Better known by his alias, The Art of Boo, Bernard Hage is a Lebanese illustrator and cartoonist, who has been steadily growing a cult following with his insightful illustrations that mix criticism and comedy, taking aim at every social, cultural, and political problem faced by his country. The type of dark humor that startles you with one eye weeping and the other smiling.
To put his creativity to good use, he chose a career in advertising that turned out to be far duller than what he envisioned, so he quit his job in 2012. After , in his words, surviving a profound existential crisis, he hosted his first solo exhibition at Artlab Gallery (Beirut) in 2014, after which he published his first book of illustrated short stories and an original music soundtrack in 2017.
We are happy to welcome him in the Love&LOBBY community.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Ice cream. A smile from a stranger. Train rides. Songs of Leonard Cohen.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
Everything humans do is mostly the product of struggle. We invented clothes because we were cold, and electricity because we were living in the dark, we built houses because we were getting rained on, etc.
It is sometimes said that all great art comes from pain. I personally believe that the creative world owes a great debt to its childhood trauma. And while I can’t really think of any cool childhood stories that announced the creative person I am today; I can definitely think of numerous traumatizing experiences that resulted in shaping my creative mind. But I’ll save those for my therapist.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Berlin. A grand city where you lose your way and find inspiration.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
30 Jahre Mauerfall, definitely!A wall art installation for the German National Day celebration, commissioned by the German Embassy in Beirut to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. I’ve always been deeply interested in German history, especially post WWII. Asking me to work on this project was like asking Tailor Swift to perform a break-up song.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
In the Dead of Night – Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups my first book of illustrated short stories that comes with a music soundtrack.
THE BEST THING ABOUT LEBANESE CREATIVITY IS
Its ability to transform pain and suffering into a joke. Effortlessly.
BEST STATEMENT OF LEBANESE HUMOR
In 2007 and 2008, a series of car bombings struck Beirut. These attacks took place in random locations around the city, sometimes in public places and parking lots. I remember walking down the street and noticing a note on a car that said: “I just bought this car, it’s expensive and I’m still paying its bank installments. Please, don’t place a bomb next to my car.”
I was 19 years old and it was the first time I got properly introduced to Lebanese humor, which can be as dark as a politician’s pocket sometimes.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO LEBANESE CREATIVES
Think of a great project you’ve seen that was produced by a Lebanese talent. Now think that this project was conceived under extremely tough circumstances, like constant power cuts, internet cuts, deadly traffic, limited resources, lack of governmental support, economic crises, political unrest and occasional pop-up wars. What I’m trying to say is that we Lebanese creatives work under really tough circumstances yet deliver outstanding results, despite the inevitable distractions that come our way. We are problem solvers, multitaskers and fully dedicated to bringing an idea to life. With the right support, we can make miracles happen. Aside from turning water into coffee.
BEST PLACE IN BEIRUT
Gemmayze. I went to school in this street. I skipped classes to go eat the best ‘manoushe’ in the city. I protested. I had my first date. I got drunk. I tested my best and worst pick-up lines. I held my first art exhibition. And most importantly, I had, and still have, my favorite meals. This street is the perfect patchwork of our Lebanese social fabric, it’s a great destination whether you were looking for a nice coffee, a delicious meal, a good cocktail, an art exhibition, a handicraft shop, or just for a nice place to stay.
BEST PLACE IN LEBANON
Anywhere in the mountains where you can set a tent and start a campfire.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT LEBANON, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
Corruption. It’s very disturbing because it’s true.
LEBANON SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Its ability to survive in organized chaos.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
I believe that God set the universe in motion as part of a science experiment, then went off to hang and get drunk at a bar, and doesn’t even know that we’re alive. I believe that humans are an upright-walking overwhelmingly intelligent species with deep communication problems. I believe that people should spend more time alone. I believe that if people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, the world would be a much better place. I believe that we are living in a mere interlude between two nothings, and that everything we do is a mere distraction from the inevitable defeat coming our way, and that love is the best distraction of them all, and it makes the whole experience worth it.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Have you ever been in a situation where you really dislike someone but you desperately need them? Frustrating isn’t it?
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Tom Waits’ discography.
A LEBANON BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Coffee Break (Nadyn Chalhoub & Nathalie Masri).
For more details about his work, check out his tragically funny comics on Instagram, here.