14 January 2022

14 Mins Read



A Pretty Awesome Illustrator; Paystack, Games and Kaz


Let’s meet you. Who is Kaz?

I’m a doer and I like to do things with my hands. That’s primarily the motivator for why I design and pretty much everything I do. Asides that, I’m a bit of an adventurer. As much as I don’t like to go out, I make my trips outside worth it. So if I’m going outside, I’m going on a hike, to a trip outside of town or someplace I’ve never been before just to get a new experience. I’m also a bit of a loner and I won’t say that’s just my character. I enjoy solitude a lot, it gives you the freedom and time to pursue a lot of things. When you’re constantly in social settings and just trying to navigate what comes in, it’s hard to focus. So I became a self-imposed loner to make things easier for myself. 

I’m also a pretty awesome illustrator, I’ve been told I need to say that every time I talk about who I am. 

Jeffrey Kaz at Work

Oh, that’s an interesting profile. Does being a loner have an impact on your creativity?

Yeah, I sharpen my design skills by looking at a lot of other people’s designs. I spend a lot of time on Pinterest or Instagram, on Behance just absorbing a lot of other people’s creativity, getting inspired by that so that kind of offsets being alone. Also, as I said earlier about being an adventurer, I go out just for this specific purpose, to experience the world in ways that’ll inspire. I guess the right way to put it is that I’m selective about the way I engage with the world.

Would you consider a job that requires physical resumption to the office at the moment?

I don’t think I would. Before Paystack, I was doing a lot of “show up at work” jobs but they’re unsustainable in the long term. Accra’s traffic is pretty bad. So the idea of going to an office and back every day, considering the way commuting and housing are set up here, you end up being so burnt out that you can’t do the work itself. It’s just a lot of negative energy and I don’t think that’s a good way of doing things.

As a Multidisciplinary Designer, what are your major skill sets?

Primarily, I am a graphic designer, and almost all of my experience in design has been focused on graphics. Many people specialize in brand design, product design and so on but I’ve not done that kind of specialization, I’ve been a bit of a generalist. Graphic design best describes the full scope of what I do. I’ve handled brands and products. For instance, I handled a project for MTN a couple of years ago, which was one of my first product-related projects. 

I didn’t start motion design to specialize in it but as it stands, I think I can call myself a motion graphics artist. While working at Paystack, I’ve done a bunch of them. The major ones I handled were the Storefront launch and the Product Links launch videos. It was a team effort but when you talk about who sat behind after-effects and set the keyframes, that’s me. I would also add that I’ve been dabbling in 3D design recently, although it’s not particularly prominent in my portfolio. I have a lot of other things I dabble in that I wouldn’t call myself a specialist in. I edit sound, I edit videos too.


If you had another chance to be a designer, would you still choose to be a multidisciplinary designer?

I would love to be in another country, like Canada or Netherlands, where specializing is sustainable. Then, I’ll focus entirely on illustration. But if I can’t start my journey outside of Ghana or Nigeria, then I’ll still choose to be multidisciplinary. This is because a lot of businesses here like to hire one guy who does everything. It’s impractical and painful to be that person, but ultimately, that’s the market and you kind of have to do what you have to do to survive. It’s not the best way to be a designer and as much as I’ve come to enjoy it, I don’t think we should push people to want to be multidisciplinary designers because it’s a lot.

What were your fears when you joined Paystack?

Before Paystack, I worked solely with design agencies and I freelanced a lot on my own. So, I was ready for the technical side of things. What I had no experience with, was corporate responsibilities. Everywhere that I worked, I was treated like a Maverick who could get anything done. So, I had a tendency to get overwhelmed with work and didn’t have the time to participate in other aspects. The strategists and the copywriters come up with everything, we would have a quick conversation about what needed to be done. We’d brainstorm. I’d share my mood boards. We would quickly figure it out and then, I’d execute. That was the way things worked. 

My biggest fear was being a design leader at Paystack. Even though I had help, I was scared of being a design leader without any design leadership knowledge. Knowing how to coordinate the projects, foster collaboration, document your work and all of that was new to me. I had to learn it very quickly. My entire first year at Paystack, I freaked out the whole time.

The great thing about our team is that the people are very supportive. Seyi and Dami of Da Design Studio have been very great design mentors, giving me detailed feedback on my work, which I’ve never had before. There were a lot of people who held my hands and helped me get to where I needed to get to. Now, I feel a lot more confident in my role there. 

How was the interview and onboarding process like at Paystack? What advice would you give to designers willing to join companies like Paystack?

Honestly, my interview was unconventional. It was in 2 stages. I bumped into Emmanuel, the Head of Growth at Paystack randomly in a cafe. We started some random conversation and I ended up showing him some of my work. He shared that with the team. At that time, Paystack was looking for a designer. They looked at my portfolio and set up an interview a couple of days later. For that interview, I had to present my favourite project that I had done in that year. So, I put together a quick presentation on one of my best projects, the tools I used, and my thought process. I tried to be very detailed about it. The interview wasn’t about questions like “What do you do?” “Who are you?” and so on. It was very casual and there was the presentation part which was the main event. I had to talk about the project from top to bottom, I think I did well because obviously, I got the job.

Since you work majorly on brand design at Paystack, what can you say are the skills a brand designer needs to have?

