Hello Hala, we’re delighted to have a chat about your background and your artistic practice.
Hala, could you tell me about yourself and your background?
I’m a Lebanese visual artist & visual designer currently based in the Netherlands.
I studied architecture in Beirut, but knew quite early on I was more interested in the artistic & conceptual side of my studies.
After my Bachelors, I spent 2 years working for art institutions & designers in Beirut, familiarizing myself with the cultural scene. After that, I moved to Eindhoven, The Netherlands to somehow find my own voice & practice, to pursue my Masters in Contextual Design in 2016.
Since then, I’ve been living in the Netherlands, somehow still in Eindhoven. My practice has been focused heavily these days on digital tools & techniques. I also freelance with some designers & architects, and create visual media for various projects.
When did you start making art?
I have early memories of putting a little too much effort in presentation posters for school. I distinctly recall experimenting greatly with cutting & pasting photos from old magazines, on hot pink cardboard….all for a chemistry assignment.
I opened a deviantart account when I was around 11 years old, and started playing around with paint shop pro (the bootleg photoshop of the time), digital collages, photomanipulation, and a digital camera. I would get encouragement and advice from older, professional artists. Which was funny, because I was so young. I also wrote a lot of poetry, essays and short stories actively in school.
"The art-world (...) often poses itself as noble, pensive & intellectual, but it depends so much on money, gate keepers, and is literally a market for tax evasion."
Can you tell us more about your artistic journey to where you are now?
I feel I have known I simply wanted to be an artist all along, but I couldn’t really admit that to myself until a year or two ago.
I dabbled in different techniques and mediums all through my studies, professional work & practice. Architecture wasn’t necessarily an artistic training, but there is an inherent understanding of composition, colour forms and volumes in the discipline, which you could express in model (maquette) or drawings.
Design school was rather broad, I feel I experimented a lot with different techniques, mediums & materials, but I never felt I found my medium, especially a physical one.
I somehow gave up on making consistent works for around a year or two after my graduation, which in retrospect, isn’t all that long, but felt like a lifetime at that moment. I was incredibly frustrated, and I truly couldn’t see the point. The art-world (and I would say design-world, because they are interchangeable in some cases) often poses itself as noble, pensive & intellectual, but it depends so much on money, gate keepers, and is literally a market for tax evasion.
I basically worked for architects & designers, during that time. Learned basic animations, a bit more modelling. Oddly, I was maybe working on projects I didn’t necessarily feel connected to myself (apologies to all my employers), the quiet focus & pensiveness pushed me to start experimenting with digital works once again, especially after having picked up some new software skills.
What is the story behind your artworks?
I think it has a lot to do with feelings of isolation, and somehow just observing your own being habits. There is a feminine energy in the work I do. I tend to use fragments of feminine bodies (or specifically, the archetype of a female body), but it is not necessarily a person. The bodies are also somehow objects, passive to their own isolation.
"I believe in essence I’m a collage artist, regardless of medium or software."
You produce mostly digital art. Can you describe your process and techniques?
I believe in essence I’m a collage artist, regardless of medium or software.
I am always trying to piece together scenes or moments.
I always draw out a sort of scene manually. but I leave a lot of open ended moments.
I use a combination of modelling, illustration & rendering. I wish my process was clean and systematic, but it is incredibly chaotic.
Who are your biggest influences and how do they influence your practice?
Definitely a lot of painters. But I would point out Edward Hopper as a long time favorite.
Fiction & literature. Pop culture. Podcasts. I’m really into escapism and just “exiting” my daily reality, or making it tolerable.
I think that dreaminess is the feeling that drives my work.
Do you have a role-model?
My father. He has a sense of calm that only comes from deep thinking & informed nihilism, as well as old age. He is always telling me not to worry about things you will never be able to control.
If you had all the money in the world, what would you do with it?
Never work a day job again. I see the benefits, but I would prefer to read & work on my art work independently.
I’d make sure my parents and loved ones are taken care of, & give some money to charity regularly.
I would maybe study some more as well.
How do you imagine the future of art?
Niche markets outside traditional relations with galleries, institutions & collectors.
I’ve been an avid podcast listener for years, and I am truly amazed how there is a podcast on every single topic. I don’t see why the same couldn’t be said for artists & art works.
Thank you so much Hala <3