Name: Ezra Barsil Otieno
Occupation: Visual artist (Illustrator) and graphic designer
Location/ Base:Trinnsy Graphics and Publications
SocialMedia or Website Links:www.facebook.com/barsildesigns
I am Ezra BarsilOtieno. I am a Kenyan visual communicator.
I am a Graphic Designer by profession and a versatile visual artist by passion.
I offer a range of visual communication services including:
• Designing services of: logos, posters, fliers, banners, business cards, magazines, promotional items among others.
• Illustration services of: observation and imaginative compositions using a variety of media such as: pencils, bic, paints, charcoal among others.
One of my logo designs won the Non State Actors Network- Kenya logo design Competition in 2011.
One of my paintings (Nairobizzy) received judges’ award under the students’ category in March 2016.
Currently I am based at Trinnsy Graphics and Publications.
I was born in 1992 in a Christian family. Raised at Nyalenda in Kisumu, last born in a family of eight. During my early days I would escape from home and flee to my cousins at a distant estate where we would play together, model using clay and draw together using pencils, bics or even sticks on ground. While a child I was a Jack of all trades.
My cousins: Moses, William, Elly and Yona and I enjoyed drawing famous personalities of those days in who included: Arnold Schwarzenegger, AwiloLogomba, Akshay Kumar and many others. We would then photocopy and keep our drawings.
While at P.A.G Nyalenda Nursery School, my teacher Miss Caroline encouraged me to draw as she had seen the passion in me. At the age of six, at Greenview Academy (1996-1999) my classmate Roy who was a very passionate artist accompanied me in drawing a lot while the teachers were away. In 2001, I was transferred to Kassagam Primary School. I met Billups Omido who was my classmate. We practiced drawing together as young boys who shared a passion. In 2002, I was transferred to Pinocchio Academy Kisumu where I met good friends: Keith and Eliud. We drew a lot together. Art was in the school’s curriculum, this encouraged us to draw a lot. We participated in the Kiwi drawing competition for primary schools and won courtesy of our school.
I was later transferred to Nyabondo Boys Boarding Primary School in 2003, where I met Kevin. He was a versatile artist and this was the reason for our friendship. We drew together when teachers did not turn up for the lessons. We drew out of passion since art was not in the School’s curriculum. We practiced drawing comic book characters. Kevin was later transferred to a different school and this is when I could practice all alone during any free time I found. This earned me some painful strokes from the senior master of the school during those days.
I would recreate my own free times to practice drawing including late in the night. I became famous among my fellow students for drawing. My Mathematics teacher Mr. Wycliffe Ochieng’ utilized my passion to enable me develop interest and perform well in Mathematics which was once my worst subject. The deputy head teacher Mr. Abuom spots my talent. He commissions me to illustrate posters for a wedding ceremony. He paid me loaves of bread for each poster I illustrated.
In 2007, I joined Kisumu Day High School, where my Art teacher Mr. Elisha Ongere and I was the best of friends. My colleagues Felix Akoko and Kevin Videnyi collaborated and cooperated with me in drawing. This was during the Post-Election Violence in Kenya and it was harsh in Kisumu. We won various Art and Design Interschool contests. We did most of imaginative and observation artworks. I was commissioned to illustrate two art pieces for the school. I would draw over the night during the weekends. I was also a very passionate active member of the school’s music club. Which saw my colleagues and I perform nationally. I never retained many of my pieces that I drew in high school. The teacher retained them due to the versatility in their executions. Mum was very supportive, she offered me all I needed to nurture my illustration habbits.
In 2010 after I had cleared my form four, mum left me in charge of the family business (New Kachok Timber Yard) where I would run the sales the whole day. This always kept me busy. However I could paint on canvas (when the customers were not available) which I sold to my friends. I deferred the chance to study Law at Bondo University, as I wanted to further my study in Art and design. This did not make my dad happy. I met a wall branding company that was carring out a branding process in Kisumu by then. I joined the team of wall painters and sign writers. I was paid a salary of Kshs. 200 per day.
