By Rana Khaled
Drawing isn’t just a hobby for her. Unlike those who keep their memories and thoughts in diaries, Mai Koraeim takes her pencils and drawing books everywhere to document her important daily life’s incidents and events. She draws people she meets, places she visits, buildings she sees and situations she experiences in her daily life. In her blog “Sondok Mai”, she collected together her sketches, stories, dreams, thoughts and feelings in one platform aiming to urge people to discover their buried talents and express what goes inside their minds and souls loudly.
The 35-year old-artist graduated from the painting department at Cairo University’s Faculty of Fine Arts in 2003. She’s been working as an urban sketcher, visual artist, illustrator and comic artist for many years. Some of her artistic works tackle some social issues like sexual harassment or young people’s dreams of travelling abroad, whilst others show old posters for classic films and TV advertisements revived in a creative way.
In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Koraeim talked to us more about her passion for drawing and explained her remarkable understanding of the essence of arts and the main problems they encounter in Egypt. She revealed some secrets about her dreams and her upcoming projects and artistic works.
When did your passion for drawing start? Does it have anything to do with your childhood?
I started being addicted to drawing when I was a little child, as it was always my dream to join the Faculty of Fine Arts and the dream came true. I learned to also play the guitar, but only for a short period of time as I didn’t like music very much, and drawing always came at the top of my priorities. Actually, drawing provides me with everything I need in this life: friendship, meditation, in addition to the passion for knowledge and discovery. For me, arts have been and will always be my greatest obsession in this life!
What’s “Sondok Mai”? And how did the idea to document your daily life incidents by drawing come up to your mind?
Sandok Mai is a blog where I can collect my work and sketches, like those who write their diaries to document their daily life’s incidents, drawing sketches is my way of expressing my opinions, thoughts and feelings about my country, my life, the new people I meet every day, the new cities I visit, and of course it’s a method for describing my beloved hometown, Alexandria. Through drawing, I try to discover a new world and tell people about it, maybe my life isn’t important enough but I use it as a way for urging people to be creative and to write, draw and learn something new through different kinds of arts. I also adopted an idea of redrawing the old posters of our classic films as well as the old ads as I find them a precious visual treasure that most of people don’t appreciate.
What are the main social issues you tackle through your paintings? What are the main messages you tried to convey through them?
In my drawings, I just tell stories about people, places, memories, positive influential figures, behaviours of people…etc. Sometimes, I just want to share my personal experiences with people and sometimes I just want to tell them that there are a lot of places they have to discover, experiences they have to go through and memories they have to recall and record. Life is not just a picture on a mobile phone or a photo on a camera! We must draw its events and incidents and tell them more and more and convey those experiences to the next generations.
What are the main materials and colours you use while painting? What are the procedures every painting takes starting from its idea until it comes out on paper?
The main materials I usually use are ink, pencils, watercolours, ecoline and old magazine papers. I usually draw outside the home. Sometimes, I finish some of the stories and sketches in one session, and at other times I prefer to take some sketches to finish them at my home later on. I usually mix media colours and collage with drawing using old paper. What’s strange about me is that I always keep resets, airplane and public transportation tickets, old magazines and cards when I travel anywhere because I use them later on my drawings.
From your point of view, what distinguishes your work from other people’s work? And how do you work on improving it?
I don’t know. It’s a really hard question as I can’t evaluate my work. All what I know is that I do something innovative that wasn’t done before in Egypt. I’ve never met anyone who records his personal life by drawing but I have to admit that the idea of drawing daily life sketches is widely spread outside Egypt.
Do you see that drawing in general can convey a certain social message to its audiences? And why?
I don’t think that drawing can convey any messages here because most of people in Egypt aren’t interested in the different kinds of arts in general as they waste most of their time on technology and social media. And that’s why I launched my blog to urge people to find their own hobby. In Egypt, people encounter a lot of problems everyday but this must not make them ignore the beauty of arts and its charming influence on their souls and minds.
Do you intend to display your artistic works in an exhibition or something? And do you find drawing as a profitable career in Egypt nowadays?
Actually, I launched many exhibitions and joined a lot of workshops inside and outside Egypt. However, I don’t depend on drawing to earn a living as most of people are more interested in the digital arts than the traditional free hand painting because it’s more profitable!
What are your favourite paintings? And do you have any upcoming projects or plans concerning your work?
I don’t have any favourite paintings because I always try to learn a new thing from each sketch I draw. I hope that one day I’ll be able to collect all my sketches and stories in one book. I hope to be able to travel more outside Egypt to draw more countries and different people and show how their customs, traditions and lifestyles are different from ours and how we can learn some good morals like respecting the laws and retaining the artistic and architect heritage from them but till I achieve all these dreams, I’m just trying to collect my stories in my blog “Sondok Mai”.