Swift9 is a Nairobi based visual artist who is self-taught and specialises in aerosol art. He has been a professional artist for over a decade.
It all started after the transport ministry imposed a total ban on Matatu (local buses used for commuting to and from the city) art. It has slowly crept back, later on the spray cans chose him and he’s been painting on walls ever since. Swift9 has managed to successfully train over 300 young people on how to use art as a tool for advocacy through various workshops conducted annually in Nairobi. Internationally, he has managed to create work through festivals including Fringe Festival in Australia, Art of the Streets Fest in Sweden, Open Source Fest in Berlin and Prince Claus Award Ceremony in Amsterdam.
Your truly inspiration that pushes you to keep doing this great work?
Inspiration is everywhere! First off my own artworks, other artist’s works inspire me like Dreph, Cyrus Kabiru, Sindiso Nyoni, Fruitjunkie… the list is endless. Traveling to different places locally and internationally, meeting with new people sharing experiences and exchanging cultures.
Do people understand the message of your works?
Many are called but few are chosen and graffiti is still a very complex art form. Some people do understand while others they don’t. At the end of the day everyone has their own interpretation. Some people connect with the colors more while others are impressed by the composition. It’s like when birds are singing, no one really understands what they are saying.
Basically, what challenges do you face that people don’t even think when they see your art on walls?
Challenges. Well, making art is not easy. How long it takes to find and own a style that gets instant recognition. Creating great work of art is very challenging. I’m always in a constant battle with Failure. Maintaining a constant cash flow, some days it gets very hard to juggle between pays the bills and keeps the art moving. You gotta juggle time, money and creative need.
Your work that you admire most?
A political graffiti piece I was invited to paint at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam during the Prince Claus Award Ceremony in 2013. It depicted corrupt politicians and corporations as an evil vulture. It was my first time to get invited abroad to do what I do best. I experienced royalty for the first time.