Monday, 30 January 2012


On January 1st, 2012, the Nigerian government removed fuel subsidy creating a lot of reactions from Nigerians home and aboard, in less than 48hrs, what started as an avatar on twitter moved beyond bothers and became the Identity for the Occupy Nigeria protests. Circulated via twitter, facebook, BBM  and other social media platforms, the logo became the mark for the people's struggle, It became our twitter avatar, BBM display pictures, and facebook profile pictures, It took me a while to arrange an interview with the man behind the occupy Nigeria logo the most popular movement logo in the history Nigeria and beyond, Zakari Ahmadu.

OluyomiOjo: Who is Zakari Ahmadu?

ZA: My name is Zakari Ahmadu, my father is from a village on the banks of River Niger in Kogi state while my mother was from Abangana in Njikoka LGA, Anambra, she passed four days before my NYSC passing out, on the Lokoja-Abuja express way which the government has abandoned for years, so you see why I'm very involved in the protests. I was borned in Kaduna, studied Agricultural Education in Ahmadu Bello University. I am presently teaching primary one pupils art and computer. i am a self trained graphic artist.

OluyomiOjo: Tell us about the Occupy Nigeria logo, your motivation and how it came into existence.

ZA: It all started with the fuel subsidy removal, GEJ's New Year gift to Nigeria. The next day, I went with my wife to the protest at Eagle Square, signed the register only for us to be harrased and teargased. I was so pissed at how insensitive the government was to attack peaceful protesters and even arrest the organisers. I got home, took my asthma medicine and decided to get other people to see how inept our government was - This i did via my facebook page. The logo which was inspired by the global symbol of the occupy protest and black history organisation. I never knew it was going to become the official logo for the Occupy Nigeria protests. I put it up as my Blackberry display picture and my facebook profile page, got in touch with Zainab Usman who was one of the organisers of the Occupy protests, the rest till this moment, still got me dumbfounded. The logo started appearing everywhere, people started visiting my page to download the logo, so i kept developing high resolution image for different states that joined and uploaded them to the occupyNigeria page. It was then i realised i did not even add name, or contact on the images. But my greatest joy is that it was accepted. The point is that Nigerians used the logo to effect change, and I got lucky everyone used my logo.

    Zakari with Mallam Elrufai

OluyomiOjo: Have you recieved any referral based on the logo, has it produced any promotional result for you?

ZA: yeah, one major one was a call from an Airline company upnorth, was on my way there
when the Kano bombings started. Got other projects showing up here in Abuja, but beyond this projects, it's my joy to have my work out there, making change. It's a beautiful humbling thing to be part of.

OluyomiOjo: Any advice for other young creatives?

ZA: sure, channel all your energy, life, hate, disappointments, joy and anger into creative channels. Creativity is beyond paper qualifications.
Preparation+opportunity = success.

OluyomiOjo: Thank you very much Zakari, it really was a wonderful time chatting with you.

Dear freelancer, Design is serious business

I started my creative career as freelancer, really those days where interesting, but then the need to open a creative studio became inevitable. My experience as a freelancer has taught me that though money sometimes does not drive the best ideas, good design is also not free. Running your business as a freelancer attracts overheads as well, you have internet bills to pay (being in design business without good internet is a sign of no business), transportation and promotional costs, electricity bills and in an environment like Nigeria, you have to fuel a generator with unsubsidized fuel, so while you are thinking of that great idea, It is important to understand basic tips to keep the Naira flowing in, or perhaps, the Dollars.

  • There's no free in freelance. While you will be ready to free projects your works out there, it is important that to let the client understand the value of what you are giving them even if they are not paying for it. Free projects are inevitable as sometimes they could turn out to be the most rewarding, but it is also important to communicate the worth of your skill.
  • Don't cheapen yourself by jumping at every paying project. The truth is that the project is paying doesn't mean it is worth your skill. Taking project strictly for money instead of creative opportunity turn out to be bad experiences.
  • Good design is not cheap, cheap design is not good.
  • Be proffesional, know your onions and perhaps, your tomatoes if needs be, put yourself in the position of the client, no one is ready to pay a premium for a poor servive.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Save more money, get a printer friend.

There is no doubt about it, when it comes to saving and making more money as a graphic artist, the printer is your friend. While you can do your best creating outstanding branding and marketing materials, the final output of print projects depends wholly on the printer handling them for you.

No matter how great your design, if the printing doesn't bring it to life, all your creative brilliance is for naught. The best way to ensure the final product is as good as you imagined is to create a proffesional relationship with a printer who cares about your projects as you do. Beyond producing good prints, a good printer can offer advice that can help you minimise cost of production right from the design stage thereby helping your clients save more money.

What makes a good printer?
  • Attention to details, expecially on issues finishing.
  • Making suggestions as to best paper stock to print with and how to reduce cost and still achieve outstanding results.
  • Willingness to sit down and discuss with you when all you have is your brief, not just grabbing print ready finished artworks and running with it.
  • He treats you well when you visit his press. My printer knows the best source of correct Amala and Ewedu in Lagos and i can tell you i always look forward to visiting his press to discuss print projects.


This video touched me... I think I should share it with you

Somtimes, it is not what we say that counts, it is our choice of words.

Time to collaborate

Sadly, creatives often view other creatives as nothing but competitors for clients, projects or recognition. I find it ridiculous how creatives sometimes hoard ideas, insights and resources just to have an edge over one another. This is not just unhealthy for our industry It is also unhealthy for creatives as well. Having allies and colleages you collaborate with is incredibly valuable. To stay active and creative, it is important to share ideas and leverage on the strength of other creatives.

Ours is a wide industry in which i believe you cannot know it all, you will always need the skills, resources and contacts of others. As a graphic designer, you simply cannot do without collaborating with a photographer, a typographer, a print expert, a fashion designer, a copywriter.

To enjoy creative collaborations:
  • Keep in touch with your design school friends (that's if you attended one)
  • Make new friends everyday.
  • Be good at what you do so you always have something to offer
  • Be ready to offer help to other creatives
  • Take design courses, attend seminars and industry events and keep in keep in touch with everyone you meet.
  • Try to always put a call through to people that matter to you even if you don't need them yet.
  • Make friends with people outside your industry.
  • Know your limit.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Twelve logos in five minutes

A couple of months ago, I read David Airey's LOGO DESIGN LOVE, in which he illustrated our interaction with logos by taking photographs of logos he interacts with daily, and to his surprise, he photographed 33 logos in 33 minutes. So I decided to do the same on a Monday morning but this time, restricted my photographs to my office, I decided to take photographs of as many logos I can notice around me. 

I started  with the Honda calendar on the wall, the LG air-conditioning unit, my Zenith bank cheque book, the MTN  and Etisalat recharge cards i bought on my way to the office, a wine gift from a client, my Blackberry phone and to my amusement, I photographed twelve logos in five minutes. Logos are all over our lives, they bombard us every second. What this simply means is that a logoless business is a faceless business, but beyond creating logos, our work as graphic designers is not to create decorative logos, but rather to create logos that tells stories, logos that connects with the emotion of the client's target audience.
So next time you are creating a logo for a client, look beyond the client's competitor's logo, undertand that your logo will compete with other logos as they will all fight for relevance.

...Pardon me for the poor photo quality, the shots were taken with my phones 2.0 MP camera.