To Top

Meet Trailblazer Kimi Katiti

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kimi Katiti.

Kimi, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Life growing up in Uganda was unique. With power outages every other day, I was forced to make a play-thing out of our family’s encyclopedia collection. I would draw pictures from it incessantly when boredom struck, eventually carrying my doodling ways into the classroom. Upon my family’s transition to South Africa, I doubled down on exploring my artistic potential. My teachers and friends took notice of my eye for realism, and so from the age of 13, I was fulfilling portrait commissions.

I currently live in North Hollywood, California. Prior to my move to the States in 2013, I began to establish myself as a recording artist and found an audience in East Africa. My debut single, ‘Say I’ (2012) went to #1 on Kenya’s Hope FM ‘Top 30 Gospel’ chart, while my sophomore single, ‘Battle Cry’ (2012) sat at the top spot of Sanyu FM’s ‘Africa’s Finest’ chart in Uganda. Shortly after the success of these two singles (and very much so because of them) I made the decision to pursue a degree in audio production. This was a last-minute course deviation from a fine arts major, and the reason for my one-way trip to LA.

It’s been about two years since I graduated from The Art Institute of California with a BSc in Audio Production. I revisited visual art in 2015 with the rise of Periscope, and consider myself an interdisciplinary artist.

My music portfolio consists of three EPs (‘Beginning’ (2013), ‘Maps’ (2014) and ‘Super Cheating’ (2017), as well as a self-produced debut album ‘Wholly Wander’ (2018). My current visual arts thesis is informed by the growing girls/queer skateboarding scene in Los Angeles. I opt for acrylic paint as my choice of medium, along with watercolor and ink for illustrative pieces.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It has not been a smooth road by any means. While every ‘L’ you can imagine has been thrown my way, confidence has been the largest obstacle I’ve had to face. When opportunities arise, I would often consider myself inadequate or poorly equipped when compared to other artists. I have slowly been rewiring this sense of self over the years and reassuring myself that I can stand up to a challenge or job, and if I fail, I can learn from it and come back better next time.

Societal expectations for success are still so boxed in for girls. There are so many professional fields that women can excel in but there is an invisible barrier that reads ‘you’ve got so far, good job, but now let the men take it from here’. We ought to evaluate those ideas every step of the journey and challenge male-dominated work tasks and spaces. What should keep us from becoming award-winning producers, engineers and whatever the heck else? We can be what we set our minds to become.

Please tell us more about your artwork, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I am an interdisciplinary artist. I’m a musician (songwriter, lyricist, performer, producer and engineer) and I’m also a visual artist (painter, illustrator and sculptor). My African upbringing informs my worldview and ultimately the art I create. The unifying factors between these two disciplines are vibrant color and realism. Realism for me is speaking from disadvantage, and color is a reflection of my pursuit for hope.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
‘Talent Is Never Enough’ by John Maxwell was a book that changed my life! I read it over and over throughout high school and it shaped the way I view ‘talent’. I also like listening to speakers like Judah Smith and Rich Wilkerson Jr.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Joshua Hurd

Suggest a story: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in