Viewing Category ~ obsession sessions

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

We meet again monday. Welcome everyone, this week I’m back to re-interview an artist that I interviewed way back in 2010 when I started this blog, multi-disciplinary graphic designer Muiz Anwar. Muiz is a multi-disciplinary graphic designer based in England, whose work incorporates typography, calligraphy, photography, illustration, fashion and product design to name a few. I first came across his work through browsing the ever inspiring site dedicated to the Arabic language Khtt.net. The thing that I find really inspiring is that he really finds a way to showcase his talent whichever field he tends to pour his creative energy in. It’s been nice to witness his creative growth since the last time we chatted.

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

M: I’ve tried to hard to think as far back as possible, but I always come back to drawing animals and dinosaurs on the back of my mother’s expired time-sheets. She’d collect the time-sheets from colleagues too because she knew how much I enjoyed spending my time creatively. I’m forever indebted to her for giving me the space to nurture and mature this skill in my own time, and for never limiting my potential by enforcing pseudo-cultural stereotypes and community expectations on me.

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

M: At high school I was studying both fine art and design and technology till the age of 18. Visual communication, though a combination of the artistic with the technical, weighs more toward fine art than the engineering finesse required to master design and technology aka product design, so I’d quite like to pursue that as an engineer or a designer. I wasn’t too bad either, my final year work in high school was shortlisted in the regional finals of Audi Young Designer of the Year.

I was also very interested and successful in languages, history and sciences because they explained so much about the world we live in. If I had the opportunity to live a few lifetimes, or have a few clones of myself, I’d be a linguist, archeologist, doctor and a scientist-come-engineer developing new technologies and materials on the side too.

Though saying that, the beauty of the field I work in now is that I can still incorporate elements of all the aforementioned disciplines into my work – which ultimately deals with shaping communities through the communication of ideas.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

M:  Who: Philosopher & scholar, Marshall McLuhan – whose academic background in linguistics helped forecast the evolution of communication into a ‘global village’ aka world wide web, including his succinctly seminal work, ‘the Medium is the Message’ – on the power of visual communication through a mastering and understanding of Semiotics.

Master calligrapher, Hassan Massoudy – the only creative of the 20th & thus far into the 21st Century, to have achieved seamless unity between Eastern and Western aesthetics, by understanding and respecting the philosophy and history of both. In doing so, he continues the inherited legacy of innovation and cultural experimentation from our forefathers, whose harmonising of the arts and sciences centuries ago, have become treasured icons today.

What: Historic sites of religious veneration – for their capacity to project and reflect messages, not necessarily through visual or literary media, but rather their manipulation [and somewhat ironic definition] of space to represent eternity and the everlasting.

It’s also the permanence of it. The idea of a place or object, however preserved or ruined, that has quietly bore witness to the rise and fall of generations and civilisations of humanity over the centuries – and communicated different ideas and concepts to those that were opportune enough to have shared a fraction of a moment with it during its own lifetime.

These ancient residual echoes of humanity’s past, will outlive and out-communicate the tinny cacophony of the self-righteous Digital Age once the power runs out and the world succumbs the primal darkness of nature – an inevitable acknowledgement of our humble beginnings and existential fragility. Look at the Rosetta Stone – an ancient object so complex and sophisticated it remains an enigma in our technologically advanced era today.

We have to ask ourselves, how much of what we create and communicate today will outlast what has been said & done centuries before us?

Where: Home. The East of the Middle. The cradle of civilisation. The nucleus of monotheism. There is no other region on Earth that hosted such an exotic range of topography, race, language and cultural diversity as a once unified, cohesive network of humanity.

What other region can claim to host synagogues, churches and mosques of such diversity and flair, with some [Egypt] exhibiting an unparalleled aesthetic unity modified only to suit respective motifs and icons?

It’s one of the closest embodiments of my ‘Origin of Order’ principle.

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

M: Salaam Salute [2009]

My dedication to a dream many generations had hoped to witness in their life-time, but that too few had actually fought to realize, until now.

Visually it represents a formula – the symbiotic relationship between an idea and an action in order to establish a legible result. Note the Arabic despite its contemporary look is actually based upon Kufi, the oldest known calligraphic style, attributed to and named after Kufa, a town south of Baghdad, Iraq.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

Khtt
Dezeen
CouteQueCoute
New Scientist
Wired: DangerRoom

obsession sessions had a brief hiccup and we’re broadcasting on a Tuesday, blasphemy yes … but the show must go on. This week, meet the “Egyptian Banksy” as I like to call him, mysterious and anonymous, graffiti street artist El Teneen. In his own words “I started doing street art as El Teneen (Arabic for “Dragon”) anonymously in the first days of the Egyptian Revolution in 25 January 2011. Tear gas and protest chants inspired my first piece which was the face of Egypt’s ex-tyrant Hosni Mubarak with the word “Leave” underneath it. After Mubarak stepped down, I have tried to expose the lies and conspiracy theories of Egyptian state media, to condemn the brutality of the military junta that ruled Egypt more than a year and half, and now to mock political Islamists and their extremist take on freedoms.

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

T: I had a case of fever when I was 9 and had to stay in bed for about a week. I had with me an empty notebook and two colors Turquoise and Aquamarine, and by the time I got better I filled the entire notebook with illustrations with these two colors. I don’t remember the drawings I made in this notebook well but I remember the experience of exploring the infinite possibilities of mixing just two colors.

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

T: I would be finishing my PhD.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

T:  Jokes. Puns. Taxi drivers. Ahwa (Cafes). Protest chants. Politician slip-ups. Street ads. Sheikhs. Youtube clips.

