Weekend Five: Travel Around the World with Funkpix

Lebanese photographer Charles Awad travels the world. No ordinary tourist, Awad is making a name for himself by capturing the very soul of the cities he visits. By taking time to explore the streets of each city she travels to, Awad uncovers rare gems, graffiti, art, posters, pictures and more that offer a snapshot into life in some the world’s most exciting destinations. Funkpix is Awad’s way of offering a global audience a little funk-infused insight into street art, design and style in a way that encourages exploration, discovery and more than a little fun.

Tell us about yourself.

I am Lebanese living in Geneva, Switzerland. I have lived in many places after I left Beirut at the age of 10 … Paris, New York, London and now Geneva. I am a serial global traveller, with a passion for funky people, places, and urban art. I love contemporary art and have been regularly attending fairs like Art Basel, Miami or Hong Kong, meeting some of the coolest artists there. In my most recent job, I led Global Marketing and Innovation for Davidoff Cigars. My main hobby is photography …but also running marathons and cooking meals for friends …

How would you define your art?

Funky Urban Street Art. I take most of my shots while jogging in cities around the world, sometimes as early as 5:30 am! I am hugely inspired by the various forms of human expression I find on city walls – graffiti, posters, stickers, tags …

What was the first piece?

Brigitte Bardot. A French icon I grew up with while in France… I decided to “ Funkpix” her some 25 years ago … I was always mesmerized by her raw beauty and effortless and natural charm.

What attracts your eye when strolling the streets around the world?

I have been jogging with my camera in all the cities I have travelled to in the past 30 years. I hunt for shots while jogging in places like Havana, Soweto, Manhattan, Santiago, London’s East End or Beirut … My eye is constantly caught by messages on city walls, worn out posters that make beautiful collages, stickers on lamp posts with provocative messages and colorful, expressive people I meet and chat with while on my jogs…

Take us through your creative process.

Once I take the shot, I imagine how this shot could morph into a more vibrant and expressive shot – become a true Funkpix. I add some elements to the picture, strip some elements that I find distracting from the main idea, clean up the shot from any noise and sometimes create layers using photo editing software. I call this process “Funkpixing”, adding my personal twist to these raw photos I have taken.

When you compare shots taken here in Lebanon and abroad, is there a difference? Tell us what you see.

When I am in Beirut, I am filled with nostalgia and wonder. Lebanon for me is dynamic, full of surprises and ever changing … when in Beirut I am in awe when I jog the streets of Basta in the early morning, discovering the stunning beauty of Gemmayze and its old Beiruti homes… I also meet some of the kindest and coolest people around, people who make me feel so welcome. When taking my shots, people are curious and ask me why I am taking them. When I tell them I share these shots with the world through Funkpix, they are excited to be featured in my work.

What are you working on now ?

I have now a bit of time ahead of me to focus on Funkpix and connect with artists and people across the globe to make them discover my work. I am making a push on social media with my Facebook Page as well as the @funkpix Instagram account. I will be heading to Barcelona next week – a funky city that I love and that reminds me so much of Beirut. You will find me sitting in one of Barceloneta’s cool Xiringitos to work on the next release of Funkpix photos.

Where can people buy your work?

I feature most of my work in galleries on my site  www.funkpix.pixels.com. The site is hosted on a global arts platform managed by FineArtAmerica. They deliver top quality prints in a number of forms – from canvas to acrylic and metal prints in all sizes – and interestingly, the customer is also able to order items such as phone cases, beach towels and even pillows that feature Funkpix designs. With this site, I am able to reach a global audience in Beirut, New York, London, Paris, Beijing or Cape Town…

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