Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cartooning People = Making Money ?

An Artist Must Have Sort of Income .. Right ?

First days of cartooning people - (Garage Sale Bazar )  Ramadan 2008

Artists always need some source of income to keep going, sadly in the country I was raised   in - Saudi Arabia - , not everyone around me supported the idea of being a cartoonist. Being an artist is not something a dad will brag to his friends about, unlike being a doctor or an Engineer. Therefore the whole mentality of the public or community is messed up about artists, and that if they make money then it should be insignificant because all they do is draw on a "piece of paper".

 A lot considered drawing human characters "Haram" or forbidden by Islam and religion. I remember having to draw some characters without a neck, or draw a distorted face, put a line on their neck, and other stupid suggestions from some family religious members or teachers. 

So even with a community that doesn't appreciate Art and considers it as a hobby that won't make you live, Another portion considered it Haram and by doing so you are disobeying what god and his prophet said -which is of course Bull shit and Islam is innocent from this crap - . 

This Religious mentality changed a lot nowadays, and it's less strict about this subject. Yet the community still thrives with the appreciation of Artists. God blessed me with amazing parents that never cared for what other people may say, and that supported me all the way. One of the first things that my father cared about teaching me, is always make your own penny, work hard and whatever you want to own, buy it yourself . Even though the community maybe messed up, keep going in the direction god blessed you with. 

At a meeting with some german visitors 2009

It's Ramadan 2008. My friend Mohammad Ghulman, and his brother rented a table in a Bazar. It was organized by, and it was called "the Garage Sale". My friend was selling used items around the house, such as used video games, some antiques, and so on. I went the first day and the place was packed with people from all over Jeddah. I brought some games to sell, but didn't feel that was any fun nor did it bring any real cash. 

A light bulb exploded above my head, with an idea I honestly never tried before...

Why not bring a sketch book and start sketching people for money ? quick 5 minute cartoony portraits of random people.. and so I did.. 

I started at my friends table with a price of 25 SR, and I was bringing costumers to his table and at the same time making nice money, while drawing a smile on whoever was drawn. 

I was moved to my own spot next to the cashier the second day, after attracting a lot of customers, and I reduced the price to 10 sr ( almost 3$). Yet the amount of people kept increasing and I was the happiest cartoonist on earth. 

From that Garage sale I was introduced to the people that I must say changed my life forever. A community I wasn't aware of that existed right next door. A community of Artists,  and pioneers. That were going against all the odds. I found a Jeddawy community that embraced me as an artist. Appreciated the work I did, and exposed me to the professional world of artists and designers in Saudi Arabia. 

I must say they were my first Artistic Family.. 

more from the German visitors 2009
From cartooning people, I went on to comic Design, Cartoon illustrating, Logo Designing, Caricatures, Animations, and I'm still on the journey of more and more. Yet I never stopped the cartoon portraits that were almost my signature. By time it kept getting better, adding colors, using photoshop, and adding affects to them. 

American School Carnival - 2009

Another Ramadan Bazar with Mohammad Ghulman. 2009


The Journey will never stop, I'm still learning, and still going forward to establish more skill and professionalize even more. 

One of the most recent huge Portraits 2011
Drawn on The Jusoor Cafe wall 2011
In conclusion... in this journey of becoming a professional artist one must know that being an artist doesn't mean you can't make any income. Looking back at how Cartooning people changed the way I interacted with the artistic community in Jeddah, I learned that as an artist you have to get out there and work. Start early, start with motivation... You don't need to get paid a lot, yet your name is very important so get yourself out there. I went through some rough patches with clients that didn't appreciate my hard work, and that would tell me this is just a "piece of paper" that doesn't mean anything.. I would work countless nights, and then get paid nothing. Every artist must go through this, therefore never give up. Keep going and you will find the way. Follow your passion and god won't let you down. 

My Senior Class of 2011 
funny portraits in school haha 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The High School Graduation Project

Art Appreciated 
A project that I would describe as a milestone in my Animating Journey. 

     2011 was a great year for me and my friend Mohammed Al-Guthmi.. A year we proved that we can make a major project in just a few months, about a very great cause, concerning the Saudi community and youth.

     In my School "Dar al-Fikr" every senior must present a graduation project. This project counts as a class and affects your GPA. Projects could be about anything, and a single project can have up to a team of 4. 

    Two of my Friends Abdulrahman Linjawi, and Abdulrahman Badayyan, Suggested that I make my graduation project about Art and the value of it, and even suggested that I team up with my buddy Mohammed Al-Guthmi for his great Artistic sense. 

    I talked with my Friend Mohammed about the Idea and we agreed to do it together as team. The school requires that we make a presentation, and a small booklet explaining our project. After many meetings, we decided that on top of that we create a, small short cartoon, big Banners to show off the idea in school, and design our own thobes -Saudi uniform- that went a long with the theme of our project. 

    We split the tasks , Mohammed was responsible for writing and arranging the idea, recording the voice over for the cartoon, bringing the green fabric from his Father's company for our Thobes, and arrange the Presentation. I on the other hand was responsible for Making all the design work, designing the booklet, the presentation, animating the cartoon, and creating the Logo. All of this was in the end supervised by both of us, and we both helped out each other to make this project work, and create a great cause. 

The Logo phases... 

    I must thank Basmah Felemban for her great comments and suggestions for this Logo at first, as a great designer her critiques were always right on. This Idea came to mind when I was at the American Embassy in Riyadh, I was busy doodling and this idea popped out.

