Earthy Colors and Geometric Shapes: Follow Monica Obaga’s Creative Journey

Washington-based graphic designer and illustrator, Monica Obaga, is known for her minimalistic artwork, sticking to a limited earthy color palette and simple geometric shapes.“What I love most about being creative is that it’s the thing that can take a situation from hopeless to endless in possibility,” reflected Obaga in an interview with VISI Magazine.

Born in Kenya and currently based in Washington, her illustrations are an extension of her identity, inspired by Kenyan and African art such as Kisii soapstone sculpture, Maasai beadwork, Kikuyu weaving, and Swahili lesos. “My first real color palette was based on Maasai beadwork,” she recalled. “It’s evolved over the years but that was my way of stamping my work as African without being derivative. The abstract, organic shapes in my work are directly influenced by the soapstone sculpture from Kisii, where my parents are from. I love that something that could be called ‘modern minimal’ is a traditional craft of my people.”

Adding a contemporary twist to her otherwise traditional artforms, Obaga’s creations take many forms: anything from digital and print designs to business cards, event banners, and even tote bags.“If creation is the act of making from nothing, then creativity is the attitude required for it to happen,” she says. “When you’re aware of it, it’s so empowering!”