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

T: The word “Backwards” in Arabic is written under the face of angry sheikh Abdel-Monem El-Shaat. I made it as a poster a couple of weeks ago and pasted it in Cairo streets commenting on the reverse direction political Islamists are trying to steer Egypt to. Since Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi won the presidential elections earlier this year, voices of sheikhs are on the rise calling for backwards/retarded demands regarding issues such as the freedom of speech, human rights, and women rights.

Such anti-freedom voices use the name of revolution but they are trying to build an oppressive system not so different from Mubarak’s regime. They are, however, worse in the sense that instead of focusing on solving the problems for which the Egyptian revolution happened (for example social justice), they link religion with their power and their politics. Unfortunately, many Egyptians have easily fallen into the trap of believing this propaganda. I hope the “Backwards” campaign I am starting with this poster will be a counter movement.

I wrote about this piece but I didn’t translate it yet.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

Juxtapoz Street Art
Mobstr
Unurth
Arabawy
Suzee in the city

The day you ask? Why it’s Monday. This weeks’ star of the obsession sessions is no other than my good bud Tameem Youness. In his own words “Tameem Youness is not a very common name in Egypt, which gives me hardtime ordering food for example. I am 31, have twins and love sarcasm”. I met Tameem back in fall of ’99 at the College of Fine Arts in Cairo. Outspoken, charismatic, and full of energy, Tameem and myself became friends and have maintained that friendship ever since. The only way I can describe him really, is he’s a modern day Davinci with a wicked sense of humour. Tameem has so many creative outputs, it’s simply ridiculous. Animation, Art Direction, Design, Illustration, Music, Funny Videos, Mini webshows, Stand-up and more, chances are name a creative activity and Tameem probably dabbled in it, and did a pretty damn good job doing so. Over the past couple years, Tameem has become a Youtube celebrity with his witty videos that poke fun at everyday Egyptian life situations. Currently Tameem works as an Art Director at JWT Cairo.

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

T: I think it was an alarm I made for my room when i was 6. It beeps and the light blinks when the door opens.

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

T: Electronics or something software related maybe, film making? music…

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

T:  I must say I was very lucky to grow up with inspiration everywhere, starting with my mom who is an extraordinary undercover artist, my brother Ahmed Hafez who works in the same field now and taught me almost everything, college/friends and colleagues, people like Mahmoud Hamdy, Sherif Samy, Ibrahim Islam, Ibraheem Youssef, Mohamed Foad, Yahya, The Great Ahmed Hefnawy, Ali Ali, Hamdalla, and many others. International figures like Mohamed Ali, Michael Jackson, David Droga are on top of the list. Places like London and Tokyo although I’ve never been to the latter, but it really inspires me.

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

T: This is the campaign we did at JWT for Nestlé IceCream “Maxibon” and Well, The idea came as a last resort. We came up with six other ones and then this finally hit me. Kids eat any junk they encounter, they’re mostly frustrated and always daydream about eating their problems up.

Then the idea that whoever can eat this monstrosity of an ice cream sandwich, would be able to gobble up anything in his/her way. Since, according to the way these kids think “I can’t change my life, but I can eat a big ass ice cream and forget about everything.”

Above all, we thought, c’omon, we’re selling ice-cream here! so let’s be less smart ass about it and let’s do something stupid! Presenting the idea to the client was anything but smooth, but we finally convinced them. And our work paid off, because it proved that creativity indeed sells, maybe a bit too much in their case considering they ran out of stock in the market.

The best thing about this campaign, is that it empowered people to take ownership of the brand, they embraced and loved the brand, creating parodies and singing along, instead of the brand trying to act cool and relevant to them. Even ”Ensa homoom el donya ya sahby” “forget the worries of the world my friend” the line in the song featured in the ad, became a golden quote in Egyptian local folklorish music.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

LikeCool
Yay Every Day!
Twitter
Youtube
Facebook

Monday, Inspiration, let’s get right to it. Meet Illustrator  Jon Defreest. I came across Jon’s work via the internet, we are both big fans of the AMC show Breaking Bad, and Jon recently did a couple tribute pieces to the show, that actually got him some attention from the cast members themselves. It doesn’t get cooler than that folks. Seeing his tribute artwork to BB, I was compelled even more to explore the rest of his art and I was pleasantly surprised with how talented he is.

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

J: I vividly remember making my own Ecto-Cooler print ads using stick figures and crayons. I kind of want to dig through all my old drawings and see if I can find that particular piece and recreate it.

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

J: Before I became a full time artist I was working in online marketing. I honestly wonder how long I could have lasted. I probably still would be making the same kind of art I do now in my spare time though.

I: Inspiration, who? what? where?

J: Most of my inspiration comes from the internet. Sites like Behance.net and Deviantart.com are amazing places to find new artists and styles. Aside from that, almost all of my work is inspired by either a movie or TV show. I’ve loved fan art ever since I was a kid.

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

J: I just finished this personal project last weekend. George Bluth’s !@#$%&*! Cornballs Cereal. It’s a reference to the extremely dangerous “Cornballer” from Arrested Development. I’m usually under such tight deadlines that I don’t have the luxury of really taking my time with my illustrations. This one was just for me though, so I was able to take a week and make sure I got everything just the way I wanted.

I: Name 5 websites that you check often.

UpRoxx
Superpunch
Deviant Art
AbduZeedo
Behance



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

Welcome to my blog.

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

are some of the things I tend
to obsess over constantly.
Find out more about me here,
or check out some shots from my
travels around the world here.

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blog@ibraheemyoussef.com

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