Ahmad El-Abi is a self-taught Egyptian Visual Artist who quit a career in medicine as a practicing physician to follow his true passion and devotion in conceptual arts. In less than 5 years of practice, he was able to create his own signature, managing to get his artwork featured in numerous print and online international publications, as well as major art exhibitions in Egypt, UAE, Brazil, and France.
El-Abi was one of the first Egyptians to be featured by Instagram more than once, the most important feature was his project Stuffed hair in 2014. Later on, The Arabic alphabet project that was a part of the Arabic Type Challenge got chosen to be exhibited at Biennale des Photographes du Monde Arabe Contemporain in Paris in 2017.
Alongside his private artistic practice, El-Abi managed to shift his career from medicine to advertising and is currently working at one of the world’s top advertising agencies, Wunderman Thompson Cairo.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
My Mother and cozy nights with people I love. When I started creating art I used to get these messages from people that my work is cheerful and that it always makes them happy, which also made me happy, made me feel that I still can help people even after quitting medicine. Also, nothing makes me happier than food, for sure!
A fun fact to know about me is that I can’t create anything if I am not in a happy state.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
The Funny thing about that is that there were literally no signs in my childhood of my artistic side. Even last year, my mum was telling me that what am doing now is really a surprise for her because when we were young, I was the least interested in art out of my siblings. I was more interested in sports. I discovered that I can have creative ideas when I was 26 when I started to experiment with photography.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
I find inspiration in everyday conversations and situations: in the streets, at the supermarket, walking my dog, etc. I just like to observe people’s routines. Also, watching a lot of movies helps me stay inspired. I used to watch a lot of cartoons when I was a kid and I think it reflects in a way in my artwork. And, yes, obviously, I have a thing for yellow rubber duckies!
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
The Arabic Alphabet: it started with The Arabic Type Challenge, a challenge dedicated to designers. When I was invited to join, I was a little bit hesitant because I am not a designer and in a way not 100% photographer. I am a visual artist who uses the camera to deliver his designs. When I tried to do the first letter and it came out really well, I got excited.
Also my 30 to 40 Birthday Project which I still work on, which consists of posting a picture every year ever since I turned 30 wearing a crown made out of golden sparkling paper.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
Stuffed Hair and also The Arabic Alphabet as mentioned above. The Stuffed Hair project was the turning point in my life and career, especially when it got featured on Instagram and the exposure it gave me. Originally, I started this project when I quit my career in medicine and decided not to cut my hair for a while as an expression of freedom. Then, one day, I started by putting some yellow rubber duckies in my hair, and one thing led to another.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
It is endless!
BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR
Not everyone has it, but everyone will get it. It is easy and innocent in a way and that’s the best thing about it.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
You need to pay more attention. You won’t regret it. We have everything you need 🙂
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
I can’t choose a certain place, but I love the streets of Zamalek for
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
First, you need to have enough of Cairo. Then, there are plenty of places
like Siwa Oasis, Tunis village at Fayoum, Dahab, and Aswan.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
I would say the general stereotype of how an Arab man looks is disturbing.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
That people can always find something to do! Egypt never sleeps.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
Not my strongest area, but the only thing I can say about this that I like when my mother prays for me. I always feel it is coming from her heart, if you know what I mean.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Enough Money to live = Less worry = better mood = better art. At least for me.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
I would say traveling in general and meeting different people, listening to different stories in every place you visit will definitely inspire something. This is how it works for me. Also, I believe that the official Instagram account is a really good tool for inspiration.
This story was published on Ahmad’s birthday, so the Love&LOBBY team wishes him a wonderful day, full of inspiration for his future art. May you entertain everybody with art for more years to come!
Check out his account, here.