Gabriel Mugabi

Gabriel Mugabi. Illustrator

Gabriel Mugabi. Illustrator

I’m a 23 year old Ugandan by nationality and Mukiga by ethnicity. My father hails from Kabale and as is customary in many of the cultures in my country, the children take on the father’s clan. I’m the forth of five children born to my parents. While growing up, my siblings and I attended boarding schools. This nurtured me into a responsible, strong headed and independent individual with an ability to make sound decisions of my own. By this fact, we were influenced differently due to the different cultures adopted from our respective schools. Personally, I grew a passion for rugby which I picked at Namilyango College School. It was also at Namilyango College that my artistic talent began to manifest and develop.

As a child I loved watching cartoons: Tom and Jerry, Calvin and Hobbes, The Flintstones, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Samurai X, were my favourites. I was always fascinated by the cartoon characters and their appearances, so I would take time off and draw imitations of them. I often found myself seated away quietly as I sketched my favourite characters. This pleasant solitude caused me to have few friends. And most of my peers thought of me as a quiet person. But more interestingly, my peers loved my sketches and were amazed by them. This encouraged me to keep drawing and my passion for art grew even deeper.

For my primary school education, I attended Namilyango Jr. Boys School, then Namilyango College for Ordinary Level and proceeded to Seeta High School for Advanced Level. I’m grateful to God that I passed through school despite the numerous challenges I endured as a young boy dealing with so many pressures. I reasoned that this could have been due to my family circumstances. I was from a humble background, and the boarding school environment meant that I studied mainly with children from very well to do families. This taught me a lot about life, and also made me determined to work hard to achieve my dreams.

I knew I wanted to be an artist as early as when I was 15 years old. So when I made the decision to pursue a degree in industrial art at Makerere University Margaret Trowel School of Industrial and Fine Art, it was no surprise to my family and friends.

While at university I played rugby for Makerere Impis alongside my academics and illustration. It is at this stage of my professional development that I learnt how to use illustration as a medium of communication and expression –probably the reason I value this field of art so much. I also worked on creative projects in illustration, painting, product design and 2D animation.

Some of my works include the “Clean Hands” bamboo wheel chair, DFCU Bank structural monument design competition where I was shortlisted among the top ten finalists. I’ve also worked on the creative aspects of the PRDP project. I’ve illustrated Mother is Barren, Plastic and Glass for Deyu African, and comic books like The Inheritors, written by Rich Wagaba. Omnipotence and the Riot are some of my most recent projects.

My illustrations have evolved into 2D animation and cartooning. The 2D projects I have worked on are the Unicef ad on teenage pregnancy and Kaliro Sugar’s Xtreme Studio. These professional projects have opened up channels regarding illustration and cartooning.

For me, the sky is indeed the limit, and by the grace of God I will be able to make my mark in the art industry.
My gratitude goes out to all the amazing people who have nurtured me into the artist I am today.

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