  The name of this project was not yet official. We were wondering between Art Undefined and Art Appreciated, we finally named the project "Art Appreciated", because our whole idea was to make it appreciated in our community and country that really pushes art away.

  The colors at first were rather boring and uninteresting, so I decided to give the logo the look of the Saudi passport, dark green with a little bit of gold here and there. Combine the Saudi logo "two swords and a Palm Tree" with the word art. To create an Idea that Art is the palm tree, and these two swords represent the community that doesn't appreciate it. Another thank must go to the amazing Calligrapher Mohammed Ghulman, who wrote the "Art Appreciated" in Arabic for the logo, it was amazingly done.

Attempt #1


the Beginning...

Final Result with Ghulmans Calligraphy
Attempt #3

and the End...

The "Art Dubai" Trip

   To professionalize this project even more, I decided to take a trip to Dubai and attend the ArtDubai gallery and event. The main goals were to contact Arab artists, take a lot of pictures of unique artistic material made by them, get to see the artistic community, gather information and data, and above all a source of inspiration for this project. 

The Short Animation

    The short animation was a challenge, but rather an amazing one. Like any animation you always need a story then a storyboard to start with, and that task required a lot of brain storming with my buddy Mohammed alguthmi. It took a lot of sleepless nights, I would go to his house and stay up all night animating and making this Animation happen. 

    I truly believed that having this Animation along with the presentation and booklet will prove a very distinctive point to the judges, which is how much we value art, and how we're willing to take it to the next level with this graduation project.

    While making this Animation, we came to a point where doing the voice over was a pain in the ass. I was obviously not a good narrator, I struggled with the recording and had to record countless times and always rejected it. Yet my friend Mohammed came up to me and told me that he'll give it a shot.. and so he did.. and the result was AMAZING !  

Here is the 4 minute Animation with subtitles.

The Presentation:  

We were very nervous on that day, but we were very well prepared. The presentation, Booklets, Thobes, Banners, and of course the Animation.

The booklet..

The booklet was written by my Teammate and friend Mohammed Al-Guthmi, and designed by me. It was uniquely printed so u flip it upwards. The Booklet was printed for each of the Judges. 


    They say dress to impress, and so we did. Our project theme was the color green, so Mohammed got us some green fabric from his father's Fabric company "Al-Guthmi". We went to a shop who designed our thobes with that fabric. We entered the Presentation and the judges were shocked. Because this was definitely unexpected since the usual color of a thobe is white. 

The Banners..

Simple, Huge, and appealing... that was the message.

Finally the Presentation

   Mohammed and I, controlled the presentation using both our iphones, with the keynote app, we added notes, that we were able to read right off the iphone, and noted each slide with the name of whoever's turn it is to talk. 

   Best of all the whole thing was recorded and is on youtube.. 


   I really hoped that by this project I was able to convey a message to the Saudi community about the value of Art and how we really can't leave Art out of the picture. It was an amazing Journey that I had with my friend Mohammed, going through the writing of the idea, the interviews we made with Design companies, the trip to Dubai, the Animation, Presentation and Booklet. It was all worth it.. We Received a grade of 97 and the Judges were more than satisfied.. even though we didn't really go by the rule book they gave us. Yet we stuck to our time limit and conveyed the message artistically and with passion. 

waiting for the Judges critiques.. :P

note: I would like to thank everyone I couldn't cover in this blog, and not everything in the presentation in written here, so watch the video if you didn't do so yet.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Newspaper Caricatures

I must say that one of my favorite career adventures was being the caricature Artist for Al-Bilad newspaper. 

one of the first Caricatures

I always wished to be a caricature artist for a newspaper. 

and that wish came true in 2011.

Ever since I was a little kid, the number one thing I would do once holding a newspaper, was flipping it and checking out a new caricature at the back, or going through the pages just to see the caricatures then throw that newspaper away.

The most affective caricatures for me, are the ones that hide some dark humor within them, without really trying too hard. 

My favorite Saudi Caricature Artist must be "Khalid", his caricatures are at the back of Al-Watan newspaper. He is simply a genius.


Haya'a CSI

The Real Driving Test

This country is perfect

Iftar and Sahoor

Family Tourism 

No vimto

Bashar Al-Asa'ad

New Shows

Google+ vs Facebook


Days left for project

Khaliji Series

My Caricatures were a mix of both, politics related, and Culture related content. I Always liked to keep it simple and never try to force that laugh on you. 

Khalid's technique was a very big inspiration for me. White background and characters in the middle, with bright colors and a defined outline. He always made me laugh every single time I saw any of his caricatures. Therefore that was my goal in every Caricature I created for al-bilad newspaper.

I stopped making the daily Caricatures for al-bilad after leaving to the US, to start studying my major.

A lot insisted I keep doing them, but the Newspapers editor changed and I was afraid I won't have the same freedom I had before. So I went on to find a new adventure. 

First Self-Portrait

Every Cartoonist must have some kind of image of how he may look like as a cartoon character, and in 2008 this is how I portrayed my self.

This cartoon portrait brings back a lot of great memories. When I first started working at they made an interview with me to post on their newsletter at the time, so I decided to draw myself for that article. 

My curly afro was always my signature in every cartoony character I create, if I add that style of hair, then you must know in some way that I relate to that character. 

and From that first portrait I went on to make many others..