Lebanese designer and artist Ralph Ghayad is now popular for his unique portraits of iconic legends. Gebran Khalil, Sabah, Princess Diana, Wadih El Safi and even David Bowie are recreated in simple lines bringing the personality of the greats to life and in turn inspire in people a sense of serenity. Here we talk to Ghayad about his brand WAFFF which includes his art, his clothing line and his hopes for the future.
Tell us about yourself.
I am a Lebanese artist born in Beirut in 1986. I’m self-taught and with a passion for creativity, writing, music and design. My signature style is underpinned by an interest in physiognomy, or reading someone’s personality through their facial traits. In 2018, I established the art and clothing brand WAFFF and to tell you what it mean: WAFFF, which means the sound of barking gives a sense of friendliness, spontaneity and boldness just like my personality and art … and it sounds like Ralf, too! I’m also a music producer signed with electronic music labels in the US and UK and the writer of “The Slave of Dreams”.
What does The Legends series mean to you?
My purpose was to create portraits that translate the personality of the figures by using the fewest possible lines. Some of the Legends represent my passion, whether it is in music, writing or painting… While others, were made because of their historical influence. But, for the most part, they are symbols of creativity. I usually draw the figures by thoroughly reading about them and by focusing on the parts that translate their personalities. Like the form and thickness of the eyebrows, the length and width of the forehead, the thickness and form of the lips, and more. If drawn correctly, the structure of the face can instantly trigger a person’s character; whether he is authoritarian, a creative, sensitive, a secret keeper… and that is what I want the illustrations to show.
Who is the first Legend you designed?
I first designed Gibran, since I am big fan of his work and I thought that there is no contemporary artwork that truly brings him to life. Currently they are 40 characters and I am planning to reach 60 by the end of the year.
If you were to hand one of your works to a Legend, whom would it be and why?
I would surely hand it to Gibran, who truly influenced me in several areas in my life.
As complex and iconic they are, you create them in minimal colors and lines, why is that?
The simpler things are the more comprehensive they become. As for art, the simpler it is, the more peace and fulfillment it brings to one’s soul. You can find that the figures are close to Pied Mondrian’s art, Mondrian transformed the architectural world due to the simplicity of his art. Buildings and homes began to take simpler shapes after Mondrian’s art and that created a kind of fulfillment among the people inhabiting them and that is what I want my art to bring.
I want to develop the brand WAFFF by making a fully fledged clothing line that revolves around the Legends. I am currently developing an online store and I will be shipping my products worldwide. There are many more products that are under development as well, and I may do some collaborations in the near future. This would have never happened without the assistance of my sister Sandra and my friend Jules, to whom I am very grateful.