Meet Rami, the groundbreaking Dubai based artist painting the city with his unique style.
If you were to walk around media city in Dubai or eat from popular Pizza chain "Pitfire Pizza" then you would notice a unique fusion of random chaos put together in a very beautiful way. The artwork is reflection of it's creator Rami, a Palestinian artist born in Saudi Arabia, who grew up on pop culture, comic books and cartoons. All of which served as an inspiration for the unique artwork he creates today. From small freelance gigs to painting murals all around the city, Rami talks his early days and inspirations, how he turned his passion for art into a business and what the future holds for him.
Were you always an artist, was it something you were into since you were a child?
I've been drawing since I could remember. I used to want to be a cartoonist growing up and I used to entertain myself when I was bored by doodling, summers in Saudi when everyone had left the country, at my grandma's house in Alexandria, in the classroom... There was a lot of boredom and a lot of drawing!
What were your artistic inspirations growing up?
Again, because I grew up in Saudi, I didn't have access to art galleries like everyone else, so I got most of my inspiration from the cartoons I was watching (Transformers, Ninja Turtles), the video games I was playing (anything on Nintendo) and the comic books I was reading (Spider-man, Daredevil, etc) and most important of all, MTV!!!
How would you describe your style of art?
I describe my art as mental diarrhea! I basically put my pen to the paper and draw whatever comes out. It's like a stream of consciousness, often-times completely random but deep down interconnected.
What was the first piece you remember doing?
I don't remember the first piece I ever did since I've been drawing forever, but I do remember tracing and sketching cartoon characters. I also remember the first piece I made which made me think, "hey! I would buy that". This was a big moment for me as I always looked at other artists and was jealous of their art. I never thought I could do the same thing. That was the turning point when I felt like I could be an artist, it was a set of three doodles I'd done that I decided to put on the computer and color.
What was the moment where you art went from being a hobby to business/career.
At university, I did a bunch of freelance work for extra pocket money, I would design flyers for clubs, magazine covers and things like that. Eventually, I got an internship at a tourism company in Jordan and redesigned their collateral, this was my first paid full-time job. Once I graduated from college, I moved to back to Jordan (hadn't lived there since i was 5 years old) and the only careers available were in publishing or advertising, advertising seemed more exciting at the time.
How are you able to turn your art into a business where you work with brands and make your own products?
A strong portfolio is the most important tool for an artist, however, a good portfolio alone won't get you anywhere, you need to publicize it and network. I would go out loads, constantly meet people and show them my work. Whenever I met someone who did something interesting (musicians, video games designers, fashion designers, etc) or worked for an interesting brand (like Nike) I would suggest we work together.
The media city wall is an iconic structure that you’ve painted, what was that like and what is the story behind that project?
It was a funny job that kinda grew out of something very small. An ex colleague of mine contacted me and mentioned he was working for Tecom group (the people who run Media City). He said that he was bothered by how un-creative Media City was (visually speaking) and wanted to do something to jazz it up. He originally suggested doing some elevator door designs for the buildings where the big media companies (like CNN and MBC) were housed. We came up with the idea of depicting the different creatives who work in the area (like a reporter, a creative director, a designer, etc). They liked the work so much that they came back to me and asked me to create a design for the inside of the elevator that depicted what the brains of these people looked like. So, I did that, they liked it so much that they asked if I'd be interested in putting it across a fence. I happily obliged and added some extra elements like typography and extended the elevator door character designs to add some variety and that was that!
Coming from a Palestinian/Arab background that is rich in culture, how do you incorporate your culture and background with your art?
Funnily enough, I used to aspire to being Western so much that I ignored my Arabic background. However, after I moved to the UK for university, I realized that what made me interesting to everyone was my Arabic background. So often, I would boast about our rich heritage and culture and even the similarities in our lifestyles. Eventually, I started celebrating what made us different and even the funny questions I was asked about the Middle East (Do you ride a camel to work?, Are you a Prince?, Do you own an oil well?)
What are your top 5 dream collaborations?
-Any Musician I admire
From the beginning of your journey until now, what are the 3 most important things you’ve learned?
-Always set unrealistic goals, because honestly, sometimes you actually do achieve them!
-Network like crazy, because you never know who you might run into that might open a door for your career.
-You can really accomplish anything you set your mind to, it might take 10-20 years to do so, be patient and don't give up, but the longer it takes to accomplish something, the more rewarding the journey and the end result.
Check out Rami's work on his Instagram page at: https://www.instagram.com/rami.art/
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