Hello, and welcome back to yet another edition of Diversity in Design, a series here at Envato Tuts+! This is an ongoing exploration and collection of designers, illustrators, and other creative professionals—each of them with a different focus, from different disciplines, cultures, and backgrounds.
Celebrating and observing the unique creative voice of our peers can be very rewarding; there’s so much we can share and learn from one another! Not to mention, it can be super inspiring to listen in and take a look at what other creative folks are up to!
Let’s take a look and a listen, together.
4 Artists You Should Know: Diversity in Design
So, without further ado, let’s check out this month’s featured creators—some of their inspiring works, as well as their insights, perspective, and thoughts on content creation.
Tim Gichuru (Bénir)
I’m Tim Gichuru, a self-taught digital artist and graphic designer born and bred in Nairobi, Kenya with a bachelors degree in business information technology.
I started out with the name Bénir which means bless because no matter what project I do, I’d like to dedicate it to the audience who are challenged in one way or another.
To me, life doesn’t have a straight path, we’re kind of pushed to run through this hurdles and bumps to reach where we want to be.
I always aim to bring stories to life through my work and kind of twist realism to the unimaginable.
My creative process [starts] with a scribble to kind of visualize the idea that I have. I usually have a lot of ideas and I have to capture them in a note book. After this, I start the design process.
What I would tell other creatives is: persistence is key to everything. I started out digital art and most of my friends were wondering why I’m doing this and I wont have any lucrative advantage in the end.
But believe me, everything works out. I’ve been able to achieve so many things that I never thought I’d have.
You can check out more of Bénir’s wonderful work here:
Jace “Kiwi” M.
My name is Jace (but I also go by “Kiwi” online). I’m a Canadian background painter for animation, illustrator, and sequential artist living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I make colourful illustrations and my work often focuses on LGBTQ+ themes, identity and magic. I’m currently working on a webcomic, Summertime Girlfriends, that is about a young woman who falls in love with a mermaid.
I want to create work that is fun and full of love, while also exploring how we move through life and create bonds with one another. I have a deep attachment to stories that explore vulnerability in a brave way and I aspire to work on stories like that.
My goals include creating and boosting LGBTQ+ stories and artwork, as well as doing whatever I can to help other artists and creatives. I think it’s important to put as much support as you can back into the industry you belong to so you can make space and boost new voices within it.
I would describe my creative process as a cross between perseverance, passion and continuous learning. I’m so inspired by work that is being created today by my peers. With increasing access to professional grade tools and information online, there is this wonderful boom of beautiful work in indie comics and illustration that I find awe-inspiring. There’s something about seeing all of this incredibly raw and vulnerable art that makes me think, “Yes! I want to be a part of this!”
Make what you love and the rest will follow. Meet and make friends with your peers in the industry. Be excited to grow your work together and support each other. There is no “correct” way to enter the industry (which can be frustrating), but please know that there is space for you and your work. You’ve got this!
Check out more of Kiwi’s inspiring work here:
I’m Feonix! I’m a self taught non-binary Canadian embroiderer. My personal work tends to focus on clothing. I use old clothes I’ve thrifted and work with them to make artworks you wouldn’t usually expect from the medium. I almost always stick to line work for large pieces, with heavy contrast and bright colours.
It all started as a form of self-expression. The end goal is just to look cool, really. To decorate myself with things that I like, and that make me happy. I never had a goal of doing this professionally, since it just started as a hobby, but then people took notice and got interested. A lot of people started wanting my work on their own things. Which still blows my mind a bit, making things specifically that I liked and didn’t expect anyone else to take notice in, and then having people want to identify with it to the world too.
The brunt of my inspiration comes from music I love. I’m a musician myself, and I’m completely entrenched in it. In the beginning I started with just band logos on my clothes, and then over time it developed into artworks based around songs or lyrics that just got bigger and grander.
It usually starts with me wanting to do something based off a specific artist or song, picking a lyric to work off, and then seeing where my heart takes me from there. I heavily lean towards the brightest colours I can find, contrasting them with black and white. A lot of the finishing touches are also based in geometry – I have a bit of a secret love for geometric shapes.
Stick with [your creative pursuits]. Try to do something a little bit out of your comfort zone with each project, and see how it turns out- mistakes are vital when it comes to improving.
You can check out more of Feonix’s wonderful work right here:
Although I do mostly UI / UX design, I often describe myself as a “Pixel Pusher”. The reason being that I’ve worked in startups for the last 5-6 years. And I worked for a long time as their only designer in the team. Which often meant I needed to work on the actual digital product / app but in addition: landing pages, marketing materials, prints, explanation videos, illustrations, infographics, and more.
And I’m a firm believer that a designer can do a lot of stuff. So you are not just a logo designer, landing page designer, children illustrator etc. The process is fairly similar – 1. understand the fundamentals; 2. Do the research; 3. Sketch and iterate somehow; 4. Come up with a good-enough design.
I’d like to make my clients and their users happy. I love the external validation – which is probably not a good thing, but for me when a client says “I love it” or returns to me with another project down the road – THIS IS GOLD.
My creative goals are to expand beyond visual design – maybe storytelling, blogging etc. And in my personal life I have different financial goals, fitness goals, travel goals, family goals etc. I think it’s important to have different buckets for stuff that are important to you and at least have a direction for each.
I’m really not the best example of a good process. Although, I spoke at a design event here in Sofia, Bulgaria and I asked who has a similar chaotic process to mine. I was pleasantly surprised that I’m not alone – most of the room raised their hands. If I need to break it down I have 3 phases:
Pre-Create – Getting into the right mindset & being inspired – Browsing Dribbble, Behance, Pinterest and other galleries get my interest and juices going. Then I do research on the particular thing I need to design and gather references, usually in the same places I mentioned.
Create – It’s all chaos. First I drop in all the content and start pushing it, moulding it, figuring out a layout right there on the canvas. I think of it more like sculpture than traditional “step by step” process. Granted – sometimes I do sketches and wireframes first.
Adjust – Once I have something I’m okay with I do a “History Snapshot” if I’m in Photoshop or duplicate the canvas if I’m somewhere else and do adjustments / iterations.
Since I’m a co-host of a Design Podcast a few things come up fairly often. Here are some:
Freelance or Business growth – Be friendly and network often… online or in person.
Most of my early work came from people around me that knew what I did. And Jordan Peterson says something like “If you know 100 people, you are one person away from knowing 100 000 people because each of them knows 100, too”. So make sure everybody knows what you do and don’t reject work if you have none.
In terms of design skills – Learn the fundamentals & your software.
Design fundamentals have been written centuries ago – learn them. Things like composition, layout, contrast, gestalt principles for design, color theory etc. And when you open the software of choice it should feel like home. You should know where everything is all the necessary shortcuts, you should feel comfortable moving stuff around quickly, testing different layouts, not being scared etc.
Check out more of Anton’s work right here:
Do You Know an Artist We Should Know About?
I’d like to extend a big, heartfelt thank you to Bénir, Kiwi, Feonix, and Anton for sharing their wonderful work, their insights, and their thoughts with us today! It’s so inspiring to take a look at the work of other creatives and listen in on their process and inspiration. You are so inspiring! Thank you!
Again, you can check out more of their work here:
Do you know of an artist or designer that you think we should feature? Let us know down below in the comments, or use the hashtags #tutsplusdesign and #artforall on Instagram and Twitter!
Check out some of the previous entries in this series: