Daddo OmutitiI : “My ambition is to change the face and narrative of our ghettos”
Published Saturday, 11 July 2020 | Daddo Omutiti by theSystem *
Tell us a bit about your background and how you got started as an Artist?
I am a graffiti writer and street artist since 2018, a member of the Spary Uzi and 43Tribes Graffiti Crew.
Did you always know that u’d get into art as a kid?
Yes and No coz my mom used to inspire me and support me but my dad was insisting on sticking to books.
Were you good in the academics ?
In my primary school levels yeah High School I was a average student.
Would you attribute you lose of focus in academics to your interest in Graffiti ?
Not really Graffiti alone but I was a Jack of all trades in High school was a good Sportsman, Dancer, Funkie holick and alot of peer pressure stuff.
How does being raise in Mathare and Huruma affect your work as an artist?
That ghetto mentality of being rude and all that gang stuff, was one of my main issues I had to tackle with and gladly I come from a strict family and with guidance from Smokillah that helped me to humble myself when dealing with clients or anyone else.
You’ve mentioned mentors , what is your relationship with mentorship and are you yourself a mentor to others?
I’m good company and a quick learner with time I got myself surrounded by mentors wherever I went to have a graff session and yes I’ve mentored and still mentoring when given the opportunity.
Lets talk about your latest project , Korogocho beautification mural project, when did it start and whats the story behind it and what do you want to achieve with it?
I started preparing it late last year, talking to them local youths but started the execution in this year around February.
I had moved to a crib in Koch and after some months of research and search for blank walls I thought of doing pieces on them mabatis since that’s what was available, and also wanted to change the mindsets of them local youths which has been a major part of the project for sure I’ve managed to touch some people and teaching them also how to use their talents as jobs.
My ambition is to change the face and narrative of our ghettos not just Korogocho alone and little by little we’re going there.
How do you fund this ambitious projects?
When I get to paint graffiti or mural commissions I take the remaining paints with me and use them up in the projects.
Also I collabo with the area youths to come in 50/50 on the materials.
But it takes time for some projects to happen due to the size of the surface maybe or how able them youths are!
What is the reception of graffiti in these residences is it a hustle to get people to come on board and whats the process ?
It’s hard really hard since we have to talk to the owner of the surface and explain to them what we’re gonna do with it, some ask for payments, some refuse but later on agree after seeing what we’ve painted to the other neighboring surfaces.
The youth members who also help me in scouting walls I always come clean to them and in such areas security is the main obstacle so at times I’m forced to dig into my pocket for some things to be taken care of.
Do you ever worry about tactics like artist superimposing on other artist works on walls or just people destroying the original work especially on walls that you may not have control over?
No I don’t because as a Graffiti artist I know and understand that my pieces won’t last long enough in some spaces and that is one of the things a graff artist should always keep in mind no wonder I always document my work and recently started my YouTube channel. At least you’ll have proof of doing the work and showing it to the world at the comfort of my seat.
How important is that documenting to you , i’m a huge fan of your work and you know as a publisher whos interested in creatives and as a creative myself i’m big on documenting , its the sole reason for this interviews , recording the times , what got you into this documentaries and whats the bigger picture in your terms?
I follow up some artists from European countries, Australia, London and I saw that they had one thing in common, that is documentation and not just documentation it’s GOOD DOCUMENTATION
And I had to do something similar to them but try keeping it local, I approached a production company called Black Clarity Pictures and shared with them my ideas we agreed on a fee and opened up a YouTube channel boom here we are
Since back then I was taking pictures and videos with my phone I realized they loose quality after sometime I just had to pull the stunt.
I like the fact that you emphasize on the quality , its important to set that standards if we aspire to be taken seriously as artists , who or what inspires you the most?
The Most High, My parents and family members, fellow Graffiti artists,close friends and the people who look up to me, It’s like I get inspiration from many people and things.
How do you value graffiti work, is it just like canvas paintings?
Depends on the size of the painting or surface and what’s being painted at times the period taken to paint is included in large commissions that is.
For canvas I always add up all the above together.
But art is expensive.
Do you merchandise your paintings?
I have that in my to-do list, hii corona ili haribu mipango, But I had done some Tee’s having my name tag written in sign language!
Do you consider yourself successful at this point since we are doing this ? and how do you define success as a graffiti artist , is it money, fame , critical acclaim or what is your perception of making it as a Graffiti artist specifically?
No not yet!
I can put it as Reaching out my satisfactions in the little things I do I can’t ignore that money is part of my satisfactions but we can never get enough of it.
I used to have this in mind when I started doing Graff
Owning a house,a car , a personal studio, having a good wife and kids and running a company or something! Bringing in that extra bag!
Is the an industry that governs Graffiti artist that you are a part of or do you just operate within crews and how valuable is that?
Being in a crew is more beneficial since it’s easier to get more commissions from corporates.
Do you feel like you guys need a governing body or you are just okay running things by yourselves?
Sorry to say this but The government system is fucked up with hungry officials eating up what’s not theirs, I prefer running things our own way.
I couldn’t agree more with you on this, we have a problem within the system , corruption is actually the biggest conundrum in culture today , well besides being neglected by the Government what other challenges are you facing to bring your ideas to fruition or to get that bag?
Spray paints get to shoot prices at times inakuanga tricks to purchase. Mainly ni hio prices za paints changing dramatically bila kuja kumbe uli under quote.
I see, so that the prices fluctuate and it becomes problematic in your pricing,
What is your philosophy in life and work?
I don’t expect anything thus not being disappointed.
What should we be excited about from you in the future?
Large murals, Graffiti classes and my Graffiti shows (exhibition) more bridges to be built, And a Graffiti festival which we have started as a session with my fellow Crew mate Mutua arts called Safe Space Graffiti.
What impact do you wan to make with your work?
Create opportunities to them artists looking up to me and those around me.
What do you make of the creative culture in Kenya today , do you think its advancing , stagnant or redundant or retrogressive and in what ways is that?
It’s increasing Each day more Graffiti murals are being painted maybe through corporate commissions or solo paintings.
More artists are coming up and being guided by them experienced artists and our community keeps growing.
What is your advice to emerging artist ?
Pray and Do your thing though it will take time trust the process!
This interview has been edited and condensed for purpose of clarity and precision, we value your time.