Kevin Kipng’etich aka ‘K-square art’, a minibus art designer has given Nairobi matatus a new exterior makeover branding art designs that display Beyonce. He had also designed a matatu with a portrait of Barack Obama and the Roman Pope.
The matatus nation is the most common affordable means of public transport in Kenya. It’s a part of Nairobi’s urban way of life that is recognized worldwide. It is also characterized by the signature loud music, peculiar designs, chaos among other anomalies that have earned matatus the tag “clubs on wheels”.
Kevin, a matatu art designer based in Buruburu, Nairobi, boasts his five- year experience in the job. He says that he will soon come up with an artwork that adorns minibusses.
Kevin narrates how the designs are sourced from the internet then the concept of the design is developed at the back of his mind checking the result of his creation. The design he says is based on the prevailing market demands.
“After an investor requests for a theme, we download photos relating to the theme of the vehicle, come up with a concept using computer software, and then present it to the investor.”
The vehicles reportedly when brought for refurnishing through such artwork are always very dull in appearance. Giving it new portraits and new paintwork makes it look more appealing. The average coast and fetch of customizing a minibus are up to an approximate of Sh200, 000 depending on the amount of work and the client’s budget.
Apiece takes an entire team’s input to be done. The average time taken to fully design a matatu ranges from a week to a month depending on the workload. The makeover of the vehicle involves panel beating, the design work, which Kevin is part of, then music and lighting installation.
The business, however, faces some hiccups such as unfavorable weather conditions that force projects to take longer than usual, delayed remittance of payments from customers, and strict government regulations such as the 2003 ban of matatu art though were later lifted.
Most people attribute these designed matatus to clubs on wheels because they are like moving clubs considering the interior decoration that is club-like, unique lighting, and the levels of music are just like those of clubs that populate Nairobi.
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