WHAT’S FOR BREAKFAST? JAZZ
Friday is the equivalent of Sunday in the UK – so it’s family day. We have breakfast together as a family and during breakfast we play jazz, which is also very integral part of our day.
MINE AND OURS
My family is from Baghdad, Iraq, but I was born and raised in London, where I spent 28 years of my life. I came to Dubai three years ago because of my wife Reem, who was raised in the UAE, before moving to the UK, where we met. Her job transferred her here and she thought it was a good opportunity for me to explore ‘Myneandyours’ over here – she believed enough in the project to quit our lives in London where I was working as a marketing manager and move everything here.
Skateboarding is what got me interested in art. We grew up skateboarding and all the skateboarding graphics and music inspired me. There was a particular artist called Frank Kozik who created artwork for the band The Offspring for their album Americana. That was the first time I really saw really colourful artwork with really dark undertones, which a lot of my work resonates now – the cloud is a cute-looking character with darker undertones, which sends a kind of dark message but in a very friendly way.
My earliest memory is of me and my brother dancing around the bean bag in our living room to Michael Jackson.
THE CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING
The cloud from MyneandyoUrs is just a cloud, a symbol to provoke thought. Myneandyours is a representation of that and the idea that everything we see around us is ‘ours’ and not the sole property of anyone. Everything out there, it’s ours for the taking. I don’t like the idea that people can control you or force your way of thinking. The idea of Myneandyours is a tool of empowerment telling you that if there’s something you want to do, you can.
A MOVIE THAT MOVED ME
Dumb and Dumber is the greatest movie ever. But on a serious note, V for Vendetta is a very important movie for me. The concepts behind it and the idea they discuss is very important. My favourite book is Alice in Wonderland.
REMEMBER ME AS…
…a badass character. Full of life, full of zest. That’s how I’d like to be remembered, as the coolest dude in town.
RAISE THE ROOF
The mural in D3 was one of my most challenging projects that absolutely destroyed me. It was 18 walls in one project, but the most physically challenging element was painting the ceiling. It was without a doubt the hardest and most painful thing I have ever done. Every metre we would complete, I would question myself as to why I was doing it! It really hurt but the experience was worth every second of the pain.
I’m all about home cooking and my wife is the greatest cook, so anything she makes is a favourite. I try avoid eating out as much as possible but it’s very hard to do. When I do go out, I’m a sucker for a good steak.
SPRAY CANS, T-SHIRTS AND STAINS
Spray-paint cans are the last things I splurged on. All the projects that we do need a lot of materials to be bought. And spray cans are really expensive! I’m not a very materialistic person as such. I’m very basic. But every now and again, I will splurge on 20 of the same kind of T-shirt. That’s also partly because I’ve had to get rid of too many [t-shirts] ruined by paint stains.
COLOUR ME HAPPY
Blue makes me happy, black makes me happy.
It’s inspiring to see artists that I’ve looked up to my entire life come to Dubai to do what they do through Dubai Walls. The public art scene in Dubai has been growing over the past few years and I’m just trying to inject my own spirit into that. [Dubai Walls] is the first time I’ve seen the human form being painted publicly. We needed someone to break the barrier and show people that human form can be done in a beautiful way.
My proudest moment as an artist is probably the first time I got paid for doing what I love.
FREE AND FOR ALL
People mistake me creating murals for vandalism all the time. I guess it’s very subjective how you look at public art. Art in public spaces more powerful than art in galleries because it’s accessible to everyone and there are no barriers to it. It’s powerful and it’s free.
I HAVE DREAMS
Antarctica is a dream holiday – I can’t imagine anything more beautiful than a serene, untouched landscape where I can witness the [southern] lights. Moreover, I like the cold and I find beauty in nature. The last dream I had was about me and the Dubai Walls curator [Jo Brooks] jumping out of a plane the other day.
ERASE PAST ERRORS
If I had a time machine I would probably go back 15 years when I made really stupid decisions and change them all.