Amsterdam artist Jan Hoek (b.1984) collaborates with and photographs particular subjects, who might be identified as outsiders to ‘normal’ society, and overlooked.  That has included photos series about an ex-heroin addict who fantasized about being a supermodel, and Maasai tribesmen who reject their ‘jumping’ image: he’s also a writer, whose work in print is equally unusual, like a psychedelic ‘zine about the sex tourism capital of the world, Pattaya in Thailand.

“Machete” rider. [Jan Hoek]
Hoek’s latest work was inspired by the boda boda (motorcycle taxi) riders of Kenya, who typically customize their motorcycles to attract customers in a highly competitive field.   Their motorcycles are painted and accessorized with fantastical themes, from comic books and sci-fi films, but Hoek envisioned the boda boda riders taking their style one step farther, by making costumes to match their bikes.

“Red Devil” rider. [Jan Hoek]
Hoek worked with Ugandan-Kenyan fashion designer Bobbin Case (!) to create customized outfits to match their machines. They selected sever riders whose machines they thought were “the most awesome”, and worked with each one to create outfits to “complete the characters.”   Hoek then photographed the riders with their machines “in the style of real life action figures, in front of Nairobi landscapes.”

“Mad Max” rider. [Jan Hoek]
While the collaboration created works of art, the boda boda drivers also found their income rose with their new outfits, so they continued to wear their costumes for daily work. “Maybe if you by chance visit Nairobi one of them will be your taxi guy.”

“Rasta Man” rider. [Jan Hoek]
“Lion” rider. [Jan Hoek]
“Ghost” rider. [Jan Hoek]
“Vibze2” rider. [Jan Hoek]
Jan Hoek and Bobbin Case with the Boda Boda riders. [Jan Hoek]


Paul d’Orléans is the founder of He is an author, photographer, filmmaker, museum curator, event organizer, and public speaker. Check out his Author Page, Instagram, and Facebook.