Dubai: Meet the artist transforming architecture into fantastical digital art

French artist Zak Eazy talks about marrying fantasy with realism in his digital artworks on the emirate


Anamika Chatterjee

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Published: Tue 2 Jul 2024, 4:37 PM

Last updated: Tue 2 Jul 2024, 5:14 PM

As a child growing up in Lille, a city in the north of France, Zakariya Ghodbane, aka Zak Eazy in the art world, had been a precocious child. No surprises there! But Zak’s curiosity led him to imagine the world more creatively. The everyday structures that we don’t even care to gaze at would come alive in his imagination as he put pen and paper to it. “I liked to paint and draw. I remember that I loved drawing on my notebooks at school during class. I drew nature, flowers and lots of manga,” Zak remembers.

It also helped that his father, who dabbled in several careers, taught him to draw when Zak was only three years old. Today, the 28-year-old French artist admits that being in awe of his father’s artistic abilities and drawing, painting and sculpting alongside him helped him push the boundaries of his imagination.

The mundane can be boring. Not if you sprinkle some fantasy into it. As an adult, as Zak took up a fulltime career as a graphic designer he would travel from his hometown to Paris almost every day on train. That is when digital art captured his fancy and a whole new world of possibilities began to take root. “I had been a graphic designer and needed to fuel my creativity away from client briefs and marketing restrictions. I started to create my first artwork in the train during the back and forth between Lille and Paris. I was super glad that I posted it on Instagram. People really liked it and pushed me to create more,” says Zak.

In Zak’s art, structures play an important role. It is not uncommon to find swans around the Aura Skypool in Dubai. Neither is it unfathomable to have Eiffel Tower placed right in the middle of a desert. Zak, who had dreamt of being an architect, creates digital art that marries architecture with nature and infuses it with fantasy. “I love architecture. I find it very impressive and wonderful. So I wanted to create a sort of fantastic history around the buildings of my own town, you know the ones that you pass by every day but don’t really pay much attention to but give them a second life through art,” he says. “I am quite fascinated by nature’s art. As an artist I get inspired a lot by this. I think it's my main inspiration, it’s the base of everything to me.”

It is then easy to assume that it was Zak’s love for architecture that drew him to Dubai when he first visited the city in 2021. But there’s more — a lot more. The artist was taken in by three things that have become synonymous with Dubai — opportunities, modernity and cultural diversity. “Opportunities because the mindset here is completely different; people talk so easily about business, how to help others, give contacts, etc. Modernity because of the architecture, service and futuristic vision. Cultural diversity because I met so many people from different cultures and loved to learn more about them.”

Which is why Zak’s artworks dedicated to Dubai’s landmarks have a special pride of place in his collection of digital art. Imagine swans popping out of Burj Al Arab and dolphins jumping from the Dubai Frame. And because his art is work of imagination, the Dubai landmarks get a fantastical twist. “This is pure photo montage. I start with a picture and mix different images with each other to achieve desired results,” he says. “I spend between 10 and 20 hours per image and eighty per cent of the time I have no idea about the final result. I let my creativity talk for me and let the magic happen. Every artwork has a special meaning, a sort of message.”

There have been many digital artists who have tried to reimagine Dubai. But Zak’s work is a tribute to a kind of serenity he discovered in a city that moves at a fairly fast pace. “The first time I came here was to visit a friend Patrick Pelonero, who had been living here for many years. He had always told me, ‘Come to Dubai, I am sure you will love it’. He was absolutely right. After that, I visited the city 10 times in two years and began to see it more deeply. I began to feel as though I was at home. I found peace and serenity in Dubai as though I knew here was my place,” says Zak.

Zak showcases his works on social media even though he maintains that his aim is not to get carried away by likes and engagement but simply showcasing what the artist in him has to offer. “It’s all about doing something I love. Photoshop is my playground and I started to create for myself and feed my creativity away from my work.”

As for Dubai, he still hopes to make it his home at some point. “Dubai suits me a lot. I like a lot of things here and see lots of opportunities. I would love to show and expand my art there. I want to show the world how I see Dubai through my art,” he says. While Zak has already begun collaborating with a lot of brands in Dubai, he strongly believes it’s just the beginning. “I want to show a side of Dubai that I see and that we don’t see all the time on social media. One that spotlight opportunities for everyone.”


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