June 21, 2019

Digital Diaspora: Building a New African Storytelling Tradition

A new wave of storytelling in Africa and the Diaspora is reinterpreting and globalizing narrative traditions, using digital tools and the power of the internet.

Being a creator in the African Diaspora means looking back. We look back at the stories we heard from our elders. As a child of the Tiv tribe in Nigeria, I heard a lot of folk-tales- they were about animals, humans and sometimes magic. In that classic Nigerian narrative tradition, people performed these stories during festivals, dressing up in costumes, assuming the identity of the characters, immersing the audience in the narrative. As a member of the Diaspora, looking back at these stories, and holding them tightly.

Read more

November 4, 2017

Design Talk at AmuseUX

"It’s a given today that design responds to our devices, locations, and preferences. But do we expect it to be responsive to cultural differences? Senongo will talk about factors that can affect how design is perceived in places with different cultural norms, as well as how visual and cultural diversity can be built into every stage of our projects. He will also talk about steps we can take to design for a worldwide audience, in a wholehearted and occasionally subversive way."

The organizers and crowd at AmuseUX were wonderful, and I learned so much from our conversations, and from the other speakers. If you have the ability, I definitely recommend attending this conference (or its sister conference about Big Data) next year.

Here is a link to the slides

November 4, 2017

Design Is Multicultural – My Talk at Google

I had the pleasure of giving at talk at Google Design in San Franciso in June. I spoke about Multiculturalism in design, and ways to create flexible, responsive, culturally relevant sites and digital projects. Instead of me writing about it, just watch the video. A big thanks to the whole Google team: Kai, Yasmine, Dylin, and Tony, for their hospitality and for having me. Thanks also to those who attended, and the great questions afterwards.

November 22, 2016

Interview on Revision Path

I was recently interviewed by the amazing Maurice Cherry for his podcast Revision Path. I was one of the first designers Maurice interviewed way back in the day for Revision Path, so it was wonderful to chat with him about the state of design today, and what I have been working on. Most interestingly for me, we had a chance to talk about science fiction, Afrofuturism, and "that black rights in space..."

Check it.

November 22, 2016

Network Access: Finding and Working with Creative Communities

I wrote recently on A List Apart about finding and working with creative communities. Too often in the Western design world, we hear that design is stale, or has become homogenous.

This view views creative communities, essentially, as pools of user-generated content, that freely available content is there to be mined and the best ideas repackaged for profit. This is idea as commodity, and it very conveniently strips out the people doing the creating, instead looking at their conceptual and design work as a resource.

But another way of thinking is to view creative networks as interdependent networks of people. By nature, they cannot be resources, and any work put into the community is to sustain and nourish those human connections, not create assets. The focus is on contributing. How you build connections among other creative people makes you part of the network. See them, however ephemeral and globally distributed, as a powerful way to expand your design horizons and be part of something different.

Read the whole article at ALA!

September 22, 2016

South African Ethnographic Study Drawings from 1872

I found these drawings by Gustav Fritsch recently while doing some other research. In this paper by Andrew Bank of the University of the Western Cape, we learn that "Fritsch indicated right at the outset of his expedition that his aims were 'ethnographic' and 'anthropological' ... and the collection of a portrait portfolio of 'natives' ('eingeborenen') was the most important aspect of this project". Note that the men and women are drawn with no background or context- this was a deliberate act on the part of Fritsch and other ethnographic portrait artists. Quite a few of these were drawn after photographs, but because of the clunky photographic setup and chairs needed for the subjects, "the background or the context has been painted out of the negative, thus stressing the de-contextualized nature of the subject."

As with all art, they are interesting once you understand the background in which they were made.

January 9, 2016

Running Effective Design Workshops- a Blog Series

Over the past few weeks, I've written a series of articles on A List Apart about planning and running design workshops successfully. In the first article, I discuss effective planning and goal setting. In the second, I discuss choosing the correct activities during your workshop, ones that map clearly to your goals. In the third and last article of the series, I go over ways that attendees might disrupt your workshop, and some ways to keep things on track.

When you have a few minutes, have a read through and let me know what you think!

May 20, 2015

Pixel Fable Featured on The New York Times

Imagine my surprise when I woke up last month, to a Google Alert about Pixel Fable in the New York Times! The project has been a long-running one, and has allowed me to stretch my illustration and dev skills. So I was very happy to see it featured in April, as part of a story about interactive children's apps.

You can read the article here, and purchase a subscription to the iPad app.

January 29, 2015

Some CSS Compositions By Kim Asendorf

I just rediscovered these CSS compositions recently in my bookmarks, and thought you might enjoy them.


November 28, 2014

Work by Chyrum Lambert

Some amazing work by Chyrum Lambert. All Chyrum's work is hand-painted, with inks, arcylics, oils, wax, etc. He then cuts the shapes and assembles them onto paper.

They feel tactile, carved, almost. Looking at the jpegs, its difficult to imagine how they were made, a quality that I really love. The use of grids, borders, and large geometric shapes is familiar to me as a graphic designer, but then a lot of that structure gets erased and cut away to reveal other more organic shapes and lines. h/t to Able Parris for the link.

©Senongo Akpem. All Rights Reserved.