Tag Archives: Amman

Eccentricism at its Best

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Throughout my life I have been extremely fortunate to meet some incredibly talented people, but one person seems to jump out from the crowd for me. The best way to describe him and his work is eccentric. Drumming to his own tune, Walid, is known for being opinionated, straightforward, and sharp as a bloody samurai sword. His presence demands your attention and with so much worldly experience, you tend to want to listen to what he has to say.

I met Walid working on the Disney film that was being filmed in Jordan. You could tell he was kind, extremely helpful, and would teach you things if you simply took the time to listen. From there a friendship started that I honestly couldn’t see my life without. I not only got to know his work as a makeup artist, but was fortunate enough to get to interview him for the video I worked on called “Creativity in the Middle East“, and had the pleasure of seeing his work onscreen and off.

Walid was lucky enough to come from a family who appreciated the arts. His late mother took the time to involve him from a young age with music, and art. Having an inquisitive mind, he tended to always ask why and constantly wanted to learn about new and interesting things thus being inspired by all things around him. Walid describes his work as eclectic, weird, classical, varied, schizoid, scary but fun at times, cynical and sarcastic. Always making you wonder, his work seems to have a form of mockery and sarcasm deep within. Just like his personality, Walid’s art tends to be in your face. It demands its own attention as well as respect and you tend to give it such.

When asked what advice he would give to fellow artists he said ” For heaven’s sake do not copy, I have seen too many of these so-called artists who copy copy copy, and then try to pass it off as an original idea, please stop it. It is okay to be inspired by a style (until you settle on your own). Use whatever medium you want whether it be oil, pen & ink, watercolor or PC generated images, DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU THAT IT IS NOT ART! I say to people if Leonardo lived today photoshop would have been his best friend (you do realise that Leonardo never finished a painting). Read, educate yourselves. You are responsible for your own advancement and do not expect the world to treat you nicely, it will not, and society is an unforgiving monster.”

And with all things he does, he leaves us with advice that really makes one think: Do it for yourself and if you want to do it for a profit remember this: An Artist is a member of leisured race that cannot afford their leisures.

Below are a few of his work, actually a lot of his work. I couldn’t pick, so decided to add them all!  You can also check out his page for any other work and to contact him if interested.

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Empty Chair’s New Single is Out!

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A while ago I created a video with the help from a friend, about Creativity in the Middle East. In the video there was a band that I talked to about the challenges they faced being creative in the Middle East and what obstacles they had to overcome to get their music out there. A few days ago Empty Chair released their very first single and I am excited to say that it is quite good! I’ve watched them live a few times, and they have always rocked the audience. Not only by how they played each song, but the interaction they had with each audience member. Always eager to please and take suggestions, be it song suggestions, or constructive criticism. They have worked very hard and it is obvious the love they have for what they do is what drives them to create music that touches peoples souls.

One thing that captures me are the lyrics. What I love about this song is how I can relate to it, and I’m sure most people can as well. It starts out with Kamal singing

“Sitting here alone
In a cold dark room
Wishing you were here
To ease the pain”

Haven’t we all felt this way at least once in our lives? And yes, I am not ashamed to admit it! The loneliness of not having someone there to ease our pain, to make us feel as if everything will be alright in time gets to each one of us.

“It hurts too much
To just sit and stare
At a scattered memory
At an empty chair”

One reason I love the lyrics above is because of the smart way they integrated the name of their band, Empty Chair, into the song, and made it make sense! I fell in love with this song because it hits home for a lot of people. So many people experience the pain they are describing in their lyrics, that it connects us all together. Makes us feel as if we are not alone. The feeling they put into playing their instruments and the way the song is sung makes you feel as though they have experienced  the heart ache, and pain of losing someone and by doing so, they connect with their audience in such a magical way. What better way is there to to relate to your audience but by singing about something you have experienced and what others can relate to.

