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Sendy Spotlight: Graphic Designer Valerie Keter

Ian Wambai
November 14, 2019

This week on the Sendy Spotlight we have our Graphic Designer, Valerie; telling us all about Design, how she ended up in this profession. Also, there’s some words for aspiring designers.

Hi, what do you do in your day to day at Sendy?

I’m a visual communication designer, in this context I’m a graphic designer.

What’s a Visual Communications Designer?

I take care of the company’s visual communication. This involves designing communication collateral in channels such as Print, Out of Home advertising (OOH/billboards), digital advertising. The core principle is that you are designing for communication purposes, making it easy for the target audience to understand the message.

What attracted you to graphic design or visual communications design?

I really loved drawing when I was growing up. I was fortunate to have art classes in primary school, which greatly improved my skills. When I was in high school, I chose to study Art and Design. This is when I found out that there’s more to drawing. I learnt about different careers such as Interior Design, Graphic Design, Illustration, Animation and what they all entail. I thought being an Interior Designer was fancy so that’s what I chose to pursue at University of Nairobi. I focused on Interior Design until I realised I was also good at graphic design. I gravitated towards graphics and that’s how I landed in this profession.

I love drawing, painting and crafting. Ohh, and Pinterest is bae. I love doing DIYs. My favourite painting medium is acrylics on canvas. Sometimes I explore watercolors on watercolor paper, I find this soothing and relaxing.

Your instagram page has illustrations you did a while back, is this something you still pursue?

In 2015 I was in Melbourne, it’s a very artistic city and there’s inspiration littered everywhere. Quite a number of art events in the southern hemisphere are usually hosted there. During my stay, I learnt about Megan Hess, she’s a fashion illustrator. At that point in life I didn’t know whether I wanted to be an Interior Designer, Graphic Designer, Fashion Illustrator or Fashion Designer. I saw what she was doing and I was so impressed like “Can I actually do this when I go back to Kenya?” I got started with fashion illustration almost immediately, getting my inspiration from the African scene. In Australia, fashion illustration is a well understood concept. When I came back to Kenya people would ask me “Sooo, that’s a nice illustration, can we see the actual outfit?” and I was like no, it’s a fashion illustration, it wasn’t meant for production, it is editorial. The end product is the illustration itself, I won’t be designing tangible clothes.” After some time, I no longer had extra time to work on illustrations. I might go back to it, depending on how I feel about fashion illustration.

“I love drawing, painting and creative DIY projects. Pinterest is bae.”

What inspires you to design new things?

When I saw this question at first I was like “Pinterest!”.  I get my inspiration from anything I see, this later drives my imagination. My inspiration comes from the simplest activities. In short, my inspo is based on my environment. 

“The core principle is that you are designing for communication purposes, making it easy for the target audience to understand the message.”

What problems do you love solving?

I enjoy solving advertising briefs where I come up with a creative concept that will require deliverables such as TVC (TV commercial), print adverts, digital content and online films. I really enjoy the process of coming up with a TV Ad to create brand awareness or solve a problem.

What are you optimistic about in the design field?

I am optimistic that in the future Kenya will be a ‘design destination.’

How do you do what you do? What does it involve/tools?

My design process is not different from the usual one. The first step is to understand the brief and identify the problem to be solved. The next step is to sit down with my colleagues and brainstorm on several ideas. After this, I’ll get into the ideation process and sketch, play around with colour and shape. Later, I’ll move to my software of choice and begin creating the final design. Mostly, I use the adobe creative suite; Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects and Premiere Pro.

 “Master the shortcuts; this will increase your speed.”

Do you have tips on the tools that you use?

Master the shortcuts; this will increase your speed. Number two tip: Practice. Learn a new software every two or three months. 


What skills are most relevant to your industry?

Number one, creativity. Number two, proficiency in the 3 main softwares: Illustrator, Photoshop and InDesign. Once you learn them you can work on your speed and learn the rest of the adobe creative suite. 

What other interests or passions do you have?

My other interests are tied to design. Recently I started working on crayon art, melted crayon. I prefer working on canvas, and the crayons on a glue gun. If it’s successful, you’ll see an exhibition soon. My other interest is travelling. I’ve been to a couple of places and I really like travelling and hiking. 

What interests you least about the job or creates the most stress?

My biggest stress is limiting and unconstructive feedback such as “I’m not feeling it”, “I just don’t know” “You just do what you can”. I prefer direct and straight to the point feedback like, “Let’s rework the colour”. This is very helpful, It’s feedback I can work on. 

Do you have any special words of encouragement or warning as a result of your experience?

I would like to tell young designers to go for it. Most of the time when you choose to be a Designer and you are from Kenya, chances are your parents or the people around you will tell you “That might not be a good choice”, “It’s not marketable”, so I would tell aspiring graphic designers out there: focus on what you want, go for it and most of all, have a plan, know what you want to do with your skills. 

“Focus on what you want, go for it and most of all, have a plan.”