In Conversation with: Ivan Odie

Ivan Odhiambo AKA Ivan Odie is a passionate 27-year-old Kenyan lad, economically sized, entrepreneur, film director, audio engineer, and corporate brander. His character has been molded by experiences living life in contrasting circumstances, started life in the city of Nairobi, moved upcountry when he was a teen to focus on school away from family hardships.

A portrait of Ivan Odie

He eventually moved abroad in his late teens where he got exposed to a broader perspective of life and opportunity. He now runs his own studio and works with artists & Corporates to inject his passion and style into whatever project he and his collective of creatives work on.

How did Callivan Creatives come to be?

While studying in Asia, I met passionate people of different races, ethnicities and backgrounds with similar goals. We weren’t allowed to work formally in Malaysia thus we ended up being online creatives. I had a Tanzanian neighbour named Osse Greca Sinare who is now one of the lead fashion photographers in Africa. Back then we just had a dream and no equipment, we used to borrow gear and do pro bono projects that got attention from several event organisers and corporates. Osse suggested we create a company back then which we called “XIVLX Studios” that dealt with general multimedia design & presentation.

We grew to have about a dozen creatives including Pakistanis, Africans, even Russians with a similar goal, sadly we failed to maintain consistency during vacations breaks when we travelled back to our respective countries. But the energy to create remained with certain individuals like Osse and I, Osse started his studio in Tanzania and ended up winning “Best African Fashion Photographer” for several consecutive years since 2013 while I had my first 2 radio records both peaking at #1 on the Kenyan charts simultaneously on different stations.

This motivated me to inspire individuals around me to push media in Kenya to new heights, we studied at the “YouTube University” 🙂 which to date is the reason everyone gains skills without necessarily going to class. I then shared my skills and approach to clientele with close friends and in no time, we started pitching to clients as the collective we are today. Since my hands were on almost every aspect of production, I was always the go to guy or the quality control for clients thus the name “CALL IVAN TODAY “to get creative.

As a creative what do you enjoy the most, being a graphic designer, videographer or producer?

I honestly can’t decide, the fact that all these aspects go hand in hand makes it difficult and I’m always about the whole process, they say a movie without sound is simple pictures in succession. Thus, every aspect including design has a large impact to the final impression which is what I enjoy creating. The beauty of it is today we merge our hobby which is music production in our corporate activations which involves design and visuals, it’s an alternative avenue to fund the music.

What makes your brand unique?

I would say what makes us unique is we are passion driven and regardless of what project we are involved in, compromise due to circumstance is not a topic of discussion. Everyone is deeply rooted into playing their respective roles and my main job is to make sure none of the team players lose their gusto.

Of all the projects you have done to date, what has been your favourite?

Well, I’m always excited about the latest project, currently we are working on our Headline artist “Steph Kapela’s” album which we think will be a Kenyan milestone for its fusion of deep content, film and musicality. I’m also excited for playing a big role in presenting new international household products e.g. “the new rebranded darling hair products & PNG’s Downy fabric softeners amongst others.”

What is your proudest achievement?

Tough to answer, but if I had to pick two it would be beating the odds of not having equipment or funding, taking a leap of faith and shooting a short impromptu film at my house. Winning multiple awards by the French film association and the Kenyan film commission for our first movie named “The wrong tap”. I honestly cringe when I watch it today but that was a proud moment because it drives us up to today when things get tough.

Which creatives inspire you the most?

I don’t have a specific collective in mind, but recently Casey Neistat (A famous YouTube Vlogger & Creative) teamed up with one of my favourite content creators ( DAN MACE) who is someone I look up to. Dan shot the latest Kenyan Tusker Advert as his first corporate job, it became one of the country’s most iconic adverts by meshing different ethnic groups in Kenya through sound and film to showcase unity. I can only imagine what these two great minds are about to do together for they’ve started a company named the 368 creatives if I’m not wrong. So yes, for sure they inspire me.

What have been the highs and lows of your career so far?

Highs, as mentioned above is every project that we have done passionately and beating the odds by watching the end product manifest. For instance the short movie we did, or several businesses that we have rebranded that were on the verge of collapse. They ended up tripling their sales and welcoming us with open arms every time we visit the various premises we have rebranded.

Lows, well I can’t think of any lows besides the time I had a dream but no one was able to understand, fund or even verbally support my thoughts of not getting employed. Also, family expects you to move out and be independent and for a split second I considered giving up.

Who are the creatives to look out for in Kenya and what makes them unique?

Look out for ProCraft Studios, I like their professionalism and organisation when we teamed up for a project a few months back. FCIA (Film Crew In Africa) these are the big dogs in the Kenyan creative industry but, obviously look out for Callivan Creatives, we are the passionate & next ones :).

Who has been your favourite client?

Every client we have worked with we eventually have a personal bond which we embrace after we engage. The favourite has to go to a client that gave me the first shot to rebrand them back when I really had no local client to prove my concept in 2012, “The Smith Hotels”.

What are you currently working on?

Several Projects, we are rebranding a major Kenyan Company that deals with Gas. We are also working closely with 3 artists in our stable to put out albums by mid of next year.

Who would you like to collaborate with, local/International?

DAN MACE • ANDERSON PAAK • DR.DRE just to name a few.

What is the one thing that you can’t live without?

Haha… Honestly…. A MacBook and internet…. and my girlfriend who is also my P.A.

Which artists would like to work with and why?

Besides the ones I’m already working with, I’m looking across the borders, I’m paying close attention to Tanzania’s “Brian Simba”, UK’s “WSTRN” and of course “ANDERSON PAAK”.

What is the soundtrack to your life?

Somewhere in between “Uneek’s Life Changes (A Kenyan Artist we work with)”, Anderson Paak’s Bubblin and Kanye West’s Graduation single can’t tell me nothing. Subjected to change with time.

Describe a typical day in your life.

Wake up 6:30am, check if my phone is charged and if I missed anything while asleep, grab the mac, start on a client’s corporate work, proposals and emails till afternoon. A few meetings until the evening and probably a studio recording session until late night, unless we are out shooting. Weekday evenings without sessions is expanding our knowledge base by research.

What are you most proud of about being Kenyan?

The fact that we are hungry to grow. I feel like our map looks proportionate. I may be biased :).

How would you like to be remembered?

As someone who solved problems.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists/entrepreneurs?

No one has it easy, never give up on your dreams and never think the world owes you success, you must grab it and seize opportunities.

Social media handles/website links

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