farewell 2018

buraq . 2018

my 18th and final blog post for 2018! what a year it has been. it mostly feels like a blur at this point, but with all it's ups and many downs, 2018 was definitely a year of growth and change for me. i'm truly blessed for everything that's happened this year – graduating from risd with an mfa in textiles, moving back home and being busy with some great projects that have come my way, being able to travel around the world for personal and professional reasons, sharing my work with a new audience both at home and internationally – i'm so humbled with all the opportunities that have come my way.
i hope to continue riding this wave into the new year, and achieve success with becoming a full-time artist and designer. stay tuned for what's to come in 2019 – i will keep updating my blog as always.
i share with you all in this final post of the year an illustration i worked on, initially as a t-shirt design, which unfortunately got rejected. i have a fascination with the islamic mythical creature, the buraq, and feel like it symbolises a lot of my experiences this year – soaring to new heights and experiences and growth. these last couple of years have been a journey, and i feel like i'm sharing all i've learnt with everyone back home, hence illustrating the buraq with an arabic coffee pot and date palm branch as symbols of sharing. stay tuned – she might appear on a tee some time next year!
to a good time, lots of smiles, dancing, and creativity! a happy new year to all the krossbreed lovers. may 2019 be good to us all...

mirzam for jameel arts centre

jameel arts centre – garden . 2018

jameel arts centre – terrace . 2018

jameel arts centre – amphitheatre . 2018

mirzam x jameel arts centre final chocolate bars . 2018

mirzam x jameel arts centre final chocolate bars . 2018

an amazing new art space has recently opened in dubai and i had the honour of working with them. the jameel arts centre, which opened its doors last month, is an independent art institution dedicated to showcasing contemporary art focusing on the region and beyond. with programming ranging from art exhibitions to community outreach, the jameel arts centre is a great addition to the city's art community .
i had the opportunity to work with the centre on illustrations for chocolate bars sold at their gift shop. working with local chocolate makers mirzam, the art jameel shop is selling three unique flavours, exclusively made and sold for the store. the illustrations i worked on are in appreciation of the architecture of the centre, with a little bit of magic! the three illustrations focus on the exterior spaces around the centre, including the gardens, the terraces that overlook the dubai creek, and the amphitheatre located in the sculpture park. i had so much fun drawing these, and i loved seeing how the illustrations were matched with the chocolate flavours.
make sure to check out the jameel arts centre – trust me, you won't be disappointed. and do make sure to stop by the art jameel shop to buy some cool stuff, including the chocolate bars (they make excellent gifts!). plus, a selection of my zines and publications are on sale in the shop too, until stocks last. 
a huge thanks goes to the jameel arts centre team. thank you for the opportunity, and i look forward to working together again in the near future.


breaking bread

breaking bread (video) . 2018

breaking bread (process, samples, prototypes) . 2018 (photo courtesy of design ras al khor)

breaking bread at dubai design week . 2018

breaking bread at dubai design week . 2018

breaking bread at dubai design week . 2018

breaking bread at dubai design week . 2018 (photo courtesy of reem falaknaz)

breaking bread presented to international press by khalid shafar at dubai design week . 2018 (photo courtesy of design ras al khor)

