Nurturing Young Artists in the Emirates – Dahlia Mahmoud

Dahlia Mahmoud

DAHLIA MAHMOUD
CREATIVE/ EDUCATOR

 

“As an educator and artist, home is between my students and fellow creative movers and shakers. I transit from dreamer to student to professor to dreamer once again, the creative process continues to captivate me from discovery to creation. The design field in the Middle East has morphed and shifted drastically to allow space for innovation and entrepreneurial thought. It has become a flourishing landscape of new ‘creative economies’.

“In the GCC design thinking and development has moved from its conceptual phase well into its make and experiment phase. It is an exciting time to be here! To be advising and consulting for both government wide executive initiatives and small businesses budding in design classrooms … is all quite magical yet tangible and profitable to experience and support.

 

“Now is the time to focus on small businesses and diversifying the business landscape. There is support for such endeavors; the presence of budding concepts is palpable. While it is important for the public sector to provide leeway and pave paths for this change, it is equally the responsibility of the private sector to help propel small businesses. This means providing varied contracts, not just any contracts but fair and continued commissions to guarantee quality and growth.

 

“Abu Dhabi is hosting a slew of international events, Worldskills, the Special Olympics, and the Louvre is set to open soon. There are numerous arts and culture events right now via NYUAD and Warehouse 421, twofour54 and even right here at the Brandmoxie office space.”

 

 

 

OVERCOMING PERSONAL CHALLENGES

 

“One of the first issues I have encountered coming back to the GCC was the general attitude about the creative field being a professional field. Somehow providing creative services (design, photography, branding etc) was seen as somewhat of a hobby rather than a profession with chargeable hours and quality control. In time that changed and I started seeing more local pop up design firms rather than just the international offices with international staff in the market.

 

“With the onset of the photography fever and art initiatives in the Gulf, anyone with a laptop and photoshop can now design logos for next to nothing and shoot libraries of images without any accountability and understanding. Initially I thought this was a disadvantage and complained avidly about this. Now I actually think this has shown a clear difference in quality and provides more chances for those dedicated and disciplined to shine.  

 

“More of my classes started focusing on industry relations. I am very proud to have instituted education collaboratives and senior exhibitions with the Dubai Design District for the College of Arts at Zayed University along with numerous design projects with the Executive Office of Dubai and the Ministry of Education. The response on the professionalism local students exhibit and the caliber of their training often lead to jobs and support for their future endeavors. It is slow to change the general perception of Art and Design and its importance to all fields. It is never the less starting to happen. Design and Technology is now being implemented to school systems with events and institutions coming up all over the country to promote culture and art.”

 

DAHLIA’S TIPS ON HOW TO GET INTO THE ARTS

  1. Clear your mind. This is such an important and overlooked step. It took me years to figure this one out. Take whatever time needed, be sure of what you are feeling and doing. Move on.
  2. Find your Natural Ability. I am not referring here to talent, I believe that discipline is far more beneficial than raw talent for getting ahead. Find what are you naturally able to do better that what you hope to be doing but be disciplined in developing it.
  3. Hold yourself accountable. Make sure you don’t cut corners. When you do, understand the impact of your decision, take a moment to recover and get back to the drawing board. Plan a better route to get to your destination and follow your own guidelines.
  4. Get into that field. Get in by all means necessary and that usually means free work and a lot of coffee runs. Understand the value of what you are offering and who you are but pay your dues. That doesn’t mean you will be working for little to nothing for long as it is important to state your worth.
  5. Find me… but if you can’t locate me find like-minded people! These people are your chosen family to inspire you to keep moving. I’ve been there; everyone who has tried to follow her or his dreams has been there. It’s tough. Find your support system. Start at home and branch out.

 

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