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Today is the day of week that you (hopefully) synonymously associate inspiration with, Monday. This week meet Creative artist Maged Nassar. Maged has been shining in the field of advertising for quite a while. After a brief stint in a series of multinational Cairo advertising agencies, Maged moved onwards in partnership with Ali Ali to open their own “boutique agency” named “Elephant”. Almost immediately Maged and Ali found themselves surrounded from all directions by extreme success, Cannes, Clios, OneShow, Lynx, D&AD and the list goes on. If it’s an award in advertising, chances are these guys won it. Maged then moved on and is now a Creative Director at DDB Berlin. I was fortunate enough to secure some of his time to peer into his mind.

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

M: I remember my schoolteacher calling my mother about a series of drawings I did when I was seven. It was about a man with a 0% chance of living. One of the drawings was about a guy in a desert of deep holes, in each hole; there was a deadly snake. So even if falling down didn’t kill the guy, one of the snakes would’ve done it. There were also lions between the holes, and one tree with a buzzard that’d eat his dead body after. I don’t know why I did these back then, but I do remember loving the idea of giving the guy zero chance.

My mother was a bit worried, but my father loved them, he even started for the next couple of weeks suggesting more ways to kill the guy.

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

M: Comics I think. The job of Daniel Clowes is the best. He spends more than 10 months working on the idea before he brings it to life. A Comic artist is an illustrator, scriptwriter, director and editor. I mostly appreciate the ones who can illustrate what they write.

And the best part of it is that you don’t need to reach many only few “your followers” will read your books and judge your work. Which gives you an accurate judgment.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

M:  Who: I think the biggest inspiration for Joe Frazeir was Muhamed Ali. Though they punched each other’s on the ring, I guess they needed one another to be better. Maybe they were in love. And believe me in advertising competition could get fiercer than boxing. But at the end I have to say that people who inspire me the most, are the other creatives whom I believe; do better than I do, and whom they believe; I do better than they do.

What: One of the most things that inspire me is my family to my mom’s side.

I have eight aunts and one uncle, and I can’t count my cousins. When we occasionally gather in a wedding, an engagement, or even a funeral, I see truthfulness. They are true people, coming from the lower part of the middle class, live scattered all over the country, and have many different (real) jobs, unlike mine. A big reunion with them gets aggressive, loud, and real funny. I just need to spend the right time with them to get a glimpse of the real life. Mixing the insights I get from my family with the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Charles Burns, Lars Von Trier, Lukas Moodysson, Takashi Mike, David Cerny, Edgar Allen Poe and any movie that has been done by Vincent Gallo, can be really useful.

Where: Walking, driving and washing dishes.

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

M: This idea proves that the creative process is not a democratic one. Every time Ali and I shared this idea/sketch with anyone seeking their advice or encouragement, we get disappointing reactionsI can’t blame them at all. People tend to like ideas they’d seen before or could visualize it in their own minds based on their own experiences. I would maybe react the same.I won’t claim that all my ideas are good. Most of them failed big time. But I still love taking a risk.

Thank god this campaign got lots of awards: my first Cannes lion, Grand Prix in Dubai lynx, DA&D in book and finally I just saw it in Luerzer Archive special issue “the best print ads in decade”.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

Rotten tomatoes
Wikipedia
Good reads
Ffffound
Gamespot

Today is Monday. It’s time for you to be inspired. This weeks’ star of the obsession sessions is no other than Egyptian Director Ali Ali. Ali is a freelance film director that lives in Cairo and works all over the world. Three years ago he founded a boutique advertising agency named Elephant in Cairo along with his creative partner Maged Nassar. It quickly became the most awarded agency in the middle east, not to mention being named by Cannes lions as one of three most exciting agencies in the world today. Together Maged and Ali have won over 6 Cannes Lions, something they would never have dreamed of achieving a couple of years ago.

This year Ali decided to quit advertising and focus on directing full time, meanwhile his partner Maged moved to Berlin to join DDB. Ali is represented by Doppleganger (His agent in Berlin) and Big Mama (His agent in Milan). Currently, all Ali does is travel round the world shooting ads for different agencies in different markets, which can be fun, if you don’t mind living out of bag. His next job is in Bucharest, Romania. He leaves tomorrow.