if you made it to this year's edition of dubai design week, i hope you had a chance to check out my project 'breaking bread' for design ras al khor (drak). design ras al khor is a platform that invites designers each year to respond to a theme based on the ras al khor area. for it's fourth edition, the selected designers (myself, amal haliq and faissal el-malak) had to respond to the theme 'from rak to drak', focusing on assigned commercial outlets that cater to the community of the ras al khor industrial area.
i’ve been researching the afghani bakeries scattered across the area. these humble spaces make and sell one dirham bread to the men working in and around ras al khor. while observing the baking process, i was amazed at how the bakers pressed dots onto the dough using just their fingers, before slapping it onto the interior walls of a baking oven, leaving a decorative impression on the top face of the bread. 
through researching current bread stamping tools and methods, i wanted to create a tool that marks dotted impressions on the baked bread inspired by the visuals found in the ras al khor area. the final outcome were three prototypes of bread stamps, made from wood and steel, with designs inspired by decorative truck aesthetics, porta cabin mosques and the plants that sprout between pockets of factories within the industrial landscape.
this was definitely one of the most challenging projects i worked on, moving outside my comfort zone and exploring new materials i haven't worked with before. as these are still just prototypes, i plan to pursue this project further to have fully functional bread stamps that these bakeries can use in the near future.
a few thank you's are in order – thank you to the drak trio (khalid shafar, nadine kanso & khulood bint thani) for inviting me to be a part of this year's edition of drak. you were the first project that came my way after i graduated from risd so thanks for the opportunity. a huge thank you goes to the wood luck carpentry team for helping out with the manufacturing of the stamps and meeting an extremely tight deadline! i look forward to working with you again. thank you to everyone that came down to the atrium of building 7 at dubai design district (d3) during dubai design week to check out the project and share their feedback. i felt much better about my project after hearing what you all had to say. lastly, thank you to the 'al ras' and 'mirza muhammad' bakeries that were patient enough to let me into their spaces to understand their daily activities, and give me their time to test the stamps to see if they work. this project is dedicated to you.

i end this post with a photo of the participants of drak '18 (from left to right: amal, myself, faissal)

design ras al khor (drak) 2018 participants . 2018 (photo courtesy of design ras al khor)


from rak to drak

design ras al khor (drak) '18 invite . 2018
drak '18 participants . 2018

i'm happy to announce my participation in this year's edition of design ras al khor (drak), under the theme 'from rak to drak'! three selected designers – myself, amal haliq and faissal el-malak, were invited to create works inspired by various service outlets found within the ras al khor industrial area that caters to the local community. i was assigned the afghani bakeries that make and sell one dirham bread to the men working in and around the area. 
the project will be revealed at this year's dubai design week, and exhibited for the duration of the fair, from the 12-17 november 2018. stay tuned for more on my project titled 'breaking bread' very soon. until then, i look forward to seeing you all at dubai design week...


city sightseeing sharjah

city sightseeing sharjah poster . 2018

here's a poster i recently worked on for the sharjah investment and development authority (shurooq). shurooq commissioned a group of selected artists (including myself) to work on a series of posters that focus on popular and touristic spots around the city of sharjah. i was assigned citysightseeing sharjah, which is a bus tour that goes around the city's important and famous landmarks.
it was a bit of a challenge interpreting and illustrating the various stops the bus tour focuses on, but i'd like to think i captured its essence. from museums, sculptural landmarks, historical and cultural spaces – the uae's third largest city has it all. the final poster will be used for shurooq's company profile portfolio. whoever gets to see it, i hope they enjoy it...
even though i'm based in dubai, sharjah will always have a special place in my heart – i studied in university and had my first job there! i dedicate this poster to dubai's friendly neighbour, the city of sharjah!


focal point

focal point art book fair e-vite . 2018

here's a quick post about an art book fair organised by the amazing sharjah art foundation team. i'm truly honoured and excited to announce my participation in the first edition of the focal point art book fair, which is a 3-day event highlighting independent and mainstream publishers from the region and internationally. the focal point art book fair will include invited publishers selling their printed content, as well as curated tables that will have independent publications and print based material for sale. along with the book fair, a series of talks, screenings, workshops, a book launch, and more will be part of the public programming for the fair.
my print material will be available for sale at the curated table, along with other amazing independent publishers. if you haven't had a chance to get your hands on some of my existing publications, prints or zines, now's your chance! the publications that will be available at the fair are: never forget, fade away & illustrate issue one and twowe met on the dance floorbig city trailscapes make the man, and more...
i will also be facilitating a workshop titled 'diy illustrated sketchbooks' on the first day of the fair – thursday, 8 november, from 5–8pm. participants will be provided with empty sketchbooks which will be filled with observational line drawings of details and moments that capture their attention as they wander around the fair and the surrounding neighbourhood. the end result will be a completed sketchbook that participants get to keep. for more info on the workshop, and to register, head to the workshop page here.
the focal point art book fair will happen from 8-10 november, at the bait obaid al shamsi house in sharjah's art square. for more information on the fair programming, timings and venue details, head to the focal point art book fair web page here.
a big thank you goes out to wasan and the focal point team for reaching out and inviting me to be a part of the first edition of the fair. see you all at focal point...


