Sherif Monir

An Artist with Multiple Perspectives

Talented artist Sherif Monir’s paintings are known to reconceptualise human experiences through satire and irony, imparting a certain power and vitality to them. Recently, at eniGma’s Covers Reimagined event in June 2021, his brilliant rendition of Asala’s iconic cover demonstrated his unique skill and style and caught everyone’s attention. eniGma’s Farida Elserty got the chance to chat with the young artist about his artistic journey and how he got to where he is today. Find out what lies ahead for him in the fascinating interview ahead.

Let’s start with a brief overview of your education and career.
I graduated with a degree in Painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts at Helwan University in 2018, specialising in human illustration, mainly in portraits and the anatomy of the human body. After graduating, I worked as a graphic designer in advertising for one year. Later, I worked as a visual artist (a retoucher) for almost five years. Currently, I am a freelance creative director. I focus on creative ideas using old-school art rather than digital art.

When did you first realise you wanted to be an artist?
As a child, I always loved art and anything related to it. I always wanted to enter the Faculty of Fine Arts, even though I didn’t know anything about it except that students learnt how to draw there. Throughout my university journey, I studied different kinds of art and was keen to learn about contemporary art, theatre, academic art, etc.

Who is your favourite artist?
That is a tough question to answer. Although I don’t follow the Egyptian art scene so much, I like Yasser Nabaiel and Ibrahim El Desouky. Among international artists, I like Steve Huston, Casey Baugh, and Nick Alm very much.

Do you have other passions besides art?
Honestly, drawing is my favourite hobby and one of the most important things in my life. However, I like all the other types of art that make life more manageable, tolerable, and enjoyable. For example, I love acting, directing, and dancing very much. I participated in theatre at university and that helped me explore the world from multiple perspectives. I think I am a comprehensive artist in every way.

What is the most challenging thing about being an artist?
I think the biggest challenge for an artist nowadays is the presence of technology. In my opinion, technological advancements have had a dangerously negative effect on art and artists by decreasing the value of the art of painting and drawing. The creativity of artists can wither when this happens. I recently decided to use old-school art in advertising campaigns in order to face this challenge. This helped me hone my techniques and unleash my creativity. Art is something sacred and cannot be compared to technology in any way. Besides that, getting out of my comfort zone as an artist is another challenge. Staying in my comfort zone for so long made me miss many growth opportunities and blocked my creativity.

What are the techniques you use to get out of your comfort zone?
In the past, I was trapped in drawing portraits. All my drawings became the same in some way. Over time, I seemed to have forgotten that there were other drawing styles that I had yet to discover and learn. So I decided to learn new art techniques and to practice new styles. I started mixing abstract art with academic art–which is something I had never done before. In the end, artists need to determine the gap in the market and provide what fills it in their own way.

What is your favourite style of painting?
I prefer academic art to modern art. Also, I find it very interesting to use academic art with a modern twist without resorting to cliché ideas.

How is your personality reflected in your work?
Usually, artists’ artwork is based on their characters, personalities, and beliefs. Personally, I am more attracted to black comedy that creates laughter from uncomfortable situations. In my opinion, black comedy art is visual communication, so it needs to have a message. However, the message does not always need to be deep or meaningful.

What is your purpose in creating artwork?
The answer is simple. My main purpose is to leave a good legacy and put a stamp on people’s lives with my art.

What is the process you go through to create an art piece?
I don’t have certain traditions while painting. Nevertheless, I have a unique music playlist and I can’t start any painting without it. I produce the best work when I am having fun; which is why I love to play this playlist in the background while I paint.

How do you define success as an artist?
As I said before, success is about leaving a lasting legacy. There are millions of talented artists, but not all of them are successful. To put it briefly, the secret to being a successful artist is about leaving a good mark in people’s lives. To achieve that, an artist should use all his capabilities to the fullest. As an artist, success is about being intelligent, charismatic, and, most importantly, a hard worker.

How was your experience with the eniGma event?
Truthfully, eniGma’s Covers Reimagined event was cool and challenging. Although the timing was short, everything went very well. It was a great opportunity to be a part of such a unique event with like-minded people who appreciate art.

Are there any types of art that you still want to try?
Happily, I have tried a lot of forms of art throughout my life. However, I still want to explore different types of theatre arts. For example, I want to try mime as a theatrical medium professionally. And I want to participate in a musical performance at the theatre.

What are your plans looking forward?
For the next few months my project is to finish 10 paintings that are to be exhibited in my first solo exhibition. Besides that, I am working on my skills to become a full-time creative director.