I have plenty of memories that contributed to my decision to pursue design. In the 5th grade, I remember my brother showing me how to stylize titles in my notebook (which I still do up to this day, however differently). And I remember designing my own magazine using the colored 3D glasses in the 7th grade. In the 11th grade I was asked to design the spreads for my class in the school yearbook, which I enjoyed so much and was asked to design again the following year. I also ran a blog, and a design forum around the same time. However, I never thought this would be a potential career path or an educational endeavor, until I saw my friend’s sister who was studying design at the time doing a typographic book that had beautiful alphabets — I then knew this is exactly what I wanted to do.
We are a bilingual (Arabic and English) graphic design studio, with a design-led education program. We often address elements of the UAE culture and identity through our design work, whether commercial projects or self-directed research.
I think internships are important opportunities for young creatives starting in their careers. It provides them with an insight into the real world, and allows them to experience the different possibilities and things they can do within their disciplines. Some universities require students to do internships before they graduate, and for me, doing my internship early on was probably the most valuable experience that I got — it really influenced my career path. We do have an internship program at Fikra and have interns working with the creative team.
Yes, I have been teaching for the past 6 years, and am a full-time faculty member of design at the American University of Sharjah. I have also conducted various workshops in different countries. Teaching changes the way you approach and think about your work. It makes you look at your work from a lot of different angles that you wouldn’t have thought were possible. Teachers learn tremendously from students. Each student comes with unique design problems and solutions and it is always inspiring for teachers to take part in the students’ design process.
Graphic design is ever-evolving as a discipline — the tools and mediums are constantly changing. Our work evolves based on the capabilities of the tools. Also, designers nowadays are no longer only using existing tools; as graphic designers, we are creating our own tools in order to make things.
After 12 years of running as a graphic design studio, we have recently expanded into Fikra Campus, a design-led educational platform that comprises a co-working space, design studio, café, gallery and library. We are currently developing cultural programs for Fikra and preparing for the Fikra Graphic Design Biennial which is happening in November 2018.