So, how did you end up where you are now?
I was born and raised Bahrain, now living and working in London. I’d always been interested in the arts during school and never really thought of any other career path. I went on to study interior architecture and product design at university in the UK. Even though my studies were more 3D based, I’ve always had a deeper appreciation for 2D graphics. I did an internship at an interior design company in Hong Kong for 9 months and after finishing, I realized that 2D was the path I’d much rather take. I now work as part of the graphics team at an exhibition design company in London doing graphic work for exhibitions and museums worldwide.
What are some trends in your field that you wish you could bring back, and which ones would you rather forget?
I’m really loving traditional print methods at the moment. I recently took a lino print class and it was so great to come home after each lesson with something that you made that day. I love the imperfections you get in that way of working. They are faults that are highlighted and appreciated. As digital is so precise, you are scrutinized for any discrepancies or errors made. In more manual work, each mark means something. I know that traditional print methods aren’t really a lost trend, but it appears to be used mainly by freelancers doing small scale projects. I think it would be nice to get these methods back into more commercial projects. Last year I got the chance to see items from the Post Office archive in London as part of my job. My favourite part was seeing all the original posters designed for the post office. Some of the wood block prints I saw were so lovely. With everything so fast paced these days, it’s much easier to churn out designs digitally, but I think it would be so much more valuable to get our hands dirty again and go back to basics.
Edited by Padmini Chandrasekaran
Fatima has been my friend and fellow artist since we were twelve. From the cross-stitch embroideries with cheeky euphuisms that she made for her A-Level Art project to the bursting-with-personality invitation to her wedding, I’ve always been a great admirer of her unique style and ideas. Now a graphic artist at an exhibition design company in London, she continues to apply her creativity and skill to both professional and personal projects.
"I love the imperfections you get in [traditional print methods].
In more manual work, each mark means something."
Tell us about your thought process working through your collection project – how did you develop this practice?
It’s an ongoing project that I started 7 years ago, but it hasn’t really got a name. It started while I was doing my final project during my undergrad. I was looking at the the value of objects and the stories that they hold that can contribute to the character and identity of an individual. I was particularly interested in objects that one wouldn’t think would hold any value, discarded possessions, that may store more than one thinks. I began photographing these objects in a very clinical way, face on and behind a white background. I love this method of recording, it allows you to focus on that one object, and bring out their stories. I carried on photographing objects in that way, even after I graduated, going through abandoned drawers and old shoe boxes in my parents' house, photographing them, and then remembering the stories that are attached to each object. I have the idea to extend my idea further and photograph items from other peoples homes, places whose stories I don’t know, and depicting my own. Still just an idea for now though!
What do you wish the world knew about people in your field?
I think people who have no design experience or interest do not realize the amount of effort and thought that goes into the work that we do. Clients often expect you to come up with a design solution under a very tight deadline. People do not realize that design is a process and not just a jump from A to Z - we need time!
Invite any three people in history to dinner – Where do you hope the conversation will go?
I can’t think of three, but I would really love to invite Prince to dinner. I’ve always admired his individuality and his very care-free persona. I would also like to know how it is possible to not have one bad song in your music bank. I would also like to know his secret to being good at everything. Then I’d probably steal some of his clothes.
What have been some of your biggest strengths vs struggles during your career so far?
Probably making the shift from 3D to 2D. I found that many companies would preferred to take a lower risk approach when it came to hiring and favored people with degrees in graphics or sufficient graphics work experience, rather than someone who had a background in a different design discipline. I was fortunate to find a company that has a lot of Middle Eastern clients, so my Arabic language skills helped me to land an internship there. This later turned into a full time job. I started off in a fairly entry level role, artworking presentations for pitches and client presentations. As I progressed, I put myself forward for any jobs requiring graphic work. I taught myself to use all the relevant software and proved that my skills extend to more than just artworking. I was lucky enough to find a company that listened to what I was interested in doing. As a result, they now have the confidence in me that I can get the job done and I’ve also gained confidence in myself.
Who are some artists that you feel have impacted your own practice?
For me, the use of a grid is always a good starting point for designing something well. I’m particularly inspired by Swiss graphic design posters by pioneers like Josef Müljer-Brockmann and Massimo Vignelli.
I looked into Arabic typography for an exhibition we were working on at work. This opened up a whole new area of exploration for me which I never appreciated before. The intricacy and complexity of arabic typography has made it troublesome for designers to digitize arabic types and come up with useable fonts, so I really admire the few arabic typographers out there who are working hard to merge latin typefaces with traditional arabic calligraphic styles. I love the work of Lara Assouad Khoury who worked with a Dutch type designer called Fred Smeijer to come up with an Arabic version of his font, Fresco. She also designed a beautiful typeface called Tabati, stripping down each arabic letter into very basic block shapes. To me the font gives a beautiful simplicity to what is often seen as a highly ornamented and decorative type style.