The “Arbegna” Project By Yohannes “Jay” balcha.

Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa

We’re on some eon of encroachments, some strive to bring the antiquity out of the new days and some try to run history as advanced and restructured as it could get through the given days. Both ways being elevating throughout their own trajectories, some speak volumes to a generation that has become ignorant to the bygone grounds they now carve out stairs to form the future by.

On our visit through Design week Addis Ababa the past week, we came across lots of individuals and teams striving in the areas of advancements as mentioned above. Original and promising works.

May you be introduced to one of the remarkable works displayed on a Tuesday Design Week night, “The Arbegna Project” By Yohannes “Jay” balcha.

Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa
Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa
Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa
Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa

Arbegna Project is a series illustrating Ethiopian warriors throughout history. Ethiopian warriors had a unique way of dressing for battle which was graceful and at the same time intimidating to the enemy.

The series is part of a bigger project which tells Ethiopian stories through images. The images were developed using the digital painting technique which involves painting on a computer with a Pen Tablet (Wacom Cintiq 13HD Creative Pen Display). The softwares used to create the illustration are Photoshop and illustrator. What makes this project special is the integration of the olden Ethiopian history with modern illustration techniques.

“What inspired me to make this series is my desire to show our rich history through illustrations. I have been fascinated with “Arbegnas” for several years now and have made different artworks related to them before. I decided to do this series while going through old works for inspiration for DWAA. I would like to thank Design week Addis Ababa and Girar Creative hub for the opportunity to participate in the Exhibition.” Said Yohannes.

Photo courtesy by design week addis Ababa

He has been working on the project for one and a half months including all the process of researching (collecting and studying reference pictures), sketching, illustrating and digitally painting it.


About The Founder:

Yohannes ‘Jay’ Balcha, is an architect by profession, has a master’s degree in housing and sustainable development from Addis Ababa University and a great passion for art. Jay’s passion for art has helped him develop his skills in graphic design, digital painting and photography. He has been creating viral graphic art on his Facebook page, “Jay I need arts”, since 2012. He is a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) East Africa Alumni and is very active in his community by volunteering as a Rotaractor and a Global Shaper. Currently, Jay is running his own graphics design studio, called “Jay Graphix”, where he produces stunning art works every day.

He exhibited his work in Ethiopian photographers Club exhibition in 2014, Design Week Addis Ababa in 2015 and 2017.

To see more of his work, contact:


Social Media links:

Telephone number: +251911345111

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