Rebel, creative and energetic, are three words that describe visual artist Ehab Hassouna, who is making his mark with a unique artistic style and a combination of various techniques. Having seen how he creatively synthesizes different art forms and elements, we were delighted to have Hassouna participate in our eniGma Covers Reimagined event last June, where his depictions of Mona Zaki and Naguib Sawiris turned heads and garnered much attention. eniGma’s Farida Elserty caught up with the talented artist to learn more about his unique artistic journey, his passions, and how he got to where he is today. Here are some extracts of the interview.
When did you get into visual arts?
I have loved visual art, design and illustration ever since I was a kid. I used to draw a lot whenever it was possible, and I even drew my own comic books at a young age. I have also always been a fan of Japanese Manga and anime. As I grew up, I became more interested in painting and photography. I find that visual art is the best way to express myself and grasp new concepts.
Can you tell us about your passion for photography?
My passion for photography has always been there. I remember always running around with disposable film cameras as a little kid. For some reason, I always loved shooting landscapes. As a person obsessed with nature, photography is my way to explore the world.
Who are your biggest artistic influences?
Rebel, graffiti and street artists influence my art the most. In other words, all forms of rebellion through art inspire me and are the biggest influence on me, and that’s evident in my artwork.
What inspires you as an artist?
Generally, I love visiting museums and learning about other cultures. As an artist, I love walking around cities like Berlin and watching all the amazing street art there. To be specific, street art, graffiti and urban art are absolutely my favourite types of art. I love artists like Shepard Fairey, Banksy and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who broke societal and traditional barriers through their exceptional art. Thus, I believe that art is not just a piece of artwork, but something that conveys the artist’s emotions and feelings.
What are the techniques you usually use to express yourself and your art?
I don’t believe that artists should have a specific art technique. In truth, one of my mottos in life is that technique is a trap, and that style is a prison for the artist. Thus, I create art based on emotions. It is all about what I am feeling at a specific moment. Nevertheless, digital art and techniques will always be my favourite techniques because I can be free while using them.
Did art help you in other areas of your life?
Absolutely! I have been passionately making art for a long time and art helped me a lot, especially in my personal development. It helped me discover my passions and ideas and helped me communicate them. Art was my only way of expressing my feelings and emotions, and it helped me overcome many negative thoughts in my life. Surprisingly, some of my best artworks were done when I was feeling down or sad. On the other hand, my art helped me enhance my skills and discover what I can accomplish. Honestly, art has always been my only outlet, as well as my haven.
Which art trends inspire your current work?
Currently, I am super inspired by the new trippy wave aesthetic art. I created a visual art space called “Odd Behaviour” to explore different mediums, themes and art genres. The project is mainly a mashup of a bunch of different art styles, cultures, concepts and contexts. This kind of art is inspired by the remix culture that attempts to take multiple perspectives on the same theme.
What is your ideal work environment?
There is no specific working environment that I prefer. For me, the ideal working space is any place that I can be with my laptop. I only need to feel inspired to create art.
Tell us about your experience with the eniGma event?
Honestly, eniGma’s Covers Reimagined event was very interesting. The setup was cool, and the people were super nice. I loved meeting other artists to discuss their pieces and inspirations, and it was nice to be in a place with a lot of people who appreciate art.
What is your own favourite piece of work?
I think my favourite piece is “LADY OF GRACE.” I love it because it resonated with so many people and with other artists. Additionally, that artwork opened a lot of opportunities for me. I even made some friends because of it. Thus, I will always be grateful for this piece.
Who has been the most significant mentor in your journey?
Truthfully, I did not have a specific mentor throughout my artistic journey. I am a self-taught artist, and I learned everything from YouTube, books and online courses. I took a little bit of knowledge from each one and used it in my own way.
What does art mean to you?
This is my favourite question! To me, art is freedom. I love art because I am free to express myself in whichever way I like. It is the only thing that can visually express your feelings without boundaries or guidelines. Happily, digital software made it easier for all artists.
What role does the artist play in society?
I think the artist’s role in society is to boost the voice of humanity. Also, artists should shed light on specific issues by creating art about them. They should amplify human feelings and ideas to connect people to each other.
What are your plans going forward?
Basically, my plan for the next few months is to delve deeply into Web3 and NFTs. I am currently trying to understand what is happening in the new technology because it is really big. Hopefully, I can be an NFT artist soon. Besides, I am launching my website, https://oddbehaviour.shop, nowadays, and I am very excited about it.