20.12.22

thanks 2022

on the dance floor . 2022

and here we are, another year comes to a close. and i look back at how it all was on what is now my annual, end of year blog post...
for the first time since the pandemic, life felt slightly familiar to how it was before covid entered our lives. and yet 2022 still came with a lot of sad news – the world felt like a complete mess at times, disputes and health scares amongst loved ones, and what felt like non-stop announcements of people passing away. i think 2022 reminded me of how life is short, precious, and something to be grateful for. and i need to prioritise time towards things i love and the people i love. my circle of friends felt so much smaller this year, but maybe that's a good thing – all i need are a handful of friends and my handful of a family to move forward, because my dislike for people isn't going away any time soon...!!!
and speaking of dislike, my feels towards the local art scene hasn't really changed. i still feel disappointed, excluded, and bored. there is a sameness of ideas and artists constantly on rotation, which makes me feel discouraged to even try to involve myself in these mediocre conversations anymore. i have been shocked by many practitioners and institutions this year, choosing to work with the same names and faces, and 'mentoring' artists towards practices that look like imitations of what already exists. it seems like to succeed in this art bubble one needs to follow a template of making 'conceptual' art and aim towards some sort of institutional representation and/or validation. i guess i'm not ticking the right boxes...
with that said, my professional practise this year was quite fulfilling and rewarding, considering this was quite a slow year. i didn't get as much work as i generally do throughout the year, but whatever i did manage to work on was joyful, and made me realise where i should invest more of my time and energy. illustration is where my heart is, and if it means having a career as a commercial illustrator, i wouldn't mind that at all. i also realised that print and printed matter is something i definitely want to pursue more next year. i love working on (and buying!) zines, publications and comics, and i worked on quite a few this year. i think i'm also ready to make a line of print based products – let's see if that comes to fruition. speaking of print, i'm also beginning to define my voice as a [print] textile artist/designer. i love making textiles that share stories on talismans, transcen[dance] and joy. i hope i make more time next year to continue growing this part of my practise.
i think what surprised me the most this year was having multiple opportunities of exhibiting my work internationally. my illustrations and textiles traveled to italy, egypt, lebanon and albania! it feels great knowing my work is being seen by new, international audiences. it also made me realise that maybe, just maybe, it's time to look outwards for opportunities, and not only rely on the contrived art bubble i'm in. i do fear that maybe my work isn't good enough, or doesn't translate well outside the uae. here's to taking a leap and finding out in the new year.
i want to end this post by mentioning that i danced as much as i could this year. and oh how wonderful it is to be on a dance floor again without any rules or inhibitions. to quote one of my favourite artists nick cave "[...] the dance floor saved my life [...]". i've built this amazing community of friends old and new, meeting on the dance floor on weekends and feeding off each other's energy. i can't explain how wonderful it is to have this again, and i hope 2023 doesn't take any of it away like the last few years did. which is what i decided my end of year print would be about – to celebrate the return of where i'm at my happiest. 'on the dance floor' is a three-colour stamp print i created to gift loved ones.

thanks 2022, for not being a complete s***show like the last few years! whatever you threw at me, good or bad, i am truly blessed. season's greetings, and happy new year to everyone reading this. may 2023 be good to us all, and bad energy stay far away...

9.12.22

fifth flavor x sole dxb

fifth flavor x sole dxb (for online) . 2022

fifth flavor x sole dxb (for print) . 2022

i was approached by fifth flavor, a small pan-asian themed restaurant based in dubai to work on an illustration for their participation at sole dxb, dubai's annual sneaker/urban festival. the brief was pretty straight forward – cool illustrations representing dubai, the urban street style culture that's found at sole dxb, and most importantly their food.
i think the final results you see above are quite fun! they selected two variations of the same artwork – one for posting on social media, and one for printed collateral.
sole dxb happens from 9 – 11 december. if you're reading this, please stop by fifth flavor and try out their food. it looks delicious! also, you might snag a lil' surprise with my illustration printed on it *wink*
lastly, a huge thank you goes out to the fifth flavor sisters – thank you aisha and noor for the opportunity.

8.12.22

sway

sway . 2022

sway . 2022

sway . 2022

sway . 2022

over the summer, i was approached by the manarat al saadiyat team to participate in their "artists' swings" project where invited artists would design a swing bench that would be installed at their venue. i happily accepted and worked on a swing that i called 'sway'.
'sway' was created using my existing stamps of dancing silhouettes imprinted over bold abstract shapes and colours. the final swing initially had fringe pinned underneath, which fluttered as one would swing back and forth. unfortunately, the fringe pulled off with time *sniff*. but i think the bench itself is still quite successful without it.
if you're in abu dhabi, make sure to pass by manarat al saadiyat to check out the "artists' swings" installation in person, and have a look at all the swings designed by each invited artist. and most importantly, make sure to have a little swing on 'sway'...

