My Visual Story

 

Project 

A personal collective of recent works.

 

Context

The point of this collage is not to entertain your eyes (or hurt them), but rather to convey a relevant personalized aesthetic rooted in visual context and maximalism.

 

Insights

In the beginning was the context: A designer is driven to constantly redefine his profession and deal with the daily cultural and technological changes within a certain context. Mine is the Arab world, which has been thriving to find a cultural identity that was long lost due to a whole history of colonial and religious turmoil.

 

Finding a single definition for an ‘Arab cultural identity’ is highly unrealistic due to numerous contextual differences within the region itself, not to mention the divergence of conflicting systems of rituals, ethnicities and religions.

 

Efforts to define and understand are elements of a process that’s comparable to ‘divide and conquer’ simply because ‘unity’ is a highly fictitious and constructed concept.

 

At the level of Graphic Design, and in a post-colonial situation of confusion and residues, designers find themselves -consciously or not- taking one of four distinct paths:

 

A dismissive attitude: A total embrace of the dominant culture and a direct honest reach for westernization reflected through a minimalist aesthetic.

A passive exchange: A minor interaction with cultural attributes using a local discourse without necessarily adopting its ideologies. It is a discourse emerging from design education in the region starting from Lebanon, and the very ‘imported’ nature of Graphic Design in practice and curricula.

A glorified exoticism of self: A path attempting to reclaim a local identity, however, mostly addressing a western audience by using westernized tools and strategies.

A minor reach for arts and crafts: minimal in effect but highly emerging from an alternative nationalistic and/or leftist approach to visual arts.

 

These polarities have all been explored in Arab Design to an extent that speaking about ‘Orientalism’ becomes a redundantly dismissed topic in the creative discourse.

 

For instance, Design Weeks in the region are well-versed in the first two paths: They are all steps away from the design related socio-political arguments – which belong in the past – and are totally invested in discussing technology, social design, service and interaction design – the future – which is another manifestation of an imperialistic urge for dismissal and an apathetic tendency in dealing with this problematic status-quo.

 

I come from Lebanon, a country that has been highly engaged in the creative self-representation of the Arab region. 

 

Graphic Design programmes started from Beirut, a city that embraces a cosmopolitan identity and a European appeal on the surface but is still truly immersed in a complex system of overlapping – conflicting - cultures, religions and rituals. Beirut is a city that’s mostly owned by a private company that altered its cultural identity for the mere sake of ‘modernism’. It has lived post-colonialism to the extreme edge, but is now facing a new identity challenge: Self-Orientalism.

 

The latter is unfortunately not an innocent design trend, but a class-related socio-political problem that excessively alters self-representation, internally and externally to an extent where we have surpassed ‘being Orientalized by the West’ to ‘Exoticising our own culture’.  Self-Exoticism can lead to numerous consequences on local cultures, both visually and ideologically such as alteration, distortion and decontextualization.

 

Staying true to my upbringing, sociocultural background and experiences, I found myself to be a maximalist by nature and choice: More is most definitely, more!

 

 

Appendix

(Staring from the top, left to right) 

 

‘Beirut Is’ - Illustration Exhibition - Beirut 2015

KAFI - Branding and Communication - Beirut 2015

Odyssey - Branding and Communication - Beirut 2015

The Mojo Posters - Beirut 2015

The Mojo Posters - Beirut 2015

AKV St.Joost Sebastian Olma’s Lecture Poster - Breda 2016

The Mojo Posters - Beirut 2015

AKV St.Joost Inaugural Lectures Poster - Breda 2016

Radio Beirut - Event Posters - Beirut 2013/14

The Shock of Energy Transition by Fouad Saad - Book Cover - Beirut 2016

Louis de Funes - Illustration published at FIMP Magazine - Beirut 2014

Dawwamat al Gharak - Arabic Lettering Workshop - Beirut 2013

A collection of lettering samples - 2013/14/15