capes make the man thesis book

capes make the man logo . 2018

capes make the man sticker designs . 2018

capes make the man thesis book spreads . 2018

capes make the man final thesis book . 2018

capes make the man thesis pack . 2018

i posted not too long ago about my textiles mfa thesis project which i worked on during my time at risd. titled capes make the man, the final outcome was a collection of 'capes' that represented the male archetypes i carry as a mature masculine. during the research process, i was heavily influenced by a book that my colour studio professor recommended (thanks bill!), titled 'king, warrior, magician, lover: rediscovering the archetypes of the mature masculine' by douglas gillette and robert moore. after reading it, i began asking myself how would i visually define the archetypes that i carry. i felt like capes would be a great garment to experiment with to explore those visual definitions. capes not only touched upon the notion of the male superhero that i found in all the comic books i'd read and collected as a young boy, but also connected to the traditional attire that men wear in the united arab emirates and the region. the visual representation of archetypes through garments also reminded me of concert experiences, when pop stars on stage have multiple costume changes to represent multiple personas or archetypes during the course of the show. i imagined if i ever were a pop star, what costumes would i wear to present my king, warrior, magician, lover, and dancer (i had to add dancer because people who know me know how important dancing is to me). i think i did a pretty good job with the end result, which you can see in my previous post.
one of the major components to completing my thesis was to work on a series of writings which would be compiled into a final book format. i really enjoyed working on my thesis book, and those that have read it mentioned how honest and open i was with regards to discussing my personal and private life. i didn't share too much, but i think i was comfortable enough to share the life experiences that have made me who i am so far. i spoke about my family, the loss of my father, the 'boss ladies' in my life who never stop inspiring me, fanboy-ing over my favourite pop star in the entire world – kylie minogue, drag culture, memories good and bad, my love for dancing, and tying it all up with a personal narrative of growing up in the emirates.
the end result was a thesis pack, which included my thesis book, a sticker set of illustrations symbolically representing each archetype, which were used as designs and motifs on the final capes, a postcard of the complete collection of capes on display at the thesis grad show, a mix cd of songs that i listened to while working in studio during my time at risd, and a party wristband commemorating my love for the dance floor, which can also be used as a bookmark!
i couldn't have worked on a successful thesis book if it wasn't for the guidance of my writing professor and mentor, emily. thanks emily for helping me make the thesis book just as important and special as the capes themselves. i didn't get a chance to thank my thesis advisors in my previous post. mary anne, anna and amy, thank you, thank you, thank you. your guidance over my final semester was what fuelled my drive to make a kickass project. a special thanks also goes out to my digital embroidery professor michael, who made sure i was in a good place every week with my project both in and out of class, and his friend gabriel in la, who helped conceive the best embroidery solutions outside of campus facilities on the tightest of deadlines. thank you all for taking pride in 'capes make the man' as much as i did.
if anyone is curious, or would like to get their hands on a copy of my thesis book, do reach out. i would love to share it.
i end this post with the dedication i included in my thesis book: to my family – thank you for moulding me into the man that stands before you. to my nephews – i can't wait to see you all grow up into the beautiful men you are meant to be.

