Meet Kerosh (Part I)

Kerosh is a Kenyan Street Artist currently based at the Nairobi Railways Museum. I met him so that I could have a look at his pieces and also have  a conversation with him about his craft and this is what he had to say. I found this conversation so interesting and inspiring so because a lot was said. I decided to post it in two parts.

WAI: How did you start?

Kerosh: I started sketching cars when I was around 3 years old. Nursery school drawing classes were my favorite. Once in pre unit we were asked to draw a ball and my friend drew a ball the way he saw a ball ( he pauses to  sketch what his friend drew) not the way we were taught to draw a ball ( he pauses to sketch how they were taught to draw it) and he got a tick.  (a tick was a big thing for a child that age).

It was an Aha! moment for me. I realized I did not have to strictly follow what we were taught but I could actually draw things the way I saw them.

The next time we were told to draw our family, I decided to draw my Dad. Essentially we were meant to draw the whole family. I did a detailed  drawing of my Dad instead making sure his shirt's pocket was fat to show the presence of lots of sweets for me. My teacher showed my piece to the whole class and boy was I happy.

At that tender age I started becoming very observant. When I saw anything interesting I would go home and draw it. I got a baby brother and all of a sudden I was not the center of attention anymore. To cope with the situation I continued drawing even more. My friends were fascinated with my work so they joined me.

We started challenging each other and one day a friend of mine drew a car with wheels all over. I told him a car cannot look like that but in his defense he told me his car cannot fall because in whatever position it would continue moving.It is from them that I learnt there were many ways of looking at things.

WAI : So what inspired you to become a Street Artist?

Kerosh: The street art done on the Nairobi Matatus fascinated me a lot when I was commuting to school. I was keen and I watched the art form evolve from simple stickers to grafitti oriented pieces. 

Back then the grafitti pieces were themed and very well thought out. They were proper design projects.The pieces were so surreal that people started spreading gossip that those Matatu owners were  "devil worshipers". 

I on the other hand was in awe and I wanted to use pictures to communicate a lot the way those pieces did. So while still in Primary school I started making Matatu stickers. People would ask me to give them the stickers but they would never return them.

Fun Fact: We all have a mischievous high school past . For Kerosh all his mischief revolved around art.

When in high school my only indiscipline was drawing. I would use morning and evening prep to draw and of course that reflected in my first year grades and I had to change schools. I remember my friends bringing left over chalk to me once the teacher left class so that I would use them to draw on the blackboard. Fridays were the best because once I drew a piece it would stay there for the whole weekend.

WAI: Speaking of school life. First I'd like to let you know how great it felt  reading in the United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) library after you guys painted the murals. It was an amazing feeling. Thank you for that. So as part of the team that did the murals. How was the whole experience for you?

Kerosh: Wow, I am happy to hear that.So this is how it started. A friend of mine called Wise 2 that I met at an event called Word and Pictures (WAPI) decided he wanted to give back to his Campus before he cleared school.

He figured a mural would be a good idea, so he approached the admin and they granted him permission to do the murals. He then came to me and told me about the idea and asked if I'd be interested in joining him and I said yes.

So we went to get the stuff needed and started painting. We were there for 3 days, Friday Saturday Sunday for the first piece.The first one being that of Martin Luther King on second floor.

I remember mid way I was like Weh! you mean it's us guys doing that? I remember there's a time I went across and sat next to the stair way and spent like 30 minutes just looking at it and it was not done yet. It felt so good.After that we did Wangari Maathai ground floor and Nelson Mandela on the first floor.

WAI: When did you start monetizing your work and how do you go about it?

Kerosh: So I have sold art work and done commissioned work. However, I tend to be very intimate with my pieces. When I sell my piece to me it is like, now this is my baby I am giving away. 

Therefore, it is very important to me that the person buying my piece understands as well as resonates with the story behind the piece. For instance there's a piece I did once of  a Television set with the words, watch what you feed your mind on it. For a long time I have been careful of what I feed my mind so the piece had hang on the wall for a while as a reminder.

One day a lady  came to the studio and when she saw the piece she asked me what the story was. I asked her why she was so interested. She told me that she bought a Television and it had been in a box for a long time because she knew when she hooked it up it would just be full of crap that she didn't want. She asked me how much it was and I told her you can have it, it's yours. At that point it had the same meaning for her, like it had for me. There's no price for that consciousness and for that connection. Putting a price on my art work comes with a feeling of loss.

WAI: So this is the end of part I of our conversation be on the lookout for part II.

AA(Auspicious Art)
Wendi Mutisya


Unknown said...

An intriguing story. Please approach the admin again and ask if you can mural the new student centre with prof.Brown or other iconic figures.

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thank you Mwenda glad you enjoyed his story. More awesomeness is on its way. You know what, that is a brilliant idea. I will definitely look into it.

Unknown said...

Kerosh is such an inspiration i admire his sense of hardwaork, Passion,Determination.Keep up the good job Kerosh!!!

Unknown said...

Awesome post as always
Clearly you are not only a talented artist but also a talented writter (a great story teller)

Wendi Ndaki said...

I agree Nashon. Kerosh is just amazing. I was so inspired after our conversation.

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thank you so much Jude :).

Unknown said...

Such an inspiration

Unknown said...

Nice post Wendi. It's good to appreciate such talent.

Wendi Ndaki said...

It truly is Raymond.

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thanks Sila, I sure hope his story can inspire other Street Artsts.

Unknown said...

Wow! Your blog looks crazy nice. I'm very impressed by the design, the organization and the content.
Keep at it.

Wendi Ndaki said...

Thank you so much Dave.

Unknown said...

Wow! This is very inspiring! Keep up the good work Kerosh!

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