Artist Maria Iqbal #Expresses herself with Dubai Font
By David Light
Published: Sat 22 Dec 2018, 11:06 AM
Last updated: Tue 1 Jan 2019, 10:15 AM
DO YOU USE the Dubai Font? The project with Microsoft has seen countless firms take to employing the script, but what if an artist did the same? As part of its #ExpressYou initiative, the people behind the font have teamed up with locally-based artists to produce videos where they share their stories and produce works using the lettering. Maria Iqbal is an Afghan-American artist and designer, born in Kabul but raised in Dubai. Inspirations include pop culture, iconic imagery and humour. From spaces to fashion, Maria can create and transform anything. Her #ExpressYou video came out this week, so we caught up with her. How does it feel to be chosen to be part of the #ExpressYou campaign? I'm flattered to be chosen to illustrate the power of self-expression through Dubai Font's #ExpressYou campaign. It's very validating to an artist when their work is appreciated. My work is bold, in-your-face, expressive and a sign of the times. I paint on clothes, accessories, furniture, walls, basically any surface - almost like bringing an object to life - or at least I aspire to. I truly believe that art lives among us in our daily lives, and not just on our walls or on a canvas - and the Dubai Font, being the new global medium of self-expression, is a powerful tool to share your thoughts, stories and spirit of imagination. What do you think your work says about you and from where do you get your inspiration for new pieces? With the Dubai Font, my initial thought was to create an abaya that reflects my personality - I'm talkative, curious, and bold. I designed the silhouette and chose a white base which provided the perfect backdrop for the expressions I painted on top. The Dubai Font served as a powerful tool to recreate the emotions that I feel, and the words and ideas that inspire me. I would like women to feel empowered when they wear my abaya - the purpose being strong, expressive and feminine. There is no distinction between me and my work - my work embodies my values and what I believe in. You have worked on many campaigns for global brands, what would you say to artists who shun corporate projects? Do you believe a synergy between the creative and corporate worlds is necessary for the creative community to survive? 'Real' artists feeling like sell-outs if they work with corporations is a myth - at least this is what I personally believe. There is a fine line between the arts and commerce industry. We are social media savvy, we work with brands - we elevate them- and do it proudly. I don't think an artist should starve and paint with desperation and pain in their studio to be a true artist. We've taken art out of sterile galleries and into the streets, homes, work, wardrobes and we play a key role in influencing these industries.
What advice would you have for anyone hoping to be an artist in the future? Is there anything you wish you had done differently? I'll say practice, paint, draw, scribble every day. You will get better, develop your own unique style, and realise what kind of an artist you want to be. If you want to make a career out of it, then become business savvy as well - the marketing, the presentation, and the tools you need keep changing. I started out with watercolour, then oils, acrylics, digital, and now even spray paint. Don't get stuck in a rut. Keep learning and innovating. And don't worry too much about criticism or as people say - 'haters'. Art is subjective. The whole world will not love your work. Those who do, will make it worth it. I wish I had not wasted my twenties looking for the magic path when all the time it was staring me right in the face. Don't think of art as an alternative second job. Make it your plan A. Otherwise you'll succumb to plan B. What, in your opinion, makes some art worth millions of dollars and other pieces not? It's luck. There are empty canvases with a dot on them that sell for millions. Being at the right place at the right time. I'm still scratching my head on that one! firstname.lastname@example.org