sharjah textile hunters

from sharjah art foundation's tapestries workshop . 2016 (image courtesy of the sharjah art foundation)

from sharjah art foundation's tapestries workshop . 2016 (image courtesy of the sharjah art foundation)

from sharjah art foundation's tapestries workshop . 2016 (image courtesy of the sharjah art foundation)

from sharjah art foundation's tapestries workshop . 2016 (image courtesy of the sharjah art foundation)

as part of the sharjah art foundation's community outreach programme, i'll be facilitating a workshop titled 'sharjah textile hunters'. this is my second textiles themed workshop with the foundation – the first workshop was in 2016 and centred around the theme of tapestries (click here for more information).
for 'sharjah textile hunters', participants will begin with a quick tour of the current exhibition 'steps towards the impossible' by alaa younis, then head out to the nearby textile market to discover dominant textile trends and collect scraps from the scattered tailor shops around the neighbourhood. participants will then work in groups and discuss their thoughts and findings, and create their own pattern designs which will be printed onto plain textile surfaces.
i'm really excited about this workshop, and if you're reading this, i hope you are too. the workshop will happen on saturday, 3 november 2018, from 4-8pm, and is free and open to anyone who's interested. to sign up, fill out the registration form here. and for more information on the workshop, head to the sharjah textile hunters page.
looking forward to seeing all the textile hunters very soon...


delusions and errors 2.0

outside the delusions and errors exhibition, weltformat graphic design festival . 2018 (image courtesy of christine müller)

delusions and errors exhibition . 2018 (image courtesy of christine müller)

delusions and errors exhibition . 2018 (image courtesy of christine müller)

delusions and errors exhibition . 2018 (image courtesy of christine müller)

i had the pleasure of being a part of the second iteration of the delusions and errors exhibition, part of the 10th edition of the weltformat graphic design festival in lucerne, switzerland. the delusions and errors showcase was part of the festival's programming, which included a series of exhibits and talks focusing on graphic design. 
the festival unfortunately has come to a close (the dates were from the 28 sep - 6 oct), and i was unable to attend due to prearranged travel commitments. but based on people who were lucky to attend, the festival sounded really fun, and the delusions and errors showcase generated a lot of interest, especially from visitors who are unfamiliar with the graphic design scene in the middle east and north africa.
if you haven't seen my earlier post on the delusions and errors exhibition which happened in dubai last year, my contribution to the show was a 3 coloured screen printed poster titled 'are you local?'. i'm so glad that my poster had the opportunity to be showcased outside the middle east with many others, and shared with new faces and people. whoever attended the exhibit, i hope you enjoyed what we had to offer as fresh, original posters representing the region.
a huge thank you goes out to mobius design studio (click on the link to check out their recently updated website) for reaching out last year asking me to be a part of the show. also, a big thank you also goes to christine müller for screen printing my poster while i was away at risd. lastly, thanks to all the partners and collaborators that made this exhibition possible.


mezaina mixtape vol. 1

mezaina mixtape vol. 1 . 2017

from last post's 'textile sisters' to my real sisters – here's a post dedicated to 3 special women. here's another project i worked on during my 'materiality and intimacy' course late last year. i created a mixtape of songs connected to memories of my sisters and family, while growing up in dubai during the late 80s and 90s.
music was very important in the mezaina household. when thinking about my family and years of childhood, there's always been music. i was born in 1985, the youngest after three sisters, and i have a fading recollection of interacting with their younger selves when we were all very young. but i do remember the music that was playing on the radio or on tv whenever they were around.
between the 80s and 90s, my sisters took me everywhere they possibly could. i was constantly with them at home, in school and on various outings. growing up in dubai, which was still a humble city in its early beginnings, the exposure to popular culture from the west was very dominant. our acquired interests in the british and american pop charts was inevitable. i remember music playing in car rides to and from school, and coming together as a family to watch the latest music videos on tv. my sisters also began a tradition of recording their favourite music videos on vhs tapes, which now take up a huge corner in storage! there's no doubt that music evokes intimate memories of pleasant times when we did things together as a family.
i have acquired similar tastes of each of my sisters’ various musical interests. the mezaina mixtape vol. 1 is a homage to my sisters' love for music and the pop stars that defined the 80s and 90s. besides having immediate memories, they’re also great songs to listen to. the collected songs within the mixtape act as vignettes of personal memories i have of each song in relation to my sisters. hearing a particular song immediately takes me back to a specific moment from the past. these intimate memories slowly fade with age, yet listening to these recordings on a cassette tape feels like stepping into a time capsule, with sounds that are so specific to a particular era.
i dedicate this mixtape to my sisters, for being who they are and for what they mean to me. i haven’t made a mixtape since cassette tapes were relevant, so this was a trip down memory lane, reminding me of when i would watch my sisters make mixtapes of their own.
thank you for letting the music you love become the soundtrack to my life in good times and bad. to quote nan goldin who, in her book ‘the ballad of sexual dependency’, perfectly said – “ […] this is my party. this is my family, my history.” 

