10 Illustrators Carrying the Legacy of Visual Art in the Region

These are the names you should know

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This year saw the release of the first-ever full-length book documenting the history of Arab graphic design. Needless to say, it was a long-overdue initiative to celebrate the region’s rich heritage in visual art.

The book A History of Arab Graphic Design, which was published by artists and scholars Bahia Shehab and Haytham Nawar, comprises more than 600 illustrations such as the opening and closing title script of Egyptian soap opera Layali El Helmeya by calligrapher Massad Khudair Al Bursaiidi and a 1999 Fairouz music CD cover designed by Leila Musfy and calligraphed by Samir Sayigh. 

A vast collection spanning the evolution of this artform in the region from the early 1900s until the present. The publication proves to be a true attestation of a field that is still very much alive with a slew of talented illustrators and graphic designers carrying on the legacy.

To celebrate them, we’ve rounded up the best.

Nourie Flayhan

 

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

 
Une publication partagée par nourie (@nouriflayhan)

No introduction is needed for the Kuwait-raised Lebanese artist who has dominated the illustration game in the region for the past few years. Whether it’s portraits celebrating prominent figures in the region (notably women) or illustrations that tackle social issues in the Levant, her work is sought-after by everyone, from local organizations to luxury brands. In 2018, she was tapped by Gucci for their 2018 Gucci Bloom campaign and illustrated the poster of the label’s first ever Musalsal Gucci this year.

Anna Benarrosh-Orsoni

The Corsican-Moroccan illustrator is known for her provocative illustrations that challenge taboos around the human body and sexuality. 

Deena Mohamed

 

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Une publication partagée par Deena Mohamed (@itsdeenasaur)

The Egyptian illustrator kicked off her comics-making career at eighteen with a webcomic called ‘Qahera’ which follows a Muslim Egyptian hijabi superhero in her fight against Islamophobia and misogyny. Mohamed’s work is always focused on community development, raising awareness and pushing for women and local representation.

Shirien Damra

 

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Une publication partagée par shirien (@shirien.creates)

Damra is the illustrator behind the colorful portrait of George Floyd that went viral last June. A Palestinian Muslim immigrant from a family of refugees, Damra has used her illustrations to stand in solidarity with countless social injustices and minority communities, including her own. 

Rex Chouk

 

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Une publication partagée par Rex (@rexchouk)

The Saudi multi-media artist creates characters that are integrated with Saudi slang, commentary and pop culture references.

Aïcha El Beloui

The Moroccan illustrator and graphic designer explores notions of belonging, citizenship and freedom in her urban designs of the city. Her usually black and white animations with a rare touch of blue depict characters in everyday life settings and are packed with political and social messages.

Mouza Al Hamrani

Ajman-based illustrator and multimedia designer Mouza Al Hamrani has developed her sketches from a long-time influence from SpaceToon characters and fan art. Her practice revolves around experiences within her Khaleeji upbringing, as is the case with her first comic book, ‘Kool grandma’, which portrays Khaleeji grandmothers in a humorous and playful way.

Ethar Balkhair

The Jeddah-based illustrator and graphic designer loves to portray female figures in a form of power, romanticism and subtle beauty. Fashion and nature are always part of her color-blocking illustrations.

Khalid Mezaina

 

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Une publication partagée par Khalid Mezaina (@kmezaina)

The Dubai-based illustration and textiles artist is known for his cool life-filled drawings that draw inspiration from Emirati reality. His sometimes humorous, sometimes more serious approach is putting regional comics on the map.

Mona Chalabi

 

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Une publication partagée par Mona Chalabi (@monachalabi)

Mona Chalabi is a data journalist and writer but also an illustrator whose work is dedicated to creating dynamic, beautifully drawn out and easy to understand data charts to explain social issues and pressing matters around the world. Her illustrations have been exhibited at several galleries including the Tate, The Design Museum and the House of Illustration.

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