Mental Musings about the Amman Street Art Fair [Sept. 23 – 24]

Posted: September 28, 2010 in Comics, Graphic Novels, Manga and Anime, and yeah ... Art!

By Mike V. Derderian

I didn’t study art. I didn’t study design and I most definitely don’t know my way around oil or acrylic paint—but I am loving spray paint!

Not from inside a plastic bag of course!

So I participated in the Amman Street Art Fair that took place on September 23 – 24. Then what? Well for starters I am more motivated than ever, I know what I want, I love experimenting and simplicity.

To all the naysayers—who are everywhere in Amman: East or West—it wasn’t an event held in a street per say but it sure felt street-smart.

I hesitated for about a week before I met the organizers and got a booth.

There I also met an artist that I really admire and have known on Facebook for the past year: Shamekh Al Bluwi; the man knows his lines and colors.

I was mesmerized by Mariam Shanti’s dreamy works and prints and astounded by Randa Haddadin’s architectural perceptions and female personas.

Firas Al Adwan’s black figures that were lurking on backgrounds of white interlaced with black lines haunted me.

There were also some delicious colors and details present in Sandra Hiari’s photographs and prints, Raneem Al Daoud’s photographs and Haig Tchorbadjian’s luminous Dragonfly Decorations.

Jordanian Pop Art and humor related pieces were found in Rana Jeries Muallem’s lovely t-shirts and Dana Qabbani’s greeting cards and postcards.

Being there, surrounded by all these amazing individuals, was simply inspiring.

There I found myself talking to a bunch of kids, who were painting and drawing with Artist Laila Demashqieh part of START initiative, about comics and drawing.

Just so you know this is not a review of the Amman Street Art Fair art and artists, as I was involved as a participant, and that would instantly negate and nullifies any artistic judgment I make as a writer.

This is rather my view of my own participation and how it made me feel as a comic artist and writer.

For starters us, Ammanites, or at least some of us, are definitely lacking in manners and etiquette! What happened to Al Salam 3aleekom (peace be upon you) upon meeting a person? Ya 3ami at least say Mar7aba (hello) and greet us we who sit on those plastic chairs under the sun surrounded by our artwork. We won’t talk you into buying one you know!

Since that’s out of the way, let us resume to how this Homo sapien, who is trying to get a hold of a banana in a world governed by apes, felt like.

I was excited, terrified, filled with adrenaline and happy.

I was able to watch and hear Jordanians and foreigners alike burst into laughter as they read my printed comic strips and eye people pointing at the figure of a disgruntled falcon giving its handler, Mako, the finger.

Talking to people and explaining to them the concept behind The Dark Side of the Spoon, and how its two main protagonist and antagonist, Mako and Me-ouch ended up in Amman was the best part for me.

Many just wanted to know why the title is a play on Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

“When I started this comic it was going to be about two genetically altered animals, who are the victims of genetic and biological tests conducted by LIPS, an infamous cosmetic company. How do they end up in Amman? Wait for the graphic novel prequel! Mako cares about nothing but having food in a spoon. Me-ouch’s concern is not what lies in the spoon but what lies on the dark side of the spoon; bacteria probably … and other stuff!” I told those who bothered to ask.

Well it is still about two genetically altered animals only with more social, sexual and existential undertones.

This interaction with people and the feedback made me realize that I need to publish Mako and Me-ouch’s background story very soon. I’ve been working on the origins story since day one but had to simply launch them into the Jordanian stratosphere before doing so. Only a close circle of friends know the big picture, which is why it is time to do so.

I’ve seen and heard a lot of stuff and words at the Amman Street Art Fair. The experience really opened my eyes to both my faults and my strengths—those I will keep to myself and hopefully you will tell the difference on your own some time later.

These are some of the comments I got during the course of two days:

“I am buying this so I can remember to smile! [a French woman who bought a piece said to me] , “Lovely!” , “Mabrook the new comic strip [someone who didn’t know that The Dark Side of the Spoon has been running in the past 15 issues of U Men Magazine]” , “3endek card baba? [The hulking Ali Maher asked to my utmost surprise] , “Nice! [with a smile]” “Where do they come from? [“from inside my head” I kept answering]” “Can you explain to me what you are trying to say here [not everyone gets it—in fact you can’t get everyone to get it without comprising your integrity, writing and style!]”

There were two negative comments as far as I can remember: “Is he serious! Did he work at all?” and “He can’t draw shit!” Well those were the ones I heard ; )

Needless to say this aspiring writer and comic artist loved being part of this artistic get together.

Did I sell anything? Well, I sold three pieces. The fourth was unsold by a jerk [apologies to the jerk’s girlfriend] that likened one of my pieces to an object coming from an assembly line when his girlfriend, who totally loved it, showed it to him. “Habeebi unsold it [addressing me]. How many pieces you make in a month? A hundred! You must be making a fortune!”

I merely shamed him by saying it is my first time! The jerk didn’t see that coming!

So you see you can’t please everyone and this Homo sapien doesn’t want to. If I cared about people’s opinions Mako and Me-ouch would still be in my head digging a tunnel to China.

I am doing what I love doing. One word of advice: do what “you” want to do and don’t go reading painting and graphic art for dummies.

Art, even comics, graphic novels and writing, is something you experience on your own; not learn.

If you don’t spray paint a board you will never know what will happen to the surface of that bloody board! This Homo sapien now knows : )

Drip drip … art is quite a trip proclaimed a Homo sapien …

  1. Farah Mehdawi says:

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed your experience at Amman Street Art Fair, stop listening to jerks and assholes, just keep going after what you love.

    Your art is unique by itself Mike, and this is just the start 🙂

  2. A very nice read!! I’m sorry I missed this event… but I wish you all the best… and yes… no matter how hard you can think you can teach art… you can’t… what you do is help others say the beginning of their potential thread… =)

    • Dana Qabbani says:

      Mike.. you inspire us all.. your work is amazing and simply unique.. thank you so much for mentioning us in your article and i reallly wish ALL the best,

  3. Sandra says:

    Really enjoyed the read…the way you melt your ideas into a comic and storyboard pot is remarkable.

    The boyfriend may just be jealous he couldn’t leave such an impression on her…u may have stole someone’s thunder. An honour 4 u, a -1 for the GF!

    Yallah looking fwd 4 more

  4. Haig Tchorbadjian says:

    haha.. Mike… i read it with one breath.. you are really good in writing too 🙂

    I’m glad you had a new experience for the first time.. keep doing what you want.. and what you have in mind..

    Much love & respect ~

  5. haitham says:

    Mike, the multi-talented …as I alwAys think of :), really.


  6. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me.

  7. mikevderderian says:

    Thanks Adrian. Sorry for the late reply. I just saw your comment. I am active again and will make sure to update everything on a regular basis. Pleased to meet you.

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