Ssanyu Sematimba

Graphic designer and photographer Ssanyu Sematimba was one of the speakers we hosted at our first Young African creatives Conference that took place in June. We caught up with her to chat about her studies, design work and her love of instagram.

Please introduce yourself and tell us what you do 

Ssanyu: My name is Ssanyu Sematimba, I was born in Uganda and raised in South Africa. I am currently finishing my honours year in Graphic Design at Greenside Design Center. I found inspiration in all things African.

What does a normal day look like for you?

Ssanyu: As I mentioned I am an honours student, I would like to make up something about how my days are filled with lovely adventures, but I am at my desk for the majority of my day. Although I may be at my desk, I would like to think that I am constantly looking at things that inspire me. I absolutely LOVE Instagram, and Pinterest, and I love reading blog posts. So if I am not working on my honours projects, or designing something I am always looking out for some sort of inspiration or probably planning my next Instagram post.

CN: Tell us a bit about your work and what you hope people take away from it. What is your creative process, talk us through it? 

Ssanyu: I would personally like people to catch a glimpse of Africa in my design. No matter what I design I love to make sure that there is some form of African Aesthetic in my designs.

My design process always starts off with a brief or an idea. I need to know what my design challenge is, from there I begin to look at various design solutions for the design challenge. I then test and rule out the various design challenges that I have come up with, and this then normally leaves me with 2-3 design solutions. I am able to pick the best possible design solution. I then begin to look for inspiration; design styles, executions, idea’s etc. Once I have found my inspiration I begin to design,

CN: What are your thoughts on African identity? Does it influence your work?

Ssanyu: There isn’t a set “African identity”, we have African “identities” and that is what makes us unique. There are common factors in African identities that influence my work; Personality, “exoticness”, rawness, vibrancy, pride,

CN: You are a Design Indaba Emerging Creative, tell us about it.

Ssanyu: I entered the Design Indaba Emerging Creative with the lowest expectation, mainly because although I was confident in my work, I didn’t know if other people would understand or appreciate my work, because not a lot of people at my school design the way I do, so I wasn’t expecting anything. I submitted a portfolio of work that showcased who I was as an individual and as a creative. It just goes to show that your individuality sets you apart from the rest.  

Which African creative’s work have you been looking at lately? Selly Raby Kane, she's a Senegalese fashion designer. I've been looking at looking at her.

CN: What can we look forward to seeing from you soon? What are you working on currently?

Ssanyu: Honours honours and honours!

Well I am graduating in about 6 months!! I cannot wait, I have a secret project that I cannot mention just yet, but you’ll definitely hear about it if it actually happens, but either than that check out my Instagram page @justanthaafrican I’ll be ‘gramming some pretty cool stuff in and out of South Africa.

CN: What advice do you have for young African creatives? 

Ssanyu: Your individuality as a creative is just as important as your final outcome. Find your own creative voice. Don’t follow trends, make them.

What does creativity mean to you? Creativity is an expression of the extension of your identity. 

Follow Ssanyu on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website


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