Recognition in the Domain/Field
In 2011 April, I won the Non State Actors Network Kenya Ministry of (Justice and National Cohesion) logo competition. I was happy to see my name appear in the Standard newspaper as among the winners of the logo competition.
In December of the same year, I collaborated with John Obiero, set up Immortal Arts and Design studio that dealt in signwriting, painting and artifacts. The studio became famous within the Nyalenda Estate and even in Kisumu as a whole. However my partner and I had different missions, so I operated outside the studio most of the times. I was deeply engaged in wall brandings of: UNICEF (Wash your hands advert.), Gotv, Coca Cola (Burudikana Coke Baridi) among many others. I also got various contracts to rebrand various schools within Kisumu. All this while by the help of my sister, Roselyne(who by then was at the University of Nairobi), I had been travelling all the way from Kisumu to Nairobi to check with The Technical University of Kenya, if I could study Graphic Design. Most of the times I was never given the chance to apply. I never gave up I would run my businesses back n Kisumu and get to Nairobi to confirm whether I could get a chance to apply for my campus study till in the long run in 2012, I got the chance to join the Technical University of Kenya to study Technology Design.
When I joined campus my parents took it serious and began supporting me in all I did pertaining my design course study. I refused to reside in the hostels as I wanted my own space to paint and draw without and so they supported me. I was famous my fellow students and even lecturers for drawing. This saw me offer portrait illustration services to various clients who my fellows introduced me to.
My friend PhanuelMaroa and I would practice illustration and graphic design in and out of class, he is more of an innovator and so we shared various ideas and attended various workshops and mentorship programs that enlightened us on: creativity, innovation and technology.
My lecturer Sir James, influenced and encouraged me as during his lectures, we would visit the various creatives such as: The GoDown Arts to share with both the visual and performing artists, Kuona Trust, Artist Justus Kyalo, Artist Gomba at Kibera and many other places that enhanced the creativity in us.
While in my third year in 2014, Phanuel introduced me to Island Corporates Solutions Limited (a firm that offered advertising and branding services). I got employed a an Art director to collaborate with the painters and sign writers to achieve the approved designs of the East African Portland Cement on the exterior walls of various buildings within the country. I worked from (2014- 2015). All this while balancing my education in campus, illustration services and working.
Among the lecturers who influenced my skills were: Madam Abby Ameleya and Madam GanetteOlunya
In September 2015, Phanuel and I worked as interns at the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation Television as Motion graphic designers. We cleared the internship program and part ways. I became a freelancer to offer: portrait illustration and graphic design service.
After I had cleared my Technology Design course from The Technical University of Kenya in 2015, I registered my business, Barsil Designs that deals in: Graphic design and general illustration services.
The better part of January 2016, I was commissioned to illustrate drama backdrops for the various institutions including: Embu College and Upperhill School.
In 2016, February I participated I the Manjano Visual Arts Exhibition and received the judges award.
In June 2016, I realized that I need to broaden my business, I was referred to a private so I settled for employment at Trinnsy Graphics and Stationers to keep up with the graphic design standards in the field and also to get funds to boost my illustration business of the many projects I have; and above all to be stable.
To constantly produce creative, addressive and expressive visual content in Africa.
To offer empathetic visual communication solutions on daily visual interactions challenges in Kenya.
18 Months Plan
Network with visual professional artists, people from different fields. Observe what they do and learn from their works.
Conduct a market research on visual arts industry in Africa and the World as a whole. Then narrow down to illustration industry.
Do a [practical illustration study (documentary) Of human beings of all genders with the new skills.
Market Research Graphic Design in Kenya, Africa and the World as a whole. With an intention of creating unique designs.
Generate my own unique designs. Transform brands identities and other activities based on the results I found.
Execute and digitize some of my illustrations and innovate them to unique content.