Salim Busuru is an illustrator, character designer, comic artist, animator and game designer from Kenya. He is a founding member of Avandu Vosi, a creative studio based in Nairobi that was formerly UDK or Underground Design Kings.
Salim was inspired to get into art by the cartoons and 80’s anime he watched as a child and his brother who used to draw them. He has been drawing ever since and later went to school where he honed his talent and learned from others.
Salim Busuru has a very distinct, and deliberate style that centres Africa in his work. Salim loves telling stories as is evident in his character designs and concept art. However, this deliberate approach to his art wouldn’t occur until a conversation about creativity in Kenya in comparison to the US, where he realized his work wasn’t a true reflection of his own experiences and instead, was in response to mainstream Western culture.
I was having a conversation on local art and culture with a friend. We spoke about how we consume foreign media and reproduce it with slight changes and call it our own. He summed it all up saying that ‘..we are a derivative of a derivative’. These two moments and others have kept me on this path, edging me deeper into the exploration of African culture.Salim Busuru (Design Indaba)
Salim and his team have to their credit the comics Rovik, Beast from Venus and Dunamis. The former set in the Star Wars universe about a migrant looking for work and the latter, about a team of disabled superheroes. These comics are published through Vibonzo (which means cartoons in Kiswahili), the comics publishing arm of Avandu Vosi. Beast from Venus explores folklore from the Nandi community about mysterious beasts that once roamed the plains.
Busuru also has credits on Ma-Otero, a kids’ animated short about imagination, monsters and superheroes. Recently, Salim Busuru emerged as one of the Animation du Monde continental finalists at NAICCON with his project, The Next Rainbow.
Salim Busuru together with his team, Avandu Vosi (formerly UDK), have created captivating and thought-provoking illustration series like Superheroes Need Not Apply? which imagines what famous superheroes would look like if they were from Africa and 10 Godz Poster Series, a collection of posters that depict the creation myths of ten Kenyan tribes. Avandu Vosi was also responsible for environmental and concept art in the 8-bit game, Kade ule mtoi.
We put together some of our favorite art pieces by Salim Busuru to inspire and show you the beauty and diversity of art in Africa.
Bahari Blue is Squid Mag’s Kadi Yao Tay and Kofi Sydney Asare’s and illustrator Bolaji “Art Nerd X” Olaloye’s scrapbook of favourite African (including the diaspora sometimes) artists they love, are inspired by and believe the whole world needs to know about.