Artist of the month Wesam Haddad Brittany Andrews chats with an artist who moves beyond commercial graphic design to change minds and represent Jordan in this 21st century art form.
Where do you start when you begin a new piece? The first step is research. If you get a new LCD, for example (gesturing to the screen opposite us), and you want to turn it on, you need to read the catalogue first. You need to research. Why is research so important? Perhaps you’ll come up with an idea, but someone has had it before. So when I start doing something for a competition I’ll research who I’m competing against. But you also need to keep yourself updated. Many graphic designers – the famous ones – learn from seeing rather than reading. You can find inspiration from anything, but at the same time you need to have it in your mind to say, “Hey, I’ve seen this before” and to do something new instead. Where have you competed? Hong Kong, Calligraphy Slovakia, UK, (Experimental single letters & Japan, Mexico, context) Korea, China, Russia… I’m trying to remember everything. And I’m trying to expand the list. What was the most memorable competition? Well, Japan was 48
memorable because that’s where I won the gold. And people were like, “Who is this guy from Jordan? Where is Jordan anyway?” Plus, it was an open international design competition – industrial, interior, graphic, everything – so I won an award against everyone, not just the graphic designers. After Japan I started to really tell people they can achieve whatever they want, no matter where they come from or who they are. It’s about how ambitious and determined you are – there’s nothing you can’t do. What improvements should be made in the Jordanian graphic design industry? It’s a shame to be the only Jordanian to enter some of these competitions where there are thousands of designers from around the globe. I’ve reached out to young Jordanian designers, providing them with names and websites of famous designers and competitions, telling them to explore, to expand their vision and talent. But I think we still need some time. Okay, maybe we have some talented
Photography and images: Wesam Haddad and Al-Mukhtar Zeyad.
hatting with Wesam, one needn’t look too hard to see how he comes up with his innovative designs - designs that have won him recognition at international competitions and a gold medal in Japan over the past seven years. His mind continuously and smoothly moves from topic to topic, effortlessly finding metaphors while simultaneously jumping to the next idea. His creativity is only paralleled by his passion. No matter the topic, Wesam has a position, which he will argue so zealously that one wonders how anyone could think otherwise. Such a personality – creative, freethinking and active – perfectly suits his career as a graphic designer. But for Wesam, graphic design isn’t simply a career choice, it’s a way through which he can influence others and change lives. Away from his work as creative director at Reflections, a strategic communication company in Jordan and Lebanon, he designs politically, socially, and environmentally focused pieces with which he has participated in competitions from China to Slovakia. Here at home, he visits classrooms around the Kingdom to advise and mentor the next generation of graphic designers, hoping to spread his message of design as art with a message, a way through which one could move the world.
graphic designers, but most just focus on the commercial side. They care about the salary, not the art. What are you doing that’s different? I do work of a commercial nature, but I keep in mind the need to do something for my country. It was nice to put Jordan on the map of graphic design. International designers didn’t use to look at Jordan as competition. What’s the solution? Right now, there is a lack of graphic design competitions in Jordan, which is a problem. We have none. And when we do put on competitions for other fields, we’re just imitating others. It shouldn’t be like this. Let’s say they did a photography competition in Dubai. People would say, let’s do one here.
CULTURE But it shouldn’t be like this. We should take also develop. We need to move into consideration the unique demands we beyond the traditional and have in our country. For example, if we have invent something new. Rules a problem with water, why not use that as a are made to be broken. theme for an exhibition? In the end, it won’t What are your goals for the just be overwhelming artistic visuals, there’ll future of the field? be a message and solutions that could change Designers in Jordan often our future. complain What unique about “Simplicity is the highest perspective obstacles and level of complexity; does Jordan make excuses. have to offer? Many change complexity is the highest Don’t forget their career that we are level of simplicity.” – Wesam’s because in an area they entered philosophy with a lot of through the conflict. This wrong door is something we can change because in – doing commercial projects Jordan we are at peace. So we can explore the and feeling stuck there. But many ways to achieve peace elsewhere. So they don’t have to be. These maybe the next step will be an exhibition to challenges are our strength. show this message of peace: Peace through It’s part of our responsibility, as Graphic Design. But good art needs both good designers, to change stereotypes execution and a strong message. If the visual is and misconceptions, to right badly executed, the message will be lost. If the wrongs. Find a solution, design message is strong but the execution is lousy, something outstanding and you won’t stop the viewer in his tracks. put it up – on a website or on a What makes graphic design a unique poster in the streets. No matter medium through which one can change the medium you use, you can minds? change lives. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. It works because all humans have things in common; it’s called a universal concept. For instance, love is Dr Saed Haddad Music universal – it doesn’t matter Composer Logo whether you’re here or on www.saedhaddad.com the other side of the world. I’ve travelled and met people from all over the planet. I was shocked when I first went to Japan. There were people from all over the world and we could communicate and collaborate together. In addressing universal concepts, graphic design can bring people together. Part of your work involves Arabic calligraphy. What do you find unique about Consume Less, Save More Arabic writing? (A1 poster - offset printing on Typography is a major aspect paper with die cuts) of graphic design. For some countries it is the biggest aspect, like in America. The universities there ask you to submit many examples of typography to apply. They perceive it as more powerful than any other aspect of graphic design because it projects the sensation behind the words. What’s unique about Arabic calligraphy is the many different ways we have of writing and expressing ourselves; we use the type to transform the written word. It expresses what’s behind the letter – a third dimension you can’t see or touch. So I think Arabic calligraphy is important for us to concentrate on, but to
Spring Fling Interactive Spinning Flyer (23 cm diameter - offset printing on paper with die cuts)
Matchsticks Forest Poster (16 x 69 cm - offset printing on paper)
Thorn in Wadi Al Mujib photograph (A3 poster - offset printing on paper) 49