Beauty in the Unseen: an Interview with Samy E. Selim
Posted on 2016 Nov,16

Samy E. Selim comes from a place rich with history and accomplishment. His Egyptian origin eventually saw him moving to Dubai to allow his talent more space. His parents have always been art aficionados and who in turn encouraged him as a child to grow his creativity. For as long as he can remember, he’s always been interested in drawing, which started as a hobby and developed into an intensely-artistic pursuit. Armed with a degree in architect from Cairo University, Samy considers himself lucky to have been exposed, after moving to Dubai, to different cultures, which added a universal touch to his work while keeping it oriental at the core. It’s hard to believe, looking at his creations, that he is only 31, considering the finely crafted, eye-catching works fusing contemporary with traditional sources of inspiration such as poetry and calligraphy. What follows is a snapshot of his brief though impressive career.


Besides design, what are you passionate about and how does it feed into your work?

I am always inspired by traditional works such as poetry and calligraphy. However, experiences and values really affected my artwork, which is easily identifiable by its philosophical nature and structure. The themes I address are fundamental issues connected to reality, existence, values, reason and mind. No wonder I am a believer in the words of Jerzy Kosinski who was quoted saying, “The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” Moreover, I use structured forms in my work, a skill that is necessary in my professional life. I am constantly asked to come up with new concepts for my work. So, this allows me to exercise my inspiration and helps me to continue exploring new areas and techniques. 


If you could describe to us your design style in a few words, what would you say?

My artwork is mostly identified by its philosophical nature and structure, addressing fundamental issues connected to reality, existence, values, reason and mind, though mostly mixing modern vibrancy with traditional elements. My biggest source of inspiration is feeling, body language, and calligraphy.


Could you tell us a little bit about your design process?

Since I first started drawing as a child, my hobby developed from using pencil to charcoal and then to watercolors, pen and ink and eventually to digital art. Digital art is limitless as it combines art and technology, making the creative process much easier. I can draw anywhere and anytime by simply picking up my tablet or smartphone. It is also much less time-consuming compared to traditional art. For instance, I don’t have to clean all my brushes every time I decide to draw. It is all part of our technological revolution.


Do you have a favourite piece in your portfolio? 

My favourite piece is called ‘Lonely’, which also happens to be my first ever-digital artwork, which I produced to express my state of mind and feelings at that specific moment. I felt trapped in a space that is suffocating you, limiting to my abilities and preventing me from expanding my potential. However, the blue colour represented the alienating look people gave me when they saw me fighting back and trying to get out of the place I was trapped in.

Which project or period of your career have you enjoyed the most so far?

The time in my career that I have really enjoyed was the time I worked in an international design studio back in Egypt as a module designer. I was inspired and motivated to touch my artistic side and gained a lot of experience working on a vast range of international projects. All these I owe to my boss, teacher, and friend Yasser Al Quesny.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

Problem solving and creative thinking.


What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?

Human anatomy and postures in addition to experimenting with new techniques and styles. I believe an artist is always in a learning stage, which helps shape and sculpt his/her personality and character.


What would you say is your strongest skill?

Creativity, idea generation, and freehand sketching.


Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

Life itself. 


We’d love to know what’s next for you...

Well, I am currently working on a mosaic like artwork, where each block describes a significant state of mind or situation or feeling that changed my life or at least touched it in a way.