Viewing Category ~ locations

Monday. Today I’d like to introduce you all to one of Egypt’s young youtube sensations, Sarrah Abdelrahman. I first came across Sarrah’s videos commeing on daily Egyptian life quirks in a very original and satirical way, through my dad. From the way Sarrah describes herself, you can really get a sense of her contageous personality: “she acts for a living and makes videos for fun, insisting on staying completely independent.  She invented her own world because the earth is full of contradictories that annoy her. She also wrote this description of herself and spoke in the third person. Isnt that trolled up?”.

I: What’s the earliest memory of a creative activity you did?

S: I used to dress up and recruit my little cousins to put on a show for the family, it was usually an extravagant sketch with dance numbers.

I: If you weren’t doing what you do right now, what would you be doing?

S: I would really really like to be a super hero, or something like robin hood and have a pussy wagon and just take revenge all day. But in reality, I would be traveling in the world, there is this ticket that you can buy from any airline agency that expires after a year, and you can take as many flights as you can except you cant go backwards, you just gotta keep traveling forward.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

S:  The biggest inspiration I can get is from watching a live performance, if its really good, I am overwhelmed by hard work and focus. if its bad, I get so angry that I want to do something better. it makes me very angry to see someone doing something that I thought of doing before, that gets me going too.

I: Share any piece of your work, recent or old and talk about it.

S: I got this flip cam in 2011 and was using it ALL the time. And so i made a video about my life, four minutes,each frame taking two seconds. It took me a year to record the material (not intending to do that video) and weeks to edit it. I am really proud of that video in particular.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

Museum of conceptual art
Lookbook.nu
Recycle Art
The Pirate Bay
Buzzfeed

August 31st, 2012

The Sartorialist Dinner.

Monday. This week your dose of inspiration is provided courtesy of  Ghada Wali. I first met this talented young Graphic Designer two summers ago at the far eastern tip of the Sinai pennisula in the Egyptian coastal resort of Taba. We were both camping on the beach with a bunch of friends and her vibrant personality stood out right away. As I got to know her better, it was such a welcome to surprise to discover the sheer amount of talent she possesses. In her own words, Ghada is a Cairo based self-employed graphic designer/illustrator, specialized in branding. Her aim is simple, to produce local flavored work that meets a global taste and understanding how to produce new, original, meaningful, functional, emotional conceptual design solutions, she is also interested in recyclable & editorial design. Her dream is to actually add something to the world, inspire somebody, change a wrong idea/perception, try to fix a problem or simply enhance someone’s life. It’s through my work that I always seek some kind of greater meaning and sense of purpose towards the planet which she always feel responsible towards.

I: What’s the earliest memory of a creative activity you did?

G: My post-revolution premaster project was a social awareness poster design editorial campaign with the purpose to re-correct misleading egyptian/religious and social misconceptions. It was an initiative to reconsider or breakdown some of the corrupt egyptian cultural system which is just as critical & influential as the political one. Dealing with mis-conceptions such as stereotyping/labeling, generalization and racism in order to promote social acceptance, diversity and enhance human awareness. Unfortunately, these misconceptions have nothing to do with education/social class, instead, it has been shaped over the years by the way we were raised, surrounded by these misleading thoughts. Thus the target group should definitely cover most ages and social classes of the egyptian population. Complex enough to be appreciated by high class civilians yet simple enough to cope with lower il-literal target segments. The project is called “meen homa?” or in english “Who are they?”. To see the project, click here.

I: If you weren’t doing what you do right now, what would you be doing?

G: I would have been a musician, specifically a drummer. Or maybe a doctor!!

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

G:  Everybody, Everything, Everywhere. I believe that inspiration has no distinctive specifications, it’s generated from absolute infinite and unpredictable sources. Inspiration can be extreme, complex or simply quite stupid.

I: Share any of piece your work, recent or old and talk about it.

G: This is one of a series of 9 poster campaign of the circus characters. The illustrative-hand crafted-customized poster represents an artistic yet kitschy feeling and plays homage to Egyptian street style.

Egyptian culture heavily involves humor, jokes, tricks and playfulness in the daily lives of Egyptians. This poster is an attempt for the Egyptian circus, which is a pure representation of those common Egyptian traits, with aim of shedding spotlight on them in the Egyptian community and to elevate those qualities to the status that they deserve, transforming them -and the circus in turn- to a trademark and a cultural/touristic spot. Proving that the circus life goes far beyond the physical entertainment world to a far deeper outlet for the symbolism of social, political, and economical matters.

