Michel Azar is a self-described ‘Artoholic’, is a Lebanese working in advertising in KSA. Azar experiments with digital calligraphy and contemporary design by night. Not only is he inspired from books, comics, movies, quotes, but most importantly from his country – Lebanon. “I want people to understand that they should be proud of their roots, being Lebanese by DNA means that you are diversified. Lebanon’s foundations were built on diversity,” said Azar.
FashionRepublik chats with Michel and learns more about his love for Lebanon.
Tell me about you, what you do?
My name is Michel Azar and I’m an Artolholic. I’m also a Batman freak, Jazz Citizen, Action figure and Comic Book collector. During the day I act as a Senior Art Director at Leo Burnett Jedah, KSA bringing smiles on our client’s faces. Thankfully my portfolio includes brands such as McDonald’s, HP, Intel, Afia, Riyad Bank, Goody, LG and many more. By night, I experiment in digital calligraphy and contemporary design in order to bring smiles on people’s faces.
Take us through your design process and what triggered the series?
I was born in Jeddah, and frankly spent half of my life abroad. I get inspired from books, comics, movies, quotes, but most importantly from my society. I always have this nostalgia for my country. I miss my family, my fiancé, my friends, my hometown and adventures.
Most probably, that’s why most of my work includes Lebanon in a way or another. I love my country regardless what others say… That’s why I created “Labnané”.
What does it include?
This nation love has led me to create a self-initiated project called “Labnané”, which means make someone more Lebanese, or attached to Lebanon. It emphasizes on the heritage and beauty of Lebanon using modern minimalism and it includes a series of coasters and plates. Sadly, these days, I’ve seen some schools not allowing students to speak Lebanese during recess and we’re transforming ourselves into a melting pot, influenced by trends and foreign lifestyle. There are even candidates for Miss Lebanon who don’t speak Lebanese, something is wrong! Speaking other languages all the time or living a foreign-like lifestyle does not make us evolved! I want people to understand that they should be proud of their roots, being Lebanese by DNA means that you are diversified. Lebanon’s foundations were built on diversity. Nowadays, people tend to forget that positive side of Lebanon due to persistent political instability and most recently the refugees’ crisis.
How do you represent Lebanon in your work?
Labnané was the trigger to creating other artworks that have a main purpose, which is showing the richness and true image of Lebanon. That is why today, I tend to create calligraphy depicting sayings and quotes from our Lebanese society. I feel like my main mission as an artist is to represent my nation in the best way possible. I even take negative Lebanese connotations and turn it into positive designs.
How would you consider yourself different than others?
If you mean unique by different, well, you feel it when people interact and relate to the work done. Social Media is a platform for people, specially millennials and young generations. They are the judges, and from the way I see it, I touched their hearts.
They say every artist tries to find his voice through his art. Well, I honestly just wait for the echo. You see, it’s that simple smile on people’s faces, it’s priceless!
When I hear those lovely comments whether face to face, via Facebook, WhatsApp, or Instagram direct message, I know I’m standing out in the market!