28.11.22

a day at granny's

a day at granny's (page 1) . 2022

a day at granny's (page 2) . 2022

a day at granny's (page 3) . 2022

a day at granny's (page 4) . 2022

a day at granny's (page 5) . 2022

a day at granny's (page 6) . 2022

"a day at granny's" published in "corniche" comics anthology vol. 4 . 2022

i'm happy to finally share my new short comic "a day at granny's", which is included in this year's edition of corniche, a comics anthology published by the sharjah art foundation.
through the years, i've seen my mum become a cartoon version of herself as she took the mantle as grandma to her grandkids. and like any grandma, she showed her love in the best way she could. this short story is dedicated to the hilarious relationship between my nephews and their grandma. it's also a little homage to some of my favourite stories about witches that fed my imagination as a kid (bedknob & broomstick, hocus pocus, the witches). i hope you enjoy this little story that's filled with a little bit of magic, humour, and the human condition.
corniche is now available. make sure to grab a copy – it's filled with some amazing talent and wonderful short stories and comics. it's truly an honor to be published alongside some great friends and peers, as well as being printed in all four volumes of corniche so far. thank you to the corniche team for making that happen...

17.11.22

focal point 2022

 

'focal point' announcement . 2022 (courtesy of the sharjah art foundation)

it's that time of year again...my favourite cultural event in the uae is back. i'm so excited for the focal point art book fair, hosted by the sharjah art foundation. if you're based in the emirates, and a lover of books, this is a must go to event!
i plan to be there and spend some cash on loads of books and printed matter! plus, my latest issue of 'fade away & illustrate: fawazine' will be available at the fair. there will be a limited amount of copies up for sale, so make sure to get there early to grab a copy. lastly, i'm also happy to announce my latest short comic is included in the fourth volume of 'corniche', a comics anthology. more on that in a future post...
focal point will be happening on the last weekend of november, from 25th to 27th. and 'corniche' will be launching on the first day of the fair so make sure to be there to get a copy and maybe meet some of the artists! for full details on focal point and programming, check out the event webpage here. until then, see you all at focal point...

31.10.22

feeling catty

cat dad(dy) . 2022

 

happy halloween! i hope everyone is having a fun day with spooky costumes and lots of treats. i rarely dress up for halloween anymore, but this year i went out to dance as a cat dad(dy)! i came up with my costume on the day – a handy cat mask that i found at home, black tee and shorts, a harness bag, metal chain and my favourite halloween themed sneakers! i didn't take any photos – i guess you had to be there to see it *wink*
the idea for the costume also came about because of my recent appreciation for cats ever since covid. at home, we have cats that have called our garden their home, and i've become a cat dad ever since. dare i say, i love those critters...


20.10.22

fawazine

 

fade away & illustrate issue 003 'fawazine' cover (design by khalid mezaina) . 2022

fade away & illustrate issue 003 'fawazine' . 2022

after a six year hiatus, my illustration themed zine 'fade away & illustrate' is back! i wish it didn't take this long since the last issue (see here). life got in the way, and this little zine slowly faded away...
the third issue's theme is inspired by 'fawazeer ramadan'. for those who aren't familiar, fawazeer ramadan were egyptian musical television shows that aired during ramadan in the late 1970s – 2010s. families in the arab world would gather around the tv after breaking their fast to watch every episode – solving riddles, mesmerized by the costumes, choreography and set designs. these shows were absolutely joyful, and one would probably define them today as camp! with time, fawazeer ramadan slowly became obsolete. it seemed like people weren't interested in them anymore. but their impact never went away. 
i hope issue 003 acts as a legacy of an important moment in arab pop culture. aptly titled 'fawazine', this issue includes some of my favourite artists and illustrators. a huge thank you goes to all the contributors – this issue is really special thanks to each of you.
a final thank you goes to hind mezaina, for inviting azim al ghussein, lina younes and myself earlier this year to speak about fawazeer ramadan and the impact they had on each of us (more on that here). i hope fawazine is a way of bringing more voices into the conversation, and showing how we all share connected stories with fawazeer ramadan.
fawazine is finally out and available in the world. please get in touch if you'd like a copy. and stay tuned for announcements on where to purchase fawazine in the uae and/or online.
to end this post, i'd like to dedicate fawazine to all the fawazeer ramadan icons and divas – including samir ghanem, nelly (my personal favourite), and the one and only sherihan...