In working on this poster, I explored examining the psychology of each the performers and audience in that special field that’s all based on entertainment, amusement and performance arts. Trying to translate that and point out the connection between graphic design and circus/performing arts – as this subject have not yet been tackled from that point of view in this country yet- was my source of motivation.

Through this journey, my research aimed at finding out the answers to the following questions: How can the Graphic Design of the Egyptian circus poster influence the perception of the brand (national circus) and attract a higher social class? What factors should be taken in to consideration when developing a customized design for a circus keeping in mind the special needs of a city like Cairo? Can a compromise of the equation between a local and global design be achieved? and How? What is the role of graphic design in recording circus arts, and their interrelation? In order to acquire a clear vision and build up a conceptual design, it was a must to get deeper into circus life, examining every detail, exploring this world of mystery, trying to find a true understanding of its genuine identity and constructing a bigger image.

The Egyptian national circus brand attempts to highlight and even magnify these ‘perceived’ weaknesses; the kitschy/over-rated, culture and turn them into strengths or even points of beauty. It aims to alter the perception -especially those of the higher target group- motivating them to take pride in such a culture, admire it and even aspire belong to this new identity. Unlike a lot of what is common in Egyptian media, Egyptians are not being portrayed as the ‘glorious’ pharaohs from million of years, nor there is reference to any historical touristic sights, Arabic calligraphy or famous Egyptian topics that are quite overrated. This represents a new way to showcase contemporary -not ancient Egyptian- Art. Celebrating the real modern day Cairo means celebrating the circus.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

behance
ffffound
fab
pinterest
designspiration

The past few days I was really fortunate to revisit the Sinai peninsula, amongst a large group of dear friends, mostly artists and designers, extremely talented people like the visionary photographer Hussien Shabaan and his radiant wife the interior designer Habiba, the giant designer Ahmed Hafez (Fizo) whom I interviewed before on this blog, and his wife Lamis and jubilant son Zain, the talented and charismatic illustrator and designer Ahmed abdel monem, the unique and energetic designer Tameem Youness, the sensitive musician Amir and his wife Lobna .. amongst many others. We all took a caravan of cars and headed east out of Cairo towards the land of sun, mountains and sea.

My friend Yahya and his wife Heba, two talented artists I went to Fine Arts college ten years ago, invited me over to join them on the ride there. Accompanied by their cute daughter Alia, the trip, even though it was lengthy (6 hr drive), was eye-opening. On our way we stopped at the local On the Run in the suburb of Maadi, we supplied ourselves with snacks and Yahya picked up the Angham LP (Mahadesh yehasebny) (Nobody judge me), (Which has an awesome cover design) a catchy tune called Layaly starts off the mini LP, between that and another Egyptian singer called Abo el Leef, that is pretty much what we listened to!

The drive was filled with jaw-dropping scenery, from ancient mountain formations slowly fading away infront of the giant that is Time, to the astounding cliffs and cloud scenes. We were heading to a place situated just next to Taba called Ananda. A humble yet, beautiful secluded resort. The word resort seems even a bit too fancy for the place, but the energy from the place was so refreshing, mainly due to the manager “Ezz” an elderly kind welcoming soul who constantly sits in the main hut of the resort and provides a really warm atmosphere, typical Sinai hospitality.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted by some friends that arrived a bit earlier, took our bags to our respective huts on the beach and returned for a delightful meal. The system over there is pretty simple and efficient. For the duration of the whole stay you can eat and drink as you like, simply mention your hut number and your orders will be tallied up upon your departure (for the record, the four days I stayed, cost me 550 Egyptian pounds, everything included, thats roughly 100 US$!)

The days over there eerily feel 85hrs long, I mean that in a good way. You can sleep, wake up, eat, lie on a hammock on the beach, sleep, wake up, eat again and only 2 hours would have passed. very very long which makes the whole experience that much more amazing. My favorite past-time was falling asleep on the beach till sunrise and then strolling around. On one of the days a group of us ventured out to this place called “Castle Zaman” which literally translates into “Olden days Castle”. Situated above a massive cliff just a couple Kilometres before Ananda, the view from above is even more astounding than below, after a scrumptious sun cooked meal that consisted of Lamb, crabs, shrimp, Turkey and rice (which you have to order in advance), we headed to the pool situated in the lower deck. Life is good.

I returned last night at 12 and after a brief stop to have some Sushi together, we all went home. Today I’m looking forward to exploring the older part of Cairo, A place that I used to goto a lot during my days at Fine Arts college to draw for hours and hours the ancient Islamic mosques and ruins. Stay tuned for more!



Hi, I'm Ibraheem Youssef
I'm a Creative,
currently based in Toronto.

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