MY HUSTLE: How I turned my love for cartoons into a business

Thursday September 21 2017

When the world’s most decorated animator; Walt Disney, said that “all dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them,” he may not have known that he inspired 23-year-old Wilson Mwangi, a 4th year student at Murang’a University, to do exactly that.


“When I was eleven, I loved nothing more than watching cartoons on TV. My love for cartoons really summoned curiosity out of me, and I developed an interest to learn how the cartoons were created,” Wilson begins.

When he completed his form four studies in 2013, Wilson had one goal in life, and that was to learn how to create animated images and videos. But like many students after completing high school, Wilson lacked the means to pursue a digital animation program. He instead opted to join Murang’a University and study Information Technology as he figured out how to learn digital animation. No sooner had Wilson joined college than he began to source educational materials about digital animation on the Internet.

“All the information I wanted to begin my animation work, I got it from the internet. I began watching tutorials on how to create simple cartoon projects and blog posts the year before I joined college in 2014. I’m yet to join any formal class on digital animation, but since I have access to the Internet and I can get most the information and training I need, I make the best out of it.”


BivaBrave animation studios in Nanyuki town. PHOTO| BENSON MACHARIA



With a desktop, laptop and graphics tablet at his rented apartment in Nanyuki town, Wilson converted a small room to become a digital studio out of which he creates all his projects. While his workstation was space squeezed and lacking in some of the equipment needed for his profession, Wilson struggled resolutely to raise capital and get the equipment he needed to successfully complete his animation projects.


“Though I used to do my research on the Internet, I didn’t have enough capital to buy the equipment I needed to begin working. I opted to take a short course as a tattoo artist, after which I used my skills to raise money to buy the desktop and graphic cards I needed for my work. By doing tattoos and other freelance jobs, I raised Sh150,000 that helped me by my first workstation desktop computer and graphic cards.”

Wilson learnt how to source for ingenious animation ideas, created visual drawings, produced animation models, voiced animation characters, textured and fine-tuned amateur animation video programs until he landed his first paid-for project in June 2017.


Wilson’s first animation project as a professional animator. PHOTO| BENSON MACHARIA

 “In June this year, I received a call from an unfamiliar number. It was a representative of OLX Kenya. Immediately, my heart skipped. The caller told me that she had viewed my animated work on my Facebook page, BivaBrave animation. She asked me if I could do a commercial for OLX Kenya which I gladly accepted,” a nostalgic Wilson says.

For his very first paid job as a digital animator, Wilson knew he had to impress his client. With the help of friends who would help polish graphics work and voice animated characters, Wilson diligently created the animated project his client wanted. Wilson earned more than Sh100,000 from the project which he invested in his animation laboratory, BivaBrave Animations.

“When I received my cheque, my first goal was to invest in my workstation. I immediately purchased new graphic tablet from a local online retail store and other equipment to help me better my craftsmanship.”

After the completion of his first project, Wilson felt rejuvenated and motivated to continue pursuing his dream of becoming a successful digital animator in the country. Luckily, his parents, who are business people, continue to motivate and encourage him to do what he loves. He reckons that his parents have always encouraged him to work pursue what he loves once he graduates from his undergraduate studies later in 2018.


“My parents are very supportive. Ever since I was young, my mom and dad have always motivated and encouraged me to do what I love in life. They actually bought my first laptop when I joined the University, and have been supportive despite the fact that I study a different program at the University.”

Wilson, whose favourite animation movie is The Good Dinosaur by Pixel animation studios, says that he hopes to one day own one of the biggest animation studios in the country. He challenges anyone with the passion to pursue digital animation to keep practising and never give up because “nothing good comes easy in life.”


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