happy listening (click on the memories below, which will direct you to the song attached to the selected memory).

the mezaina mixtape vol. 1
side a (the 80s)

side b (the 90s)

thank you textile sisters: 2016 - 2018

anjuli . 2017 

carolina . 2017

cassie . 2017

charlotte . 2017

khalid . 2017

winnie . 2017

'thank you textile sisters' zine . 2017

this post is long overdue, but it only made sense to work on it when i got back to dubai. this is a post dedicated to the five wonderful women i shared my risd experience with in the textiles department. 
in the fall semester of last year, i took a class titled 'materiality and intimacy' which focused on understanding intimate/personal objects and artworks. it was a struggle at first being a part of the class, because of student dynamics and immature conversations during class discussions. but overtime, it was one of my favourite classes i took at risd, as it expanded my knowledge of artists, works and reading material i would never have been exposed to. shout out to professor jo sittenfeld for really working hard in making the course engaging and enriching.
for one of the class assignments, i had to create a project that combined the two prompts of creating a ‘family album’ with a selected quote from one of our class readings. i selected a quote by nan goldin from her photo series ‘the ballad of sexual dependency’, which was my first time seeing her work. goldin describes how she built her own family around her circle of friends, which reminded me of my situation of being temporarily separated from my family back home, and having to create a new one in providence. my chosen family were my 'textile sisters' in the risd textile graduate program. here's what nan goldin said which really hit home:

“in my family of friends, there is a desire for the intimacy of the blood family, but also a desire for something more open-ended. roles aren’t so defined. these are long-term relationships. people leave, people come back, but these separations are without the breach of intimacy. we are not bonded by blood or place, but by a similar morality, the need to live fully and for the moment, a disbelief in the future, a similar respect for honesty, a need to push limits, and a common history.”

i really think i got lucky with the group of girls i shared the graduate experience with. as the only boy in my group, my ‘textile sisters’ were welcoming and open, accepting me into their lives. we’ve all come from different walks of life and experiences, but together we shared this moment, creating our own history and memories. we were all very aware that our time together was temporary, and we’d probably part ways to begin new chapters in our lives upon graduation. but the relationships we’ve built together will truly last forever.
i created a zine with illustrated portraits of my ‘textile sisters’ to commemorate the community we built for ourselves and each other. i gifted each of the girls a copy so that no one else except the six of us get to have one. this personal zine is my way of saying thank you to anjuli, carolina, cassie, charlotte and winnie, for 2 wonderful years together at risd. 


a yellow notebook

daftar asfar . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

daftar asfar – pages 1 (with rama duwaji) & 2 . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

daftar asfar – pages 3 & 4 (with sarah ahmed) . 2018 (photo courtesy of nahla tabbaa)