You need to understand systems. From the logo to the smallest expression of a brand, there’s a system in place. There’s a way you use the shapes in that brand to create new extensions. There’s a way you think of how to style illustrations to be on brand and also be as expressive as it needs to be. In graphic design, creativity needs to take the back seat most of the time to practicality. You need to be able to think of this as a whole and not as an opportunity to flex your skills. That’s something that took me a while to catch on to because when you’re working on a brand long-term, it’s less about your finesse and more about creating a valuable output; something that is coherently part of the brand and also meets all the requirements of creative work. So, one of the key ways to be a successful brand designer is to learn how to build, extend it, how to squash and stretch a brand to whatever needs the business has.

In terms of specific skills, just be curious. Honestly, there are no specific skills. If you’re a graphic designer, you should obviously know how to do graphics. You should have a little knowledge of motion graphics, video, have a broad interest in different fields and a deep knowledge in your field. For specific skills, understand colours, shapes, typography. No one can be perfect with that, we’re all works in progress. The main thing is getting the system, being curious and adventurous about how you approach the work and you will be fine.

Since we’re learning together, we kind of hold each other’s hands. So, I’d add that another skill is open communication. You need to learn how to not be ashamed of the current stage of the work you’re doing. Share it as it is, the team will come together and figure it out. It’s not a one-man show. So, communicate clearly and be part of the whole system.

What influences you to do all the other things that you do?

The existence of creativity itself is an influence. You go on the internet and you look at someone’s work, design legends and individual creators doing their own thing. Every day, someone finds a new way of using a tool to make something spectacular and mind-blowing. It’s just constant. Human beings are amazing. The simple fact that I can get up, pick a tool and make something out of it, that’s my ultimate influence. When it comes to individuals who have influenced me, there are just so many and naming some will be a disservice to others. I do have my earlier influences, those people became my foundation. I tend not to name them because there are too many people. 

I love Jean Giraud, also known as Moebius. He makes these amazing fictional works with completely made-up life forms. He, in my opinion, is the ultimate expression of how far you can push your imagination. Sometimes you look at the work and it doesn’t look like anything based on the things we’ve seen in our environment. It’s like you had to change the way you think of physical objects just to see what he’s trying to get at. That was one of the defining pieces of art for me; his entire portfolio was like a very defining art system for me. But apart from that, I get a lot of inspiration from the outdoors.

If you were not a designer, what would you be doing?

I would be a professional gamer if I could get away with it. Or I would be an IT guy fiddling with computers and all. That was my gateway to design. Every time I played with computers, I would ask myself “Who designed this? Who came up with the idea of how this thing existed? How does the drive spin and create this? How does the DVD have this information inside?” I’d just spend so long staring at it while asking these questions. That eventually led me to graphics design and all the other aspects of it. So, I would probably be an IT person

Decode Fintech Season 2

Where do you picture yourself in the next 5 to 10 years?

This question is hard, honestly. When I started my first job straight out of school, I had all these great plans. It’s not like I don’t have them anymore, I’m just happy to go with the flow now. I know that in 5 years, I would have honed my skills to a whole other level, I would have learned so many new things and become so many different things. At home, I want to be comfortable. I’m slowly getting there and in 5 years, I expect that I’ll be very comfortable. The funny thing about creatives is some people think that the struggle of being a creator is what brings it out of you. You know, expecting that a recent heartbreak will bring the best music out of you or hunger to bring out your favourite rapper’s hottest bars but I don’t think that influences creativity. 

Comfort is very underrated for artists. We deserve to be in spaces where you wake up in the morning and your air conditioner is running. Your main focus for that day is what you’re making next and how you’re making it. You’re not worried so much about your bills and whatnot. Comfort is very essential for the best forms of creativity because the best forms of creativity take a lot of time and effort. The people working for Pixar and Disney, creating trailers and all, I don’t think they would have had the energy the whole year if they weren’t comfortable. I want to be comfortable, I can be on that level too.

If there’s a new trend, something new you want to learn in any aspect of design, how do you go about it?

Tutorial videos. They’re the best things that ever happened to me. I used to go on YouTube and watch, but now I can buy courses. I can pick specific courses on specific topics and I get exactly what I’m looking for. So, I tend to watch the videos and leave the knowledge floating around in my head for a while. But I can never really work off that knowledge. I have to follow along, watch it and do mine on the side. Also, I learn by doing, by being hands-on. If I see some other designers work on something and I like it, if I think that it is a skill I’d like to have, I look at it and try to break it down. I might not necessarily end up with the same process that the designer used, but I can figure out the tools I can use to achieve that and I go for it. 

It’s a daily process for me. Every day you work, you encounter new things. Every new illustration is a new way to do something, I learn something new every day. But in terms of picking up skills, I try to create time for it. So when I’m on leave or holidays, when I know that I’d be at home and no one else will be around or coming over, I can go off the grid and learn something. Recently, I picked up Webflow. It’s very slow going but I like that thing 

Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

I have to say, this has been a great conversation. I’ve done most of the talking but I don’t get this a lot. I appreciate that I got the opportunity to do this. Thank you so much.

Jeffery Kaz Aninkorah has done a lot of amazing works in the design industry, he truly embodies what a multidisciplinary designer means. Check out his works here.

DearDesignerDigital PaintingIllustrationJeffery Kaz AninkorahPaystack

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