Anwaar Mohammad is a multimedia artist residing in Irbid, Jordan. She splits her creative time between illustrations, photography, collages, book cover designs, and even a visual diary compiled into a zine. With a recent batch of minimalistic illustrations, Mohammad has been showcasing surreal women, gothic women, punk women, confident women, badass women. It's a terrific series, with many more to come, which I found out while speaking with the visual artist about her craft, her geography, and what she has planned down the road.
How has 2018 been treating you?
It started with big wishes and it has a bit of ups and downs for me, but it's going great so far.
I found your art through Behance and noticed multiple styles of art (collages, sketches, etc.). Do you also do photography?
I like to see things through different lenses so I try various mediums and tools to execute my work whether it is conceptual or passing by the whole process of artwork. I photograph with my mobile to document spontaneous moments like the photos I take when we drive to the city. I also have some problems in remembering things, moments, details, or thoughts, especially which are related to me and my surroundings, so sometimes I just write them down as imagery content to use it later.
How do you approach a blank canvas?
Let's talk about blank surfaces. Generally since most of my works are digital, I open a blank sheet on my laptop, or in a sketchbook an get silent for a few moments; they are dense and heavy. Sometimes I don't know how to start a new work. I suffer to start something new but I do it anyway. It doesn't succeed every time but I know what the next step is going to be.
I have never used canvas and the largest thing I ever used to draw on or make a collage or a journal is A4. Large size surfaces scare me and make me feel anxious and confused.
The process takes more than the act of creating itself; it is a demanding matter of producing a mature and complete work regardless of the idea. It is a kind of relation; the more you give the more you take and know. It doesn't go right all of the time, because you reached some dead ends where you should turn back and try something else or another technique, or try another starting point.
What are you currently working on?
Lately I have been working on a project I started a year ago, which is concerned with women, their own struggles and interactions with their circumstances. On the other hand, I am doing visual studies and experiments that aim primarily to deal with the creation of a story and connect its details in a way to be more interesting for those who read it.
What is the art scene/culture like in Irbid?
Irbid is a city where I live nearby. Honestly, I am a little far away from the art scene in Irbid but generally it has flourished. It is a city that considers art as an essential element to build cultural identity and have a various range of art forms and it prepares appropriate spaces and exhibitions for art activities and cultural events that a lot of youth work on.
Do you feel like location/culture directly influences your art?
The place where i live plays a huge role in orienting me and my art. People in my village are very conservative, they spend a good amount of time watching each other and gossiping. This has affected our way of living, and limited the freedom of acting without being judged, but it has given me a better understanding on how to relate my work with my own experiences and to reproduce my people's culture in an artistic way, since the art scene in my village barely exists.
Outside of your own art, what have you been enjoying recently?
I have been reading poetry for Arab and non Arab poets: Wadih Sa'adeh, Sargon Bolus, Charles Bukowski, and Pablo Neruda. I am fascinated by Neruda's poem "Walking Around." After watching a couple of interviews with Bukowski i have discovered some similarities between him and Wadih Sa'adeh; their faces and their ways of talking .
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
At some point in time, I thought that I should do what people do in the same way they do their things, so they can value my artwork and relate to it more, but this was not satisfying nor did it make me feel better. I am entirely convinced of doing what comforts me.
Art seems like anything else; it is a matter of time to get used to certain forms of art and what we need to do is to try over and satisfy ourselves by choosing what really looks like us and what we really want to use and express .
Do you have any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
Observe the process and observe yourself through it if you really want to learn. It is not about the final product; at least for me, process is a significant thing that should be taken in mind while making art. It gives us more than what any final product can do. The process is fruitful regardless of whether we accept the result or not, because it is the stage where we cook our knowledge and examine ourselves and where understanding and questioning are shaped.