here are a series of illustrations i worked on shortly after moving back to dubai. i contributed to a project titled 'daftar asfar', which loosely translates to 'yellow notebook'. daftar asfar is a traveling sketchbook "[...] built on the spirit of collaboration, based in the middle east.". the sketchbook is shared with artists to freely create imagery and collaborate with each other within its pages.
when i was given the sketchbook, the first page i was assigned had already been worked on by an amazing illustrator who had the book before me – rama duwaji. i had four days to work on a total of four pages, leaving room on my last page for the next artist to start from. i was so happy to hear that the next contributing artist who i'd be sharing a page with was one of my favourite zine makers and friend, sarah ahmed.
it was a fun project to work on; drawing freely and expressively without worrying about any rules. i filled my pages while stationed in my temporary workspace – the dining room at home! my illustrations were of observations around me at that moment, as well as of photos of myself and friends, memories of people and specific places from home and my time in providence. for the first time in a long time, i drew without referencing a photo through tracing, and challenged myself by only drawing from observation. i think i did a pretty good job loosely capturing accuracies of some of the portraits of myself and friends in the above pages.
a big thanks goes to nahla tabbaa for inviting me to participate in daftar asfar. i can't wait to see where this project goes, and i'm truly honoured to be a part of it. here's more info on daftar asfar via their instagram page.


back home

portrait . 2018

it's been awhile since i last updated my blog. i've been back home in dubai for almost a month now, and have been occupied with settling back and adjusting to being here. i'm so glad to be amongst my family and friends again, and in the city that inspires me. but i do miss moments of being in providence – like my apartment, or my amazon prime account! what i do miss the most is having a studio space, and completely committing to an artistic practise. my biggest challenge with being back is figuring out how to apply my risd experience into my practise here, and making it all work towards becoming a sustainable artist.
i can't wait to see what projects i work on next and what i come up with. i'll slowly be picking up momentum once i get past the jet lag and cleaning up my room which is in need of a long, overdue makeover! until then, i just wanted to let everyone know that i'm back home. 
i illustrated myself as a quick exercise to get my creative juices flowing. stay tuned, for posts on what's to come, and some old projects i didn't have time to share.


capes make the man

'capes make the man' at risd grad show . 2018

'capes make the man' at risd grad show . 2018

'warrior' cape (detail) . 2018

'dancer' cape (detail) . 2018

'lover' cape (detail) . 2018

'capes make the man' at risd textiles show, nyc . 2018

'king' cape . 2018

'magician' cape (detail) . 2018

'warrior, dancer, lover' capes (detail) . 2018

'lover' cape . 2018

i write this post as an mfa graduate – imma master y'all! i did it, i successfully graduated from the rhode island school of design with a masters of fine arts in textiles. it's been a crazy two years, with many ups and downs, but it sure was a blast. i'm truly grateful for it all. i can't believe it's over – it feels like only yesterday where i was back home in dubai announcing my move to providence to pursue an mfa. now it's over, and i'm ready to move back home to face what comes next.
i share with you my final thesis project titled 'capes make the man'. the project is definitely an outcome of self discovery and growth over the last two years whilst being away from home and family. it truly is a stepping stone for me, and i think the work i produce from now on will not be the same. i most certainly will continue to work within design and illustration, but i think i've found my calling – i enjoy making garments that embody narratives which transform the wearer. i'm not sure yet how i'll be able to include this new interest in my current studio practise once back in dubai, but i'm committed to making it work. i'm very proud of my thesis project, and i hope all of you out there enjoy it too. below is the abstract from my thesis book which briefly explains what my project is about:

‘capes make the man’ is a project that provided me with the opportunity to grow as a designer and an artist. over the last two years at risd, i’ve frequently asked myself questions about my place and role as a man in the united arab emirates, and what awaits when i move back after graduating. using personal narratives and cultural symbols from home, i bring to life the archetypes i carry as a mature masculine – my king, warrior, magician, lover and dancer. the end result is a series of bold, wearable capes, resembling stage costumes worn by pop stars on concert tours. through a combination of screen printing, dyeing and embroidery techniques, the capes visually contextualise these archetypes, what they personally mean to me and the characters i embody when caped.

the photos above do not do justice, but i hope they give a sense of the overall look and feel of the collection. once back home, i do intend on taking proper documentation of the capes, so stay tuned for future posts which should have better photos, as well as a few more details on what informs the narratives behind each cape. until then, i end with a photo of myself in an unflattering graduation robe after the graduation ceremony.

at risd commencement, 2 june . 2018 (photo by hind mezaina)