Creating virtual art spaces and tools for creatives in Kenya

The Challenge:

- How can we create tools for creatives that help restore the opportunities taken away due to Covid?

- How can we help emerging photographers showcase their work in a manner that places an emphasis on quality?

- How can we co-create with creatives?

My Role:

Amit Vasani and I are the co-founders of this venture.
- Lead developer
- Host ideation sprints with creatives.
- Assists with marketing and partnership opportunities.

***This project is different from my other projects. It you would like an in depth view about my process as a design researcher, please check out this project instead.

Tazzama is a startup that Amit Vasani and I have founded. Currently, Tazzama is a digital art advisory studio that uses a human centered approach to build solutions for creatives in Kenya. Our aim is to support emerging artists by creating tools that help them showcase quality work in a professional low-cost manner. 

Amit and I are both photographers. Tazzama started off as a project that was built out of the frustrations we as emerging photographers were facing. Due to Instagram’s changing algorithm, we noticed a decrease in engagement levels and an algorithm that favored popularity over quality. You can check out more here. Another way artists gain recognition is through exhibitions. But, we learnt very quickly the difficulty in hosting an exhibition due to the immense cost involved and more recently due to the Covid pandemic.

Currently, there are several artists who create amazing work from unique perspectives that challenge the Kenyan narrative. Without a mass following, the right connections or constantly running instagram ads, their work never gets the recognition it deserves. At Tazzama, we are currently experimenting with immersive technology to build tools for these artists. Our very first project was “Celebrating Africa”, a virtual photography exhibition. You can view it here.

We have several projects lined up with partners like @kenyanviews who has created a platform to give recognition and support to Kenyan photographers as well with several conservancies.

View "Celebrating Africa" Exhibit
Screenshots from our "Celebrating Africa" Exhibit.
Our approach
I am a design researcher at heart, so I believe in co-creating with the group I am building for. As we build out our venture and the product offering, we do so by having conversations with photographers and artists. We are currently hosting ideation sessions as we form a community around Tazzama and understand needs so that we can build useful tools. 

This is my first venture and there are several things I am learning as I progress from building prototypes to launching a working product! Some of them are how to create a sustainable business model, how to pivot when needed, how to reach the right people and how to code in different languages as we experiment with different methods.