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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

Illusive Creative AntiiMuse Gives a Rare Insight into His Come Up

You don't know his real name, you don't know what he looks like, but you've definitely seen his work. For a couple of years now, the illusive creative known as "AntiiMuse" has been making waves in the city of Dubai, bringing his unique perspective and style to Dubai's creative and nightlife industries. From distinctive photoshoots to working with Dubai's most popular up and coming brands to covering some of the most exiting parties in the city, AntiiMuse is quickly becoming a sought-after photographer in the UAE. It does seem like he came out of nowhere, so we had to sit down and have a conversation with the man behind the metal mask. In this interview, AntiiMuse talks to us about the real story behind his name, why he keeps a mystery around him, his experience in Dubai's creative scene and much more.

-What was your first interaction with the camera and when did you know that it would become your creative outlet?

I considered doing the YouTube thing, but since I don't want to show my face, it won't work. But, I've always planned to save money in order to get a camera and use it to create visuals. Not long after I started meeting people in the industry, including Nelson, who is an amazing cinematographer and was out here doing his thing while attending university and I thought to myself “if he can do it, so can I.”

I found myself running into more and more people in the creative industry, and the more I picked their brains, the more I realized that I had to give it a shot; plus, it would be easy money, and I would have something to keep me occupied during the summer. Not long after, I got my hands on a camera, and now I'm here.

-What is the meaning behind the name “Antii Muse?”

The actual meaning behind it is a funny thing. Nowadays what I tell people is there's no muse to my game. I'm always on the go, no muse to my game, I just do my shoots. Anything, anywhere, doesn't matter what it is, it always comes out fire.

However, the name's true history dates back to my time in university. At that point, I had a thing with a girl and subsequently found out that she had a thing going on with my homie on the side, so I ended things with both of them and channeled all of my resentment and hatred on finishing my semester project. The same girl came up to me as I was packing to head home after my presentation and said, "Oh, I liked your presentation and design. "I replied: "Well, I had to put all my anger and resentment towards you both into it" "I'm kind of a muse for this project," she said. Then my friend began to chuckle and said, "More like anti-muse," and we started laughing like crazy.

That's where the name first originated. When it came down to naming my page, I just kept thinking about what he had said. I refused to use my real name. I decided to go with AntiiMuse and the rest is history.

-Which project of yours means the most to you so far and why?

Currently, this has to be my first pop-up, and to be honest, my only motivation for doing it was to prove a point, the point being that it's very easy to put something together in a very short span of time and make it eventful. I constantly come across people with potential in the industry and in life at large, but they rarely take advantage of it. They just put things off and give excuses.

I made the decision to hold this pop-up as an event without charging or funding it. That's exactly what took place. I threw an elaborate pop-up gathering and invited a a lot of friends and associates. In less than a month, I developed the concept and carried it out. So, I'd say that's my favorite project so far. That's the one measure I'm proud of as of right now, but I'm working on other stuff that will top it off.

-Who are 5 people you dream of collaborating with?

Right of my top of my head, I'd say Timberland Boots, Sole DXB., Nike. Kanye, J. Cole. Kendrick... you know what, I'll give you more than 5.

Wes Anderson, Quentin Tarantino, Denzel Washington, Jonathan Majors, no name, Louis Sims, Erica Badu, need to work with Ms. Badu, Lauren Hill, Andre 3000. Yeah, let me just cut it off here.

-Why do you choose to keep a mystery around you?

My whole thing is to keep my existence nonexistent. I dislike having my personal life and career intertwined. I want my art to be unique, and I want it to stand on its own. Because becoming renowned and flaunting one's face is the primary motivation for many aspiring to do what I do. I'm not too concerned about it, though. I prefer that my work be its own entity and that I be my own entity in order to maintain the nonexistence of myself. Since people are more likely to see honesty in my work, the less they know about me, not only that, but I want my work to be the talking point. As a result, I began to wear a mask to public gatherings to avoid showing my face. And what better mask to wear to hide my face than that of the great villain MF Doom (R.I.P.), who is a big motivation for me.

-You’ve worked with many people and brands in Dubai’s creative industry, how has your experience been with Dubai’s creative industry and where do you see it going?

All in all, the industry is a peculiar thing. In both positive and negative ways, it's an odd community. positively. You get to know a lot of amazing individuals who create amazing things; they support you without asking anything in return because they appreciate what you do, and you do the same. These people are sincere and enthusiastic about what they do. Others, however, are poisonous. You have older folks in their thirties and fourties behaving like children and squabbling with people half their age. "Don't work with this person; don't work with that person" is something I alaways hear from individuals, which is a shame because we can all win all in all. It's an isolated community as well, which is problematic. Nobody is interested in your skills or what you bring to the table. It's mostly about the influence others have around you. Again, I see a lot of untalented or loafing people who get noticed because they have influence and hang around with certain people, while the ones that are deserving are cast to the side.

-What does photography mean to you?

To be honest, not much. I just do it primarily because it's simple and enjoyable. I don't use it to express myself in any way. Again, it's simple and that's why I do it. "Is there a more significant meaning to it?" No, easy and enjoyable, not too deep.

-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Since I tend to just follow the flow, I'll be honest and say that I have no idea. With all that I've been through over the years, I just know God has my back and has curated a path for me.

Nevertheless, I would add that it would be wonderful if, in ten years, I had a studio of my own where I could display my artwork and maybe even teach people a thing or two. Overall, I'm just following life's course. Whatever happens, happens.

-How did it feel getting your first paid gig as a photographer and what advice do you have for photographers looking to monetize their passion?

My first job was through a recommendation from a friend. He told me it makes sense to get compensated for what you're excellent at. So, I replied, "Why not?" and stopped doing it for the free labor.

However, people should avoid getting finessed, because it's a fair game, and you can't even be angry about it. You can hate the game, not the player. People will attempt to save expenses by cutting your pay or convincing you to do free work, and as messed up as it is, business goes on. Always prioritize yourself and be in the company of well-meaning individuals who genuinely wish to see you succeed in all that you undertake.

-From the time you started until now, what are the 3 most important things you’ve learned?

The three most significant lessons I've picked up are:

First and foremost, you must prioritize yourself. You have to put your physical, mental, and emotional well-being first. You must prioritize it. You have to take care of yourself, even if some may feel you're selfish. Because nobody else is going to do it for you.

The second piece of advice is to constantly be loyal to who you are, and you do; otherwise, others will try to sidetrack you with their opinions of you, so you need to stay focused and do you.

Thirdly, you have to develop an ability to not care, a lot of people will try to do or say things to harm you. You have to be unfazed by it.

Wait, I'll a drop more gems.

Build connections, because no one cares about what you know how to do. It's who you know that matters. It's 80% who you know that matters.

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