LAU student work adorns Beirut billboards
Selected by Art onboard jury, the work of recent graphic design graduates gets displayed across the capital.
The work of recent graduates from LAU’s graphic design program Jad Abou Zeki and Layal Wazzan was showcased on billboards across Beirut throughout September as part of a program initiated by Fondation Saradar.
The initiative, named art onboard, invited students to submit original works of art and design for consideration by a jury of professional designers and academicians. An illustration by current LAU student Mohamad Houhou was also among those initially selected by the eight-person jury but didn’t make it to print for technical reasons.
“Sure, it’s a shame it didn’t make it to print, but I was happy to receive the jury’s praise and to get some feedback from good artists,” says Houhou of the experience. His illustration, titled Vestige, presented an intricate amalgamation of Lebanese landmarks and symbols of identity. “We are constantly told that the Lebanese lack an identity, but I feel as Lebanese as it gets and wanted to illustrate that,” says the young artist of his black and white drawing, which included scenes from Baalbek, Jeita and Downtown Beirut among others.
Chair of the Department of Design Yasmine Taan is delighted to have had three of her students shortlisted by the jury. “Such competitions are of great value in promoting the arts in Lebanon and more specifically the work of students, giving them a launch pad to their careers through experience and promotion,” says Taan, who believes that working to real briefs, deadlines and rewards are an important part of bridging the gap between theory and industry.
“I was very pleased to see Jad’s work among the winning entries as we’re in the process of launching a master’s program in visual narrative at LAU and I felt his graphic stirred discussion about comics at the street level,” added Taan, referring to Abou Zeki’s black and white poster that promoted the characters of his final year project, an interactive digital comic book called “abtal al-shari” (heroes of the street).
“The book presented four characters, each with a superpower, each with their own story. I brought them together in a poster, and when I heard about the art onboard competition I submitted it,” says Abou Zeki, who since graduating has joined an advertising agency in Beirut. “I first saw my poster displayed on a billboard in Sassine and was shocked and surprised and happy. It felt great.”
The most important achievement of the Saradar initiative, says Abou Zeki, is the promotion of Lebanese creativity. “It’s good to show that we have talent in Lebanon. And, yes, it’s also good for my portfolio.”