives – It’s all just a part of the process.
Nate’s Crest: Lastly, could you expound on your ‘Kenyan Shilling’ portfolio? What currencies influenced your graphic direction, how long did it take you to develop the pieces and what software do you use often?
DJ: For that particular project, I researched quite a few currencies. Many in fact that have already been mentioned on social media; like the Euro and the Rand. But I also studied the Malaysian notes, the Norwegian currency and and a host of other similar design projects around the world. It took me about a week on and off to come up with this and was designed primarily in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
Dicky clearly states below the portfolio that ‘The Modern Shilling’ project is NOT sanctioned by the Central Bank of Kenya, and is simply a creation of his, envisioning the possibility of what a new currency for the republic will look like.
Pieces from Dicky Jr’s ‘The Modern Shilling’ Project, available on Behance
Dicky’s online graphic design portfolio can be viewed at this LINK