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

A: My earliest memory of creative activity would have to be drawing. Drawing and lying. I did a lot of both when I was a kid. And I think they’re both great for building an imagination. I would lie and make up stories continually. I forged most of my report cards as well. Not telling the truth meant you always had to fill in with other stories, with fiction. so I guess I did a lot of fiction as a child. when I got older I started painting, first acrylics then oils. I had a very inspiring Art Teacher called Paul Rinaldi, and for the longest time, I wanted to be a painter.

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

A: I think I would love to have been a surgeon. I love how a surgeons job is done the minute he walks out of the operating room. Surgery is brilliant, because it’s all science, yet it still involves craft. You work with your hands, and if you mess up you can kill someone. That’s a crazy thing to do day in day out I think.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

A:  Who? : It’s funny, but the two people who inspired me the most in life were both called Nabil. Nabil El Solamy, my deceased uncle who was an illustrator and cartoonist living and working in the former GDR. I would spend days on end in the summer, drawing with my uncle, and inking up his old pencil drawings. I think he was responsible for getting me interested in art, and everything happened from there. Then theres my old man, Nabil Ali, a computer scientist, and a linguist. He got me interested in science, math, engineering, classical music, structured thinking, reading, logic, everything and anything I still use in my work today.

What? : I think everything can be inspiring. if you look hard enough. I like to seek inspiration from outside my field. I don’t look at ads for inspiration, or graphic design. I think real inspiration comes from other areas, away from your own, and the further the better. I mostly go to art shows for inspiration. I’m obsessive about seeing all the art shows in every city I visit. I also keep and collect all my art ticket stubs. For example, I’ve been to every major art show at the Tate Modern or Royal Academy for the last ten years. I just went to London to see Damien Hirst and his shark, that was incredibly moving and inspiring. Theater and reading are also great sources of inspiration. I read fiction mostly, Tom Robbins is my favorite living author. Nikos Kazantazakis, is my favorite dead one. And finally, people. Just being outside and talking to people I think is the best way to think. When I’m struggling with ideas or a difficult brief, I like to go outside and talk to cab drivers, or just sit in a nearby ahwa (Egyptian slang for dive coffee shop) and talk to the person sitting next to me.

Where? : Curzon soho. My favorite movie theater. I love to go there and watch three films back to back, or just sit in the coffee shop and read. have a good cup of coffee.

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

A: I think I’ll talk about two pieces of work here. One is a print ad I did for Sony Microvault (the usb memory stick) back in 2008. And the other is a TV campaign for an obscure Egyptian brand of Halawa (Halva) called Bawadi.

Sony is very close to my heart. For one, because it got me my first Cannes Lion. I remember saying I would quit advertising the minute I get my first Lion. little did i know : ) When i thought of this print campaign, I wasn’t crazy about it because it felt so obvious and so easy. I remember Maged, my partner at the time, told me, “someone must have done it, it feels too easy” and i think we both learned something that day. That the best ideas always feel too easy, and too simple, they make you think “why hasn’t anyone thought of this before”.

“Bawadi Prisoners” is also a piece of work I am very fond of. This campaign was done by Maged and myself in 2011. And it has won us every award in the region including the Dubai Lynx Grand Prix and best of show. Again, the thought was very outrageous, and we both immediately dismissed it, but then we thought, “Why hasn’t anyone used prisoners in a halawa ad before?!”. We all know prisoners eat halawa, and we always see them in films eating halawa, and the first thing you get an inmate when you pay them a visit is a box of Halawa. Initially the client wanted to use celebrities for this campaign, when we asked why he said “Because people trust celebrities” and I remember we said “But that’s not true, when it comes to halawa, they should trust the prisoners” and thats how these films were born.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

The Guardian
Creativity Online
The Tate
Art in America
Facebook

I love business cards, the feel you get when you are handed one for the first time, the tactile sense of firmness when encountered and overall seeing how a person chose to represent themselves on a small form of paper. I’m an avid collector of peoples’ business cards and noticed recently that my collection is mostly sitting there staring back at me. So I decided to dive into them and every Sunday I’ll be posting a small selection of the hundreds I have collected over the years.