Empty Chair definitely has a gift. Not only with the way they play their instruments, with passion and intensity, but their lead singer, Kamal Shbeir, sings from his heart, and it doesn’t help that he has a one of a kind, husky voice that captures the women in the audience! They bring something different to Amman, and now that they have released their fist single, I can say that they are stepping up and proving to everyone that they really are made to be stars.

Congratulations Empty Chair, on a single that not only makes a person experience different emotions, from sadness, to hopefulness, but for proving that with hard work, determination, and dedication, anyone can live their dream.

 

Delicate Blues and Some News

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It has been a busy few days! I have been working on different projects at one time, and giving an art class in a village up north, which is an hour and a half from Amman. I got some awesome news that one of my art pieces has been shown on Visual News. It really shocked me to find my piece up with some really incredible pieces of art! The title of the post is “Organized Chaos in Art“, which truly is a lovely way of describing my style. It really made my day! You can click the title and it will direct you to the post. My piece is the black and white piece that is the third one down. It is a 20×30 piece sold as a Christmas present in 2011.

I finished another piece that I want to share with you guys. It’s a piece that has been created using acrylic paint, and inked using a silver paint pen and outlined using a thin black marker. It’s really simply a sketch I created in my sketchbook for another piece I am creating. I started the piece today by painting the back ground and tomorrow, hopefully, will start sketching the piece onto the card-stock.I named this piece “Delicate Blues”. What do you guys think?

I am really proud of how many bodies of work I have been creating lately. Art really does keep me sane!

Dinosaurs & Astronauts

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A few days ago I received a message on Facebook asking me to check out a Facebook page called Dinosaurs & Astronauts, and if I liked what I heard to like the page. I was curious, with a name like that, who wouldn’t want to check out what kind of music it would be! I was pleasantly surprised, not only because of his unique sound, but that he was brave enough to be a Folk Singer / Songwriter in Amman, Jordan of all places. Definitely not most peoples style in this country.

Dinosaurs & Astronauts is the stage name of Nabil Awad Gonzalez who is based in Amman, Jordan. His act consists mostly of playing the guitar, or banjo while singing, and occasionally using the harmonica and ukulele. Playing shows around Amman, his main goal is to spread his music around the world and gain bigger crowds not only globally but locally as well. On December 2011, Dinosaurs & Astronauts released his first debut single “Noble Beast” which was studio recorded. He self recorded his second single “Seesaw” due to difficulties, but is keeping his hopes up that by the end of this year, the rest of the album will be out!

Check him out and follow! Local talent always has a spirit to them that carries on through their work.

You can follow him on Twitter, here!

Inspiration Overdose

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I was living in Amman, Jordan, for a year without as much as touching a paint brush or sketchbook. I couldn’t find any inspiration, and any one who loved art and design as much as I did. Then, I met Ahmad. This isn’t only a blog entry about him, but also about how without him, I truly wouldn’t be where I am today.

I went to take a short course at SAE Institute, Amman and asked to speak with the head of the department to see what sort of short course I was getting myself into. Along walked in Ahmad, and you could see the excitement that I had for the creative world on his face. Everything was history by then.

Ahmad Qatato is a Jordanian graphic artist  who has worked in different fields in Jordan, UAE, ad Oman for the past 11 years. He graduated from Yarmouk University with a Bachelors in accounting but sought a career in 2D animation as a part time job while in college. By then, he was hooked and moved on and launched himself into other prospects: multimedia, advertising, publishing and teaching. At the moment, Ahmad is the Art Director at Beladcom Gaming Studio in Amman, where he oversees the development of the first MMO game to be produced in the region on an international scale.

Qatato is also a published cartoonist, his mini series “Mission:Moon” besides other panels, were published in an independent Lebanese comic magazine “Samandal”. He was also awarded for his work with a community web TV portal, Ikbis, and Deutsche Welle TV.

