Can you tell me a little bit about you?
I am a Palestinian-Canadian living in Toronto. I went to OCAD U and I majored in Photography. After art school I shifted to painting as my medium of choice. I continue to utilize my background in photography as a means of subsistence by freelancing on commercial photography shoots.
When did you first discover art, or realize you wanted to make it yourself?
I don’t know when I discovered art. But I have a faint memory of drawing a bird and hearing excitement in my mothers voice when she remarked on the drawing. That was the first special moment.
What do you like most about working where you do?
Toronto is great, I’ve been living in the city for 15 years. I’ve had two studios in the past 5 years in the west end, and in the midst of moving to my third studio. Being here means I’m always close to many great artists, galleries, museums and institutions.
What ideas are you exploring in your practice?
My practice is constantly changing and my bodies of work are always different from each other. I started out making self-portrait photographs and videos, lots of identity work. And then I went towards painting, started out with still lifes, then figurative works that referenced photographs, and now the current series looks nothing like any of the past works.
My current series Head Space could be seen as a Neo mash-up of Orphism, Surrealism and Fauvist.
What is your process like?
No research needed for the current work. However I always like reading art books or listening to panel talks, lectures, art docs etc.
Since I work small and on paper a piece typically takes 2-3 sessions in the studio to complete. I always work on more than one piece at a time, even though I exclusively work with acrylic paint, I still like to have multiple works going on at once. I just think about life, this world, this existence, the journey, love, death, loneliness, dreams, hope, and channel that into the work. However it is easier to create a new visual language and embed my thoughts into the forms, colours and compositions.
What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to do for art?
I did one of those art battle live painting things when I was in my first year at art school, more than once.
Do you have a day job or other work that you split your time between?
I’ve been freelancing in commercial photography for the past five years and it has been very rewarding.
Do you have a mentor, or a piece of advice (or both), which has influenced your practice?
I always seek advice from people who have been in the art scene longer.
What is your studio like?
Do you have any routines or rituals in the studio that get you into the mode or mindset to make your work?
When I’m in the studio I want coffee while listening to a 90’s hip hop mix. And I have a pair of comfy studio shoes that I wear when I go in.
I have to balance my studio work with my freelance work. Any day I’m not on a gig, I’m at the studio. Some weeks I go in 5-6 days, and I usually go in for 8-12 hours. Other weeks I can only make it in once or twice and it might be for just a few hours.
How significant has attending art school been on your practice?
Art school (BFA) was a great launching point. You get the learning part, as well as finding a community, and the confidence to believe in oneself to pursue a career/life as an artist.
I don’t want an MFA right now, but who knows how I’ll feel in a few years. I have heard so many opinions on the matter that I’d rather not think about it and focus on making good art first.
How would you define “success” in art?
Inspiring other artists / future artists