This week, I’m starting off with sharing some of the cards I collected from my peers during my time at the Ontario College of Art and Design. Few people left an impact on me with their ability to Art Direct, Design and Illustrate. Their business cards have been cherished in my possession over the years. Most of these were acquired during our last year in university, circa ’06.

Monday is here and so is an old friend of mine, meet Shanghoon Jeong. One of the kindest most courteous people I personally know, Shanghoon, is the first photographer I ever worked with professionally back when I used to work as an Art Director in Toronto. His sense of colour and motion is quite unreal as his photographs have this ethereal wonderful quality that is unique to his style. This week Shanghoon gives us a little peek into what makes him tick, as well as the latest project he’s working on.


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

S: I am not sure how old I was but I have all these memories of playing with Lego when I was young. I used to make all kinds of things. It stopped playing with Lego all together one day when I realized I didn’t have enough yellow blocks to make a lion head and I really wanted to make a Lego lion head. Just like that, Lego days were behind me.

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

S: I think I would have been a cook. I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen. Also, it gives you a full control over what you are making. You can create something different. You get to boss people around, also. LOL.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

S: My inspiration comes from imagination and things that happens in life mostly. I will see something or experience something and sometimes I want to transfer that feeling or mood to the pictures. They also comes from other photographers like Kenji Toma, Kenji Aoki, Craig Cutler and more. Sometimes me just surfing the web or reading magazines or books is enough to give you so many ideas to shoot.

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

S: This is my recent shot I did for Coors Light. I started to work with splash and liquid. I love capturing the unexpected moments. It’s like all shots are accidents but happy accidents. This shot particular was bit tough because the product didn’t exist at the time so the can is basically built in photoshop. Getting the right splash pieces was real time consuming but really fun and rewarding.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

ffffound
New York Times Magazine
A photo editor
The F stop Mag
Ads of the world

The Twenty third of January, another fine Monday, fit to introduce a perfectly fine creative and great friend of mine, Michael Donaghey. I’ve known Mike for a good 7 years so far, we first met as aspiring Art Directors at the Ontario College of Art & Design. I remember way from the get go, he was always so motivated, even when the lot of us at such an early stage in our visual communication careers were not. Before he even graduated, he was plucked by Draft FCB, where he put in some good time, then moved on to BBDO where he really proved his worth. A couple international awards later (Clios, OneShow, Cannes Gold Lion) to name a few, Mike is simply the most passionate Art Director about Advertising that I personally know. I’m sure we’re all just beginning to see a fraction of his true worth shine.

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

M: My memory is probably my worst quality (which means it’s really, really bad) but I actually have evidence of some early Donaghey in the form of a Ninja Turtles illustrated book – credit Cheryl Donaghey (a.k.a. “Mom”) for spelling. The erratic lines and uncertain colour palette point to a distinct lack of artistic ability, possibly surpassed only by the artist’s apparent hate for Krang.

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

M: Honestly, I’d be trying to start my own cemetery. I love the personality and design of them. I’ve been to some of the best in the world, and each one shows an evolving sense of material, aesthetic, typography, and respect for the dead as it pertains to its city and culture. I’d want to treat it like a gallery, and funerals would be like exhibit openings. Good thing I’m in advertising, I guess.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

M: That’s tough, and I think the answer is always changing. But I guess the constant would be the people I interact with. Of course two heads are better than one, but if those heads are working well together, and people are making each other better, than two heads should actually be better than two.

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

M: This is a piece we recently did with our FedEx clients and director Jeff Low. It’s an example of the shift away from interruptive advertising and towards something that people actually want. If you don’t like it, stop watching. But if you do like it, you’ll enjoy the experience and be more receptive to the brand’s message. Or, you’ll say “what kind of puppy is that???” like about 50 people on YouTube.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.



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

Welcome to my blog.

Art Direction / Alignment / Colours
Cooking / Design / Folding
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Ping Pong / Type / Walking

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to obsess over constantly.
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