“Every moving force is inspiring by itself, any media is a force, so to speak”. When you put Qatato and I together there is never a dull moment. We speak about music, films, art work, or anything we observe around us. He finds inspiration from the simple things in life, from watching the expressions on peoples faces in a crowded cafe, to a graphic novel he had just found. His main source of inspiration comes from the underground subculture, such as European films, underground music, comic books and graphic novels.

When you look at his work, and then ask him what his message is, its clear. He’s trying to keep the innocence within each one of us alive. We tend to get boggled down with everyday stresses that we forget to see the simple, beautiful things in life, and that is where Ahmad comes in. He finds his medium to be powerful. People tend to relate and attach instantly to a “picture” than written words. He tries to challenge the viewer for an emotional and intellectual response, and communicates a certain style that not only challenges an audience but himself in the process.

Ahmad has always preached what he practices. Don’t make what others say who you are. Find your own character, personality and individuality. Keep the child within always alive, and never become that bitter cynical version of yourself. Ive always asked him how he keeps doing what he does, how he constantly has a pen and sketchbook in hand, and is constantly generating work like he never sleeps. He always smiles at me and says “keep learning, constantly generate work, even if you don’t think its good, and stay humble”.

Through the years, Ahmad has not only been my teacher, but a very close friend, an inspiration, a confidant, and someone I respect dearly for his professional and personal opinion. I thank you Ahmad, for keeping me moving throughout the years, and always encouraging me to keep moving on, when all I wanted to do was give up. You are a true inspiration and one of a kind, and I adore you for it.

A few of his incredible works are posted below, but to be completely and utterly amazed at the capacity of his talent, go to  http://ahmadqatato.com/ , trust me.

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Update!

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Sorry its taken me so long to update the project. Its been insane trying to keep track of all the sketchbooks that are going around and make sure everyone has it for 3 days and doesnt take longer. Has there been any bumps in the road? Of course, as any project would have. I am proud to say that people have really been very excited in the whole concept, and are willing to do what it takes to keep the sketchbooks moving and alive.

Im happy to say that two sketchbooks are in the States right now. One just got passed to someone in Illinois, and the other is traveling to reach a girl who has been waiting patiently by for it. The one in Amman just got passed to a man whose daughters are super excited to be part of the project, while others wait in line for it to move to them. I am sorry its been taking a while, but the whole idea of the project is to get it from someone who has had it, it makes the sketchbook feel like it has a soul.

I have been contacted by a sweet girl in Dubai who wants to work on one right away! She offered to purchase a sketchbook, get others involved, get it filled and to send it back! Im so excited that people are really getting into it! If you would like to start right away, then by all means contact me at travelingthoughtsproject@gmail.com and I can send you the information. When its finished, just mail it to me!

Below are some images of people who have been involved in the project! Please send me pictures of you guys with the sketchbook, I would love to show the world where the sketchbook is and where its going! Thank you!

I know its taking forever to reach some of you guys, but please have some patience, Im still trying to figure out a way to get it to people quicker! If you would like to start, feel free to contact me and we can discuss a way of getting you working on one soon! The project is coming along, slowly, but it is traveling!

Sketchbook is in the US of A

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Traveling Thoughts is finally in the US of A! It has been delivered to the 3rd person in Oxford, Mississippi, who will work on it for 3 days, hand it to his girlfriend and a few friends and then ship it to some friends of mine in Starville, Mississippi. I have uploaded a map on the Facebook Fan Page (www.travelingthoughts.org) so people can track the sketchbook and see how long it will take to get to them!

The sketchbook is on its way to people who have been friends of mine for years, family members, and even strangers and I feel so connected to each one of them. I can only imagine the feeling I will have going through the sketchbook and seeing such amazing work in every page! If you are still interested in being part of the project, then please contact me! There will be another sketchbook shipped out from Amman, Jordan next week and will start in Hawaii and move to Florida, Arizona, California and through Canada!

Looking forward to this! Thank you all for your amazing support! <3
Click the link below =)

Traveling Thoughts Project