Daniel A: Our culture never had an authentic visual identity / In order for our culture to evolve in the visual world it has to accept and encourage its individuals and their beliefs / Taboos, principles and religion have somehow shadowed the right to creation, which should be given to all.
Hassan-Kamel Sabbah: Contributing with Lebanese minds and talents allows us to stand as “different” from other production houses / Some creatives submit to stereotypes and draw by the line.
Brofessional Talks 001: Daniel A. a Lebanese emerging talent
Admin I : So we’re finally having a fresh breeze of creativity, advertising-free, with a Lebanese talent working hard to redefine “Art Direction” as a solid ground for every creative practice. Daniel A and Hassan-Kamel Sabbah joined forces to establish a new creative house, based on their different yet complementary experiences in the visual field.
What intrigued to me to feature Daniel A as a photographer/art director is that i’ve been silently observing this talent, watching its evolution and growth, simply because I’m done going to the extremes defending Lebanese creatives that disappoint me in a very short amount of time. Work becomes redundant, repetitive and “la creme de la creme” sadly become sour. Daniel proved a growing path, a distinctive visual style that play on the fine line between identity and repetition.
We had the chance to interview Daniel and Hassan for our first “Brofessional talk”; enjoy:
- How can you reformulate the concept of “Art direction” in general and associated with photography in particular, since it’s becoming somehow misused and abused by art director wannabes?
- It’s simple: communicating an idea or any desired message through visuals. However, it is misused by wannabes because their focus is purely visual, without a solid conceptual base. I believe that design in all its fields is about finding solutions for the society’s needs. Our culture never had an authentic visual identity that represents the variety and the interesting cultural mix forming our Lebanese scene. Beauty is sometimes wrongly perceived in preconceived images that almost no one questioned nor tried to change for the better.
- Your style stands out as “minimal glamour, the “less is more” of photography” with a dramatic European influence, (correct me if I’m wrong) how did it evolve to reach that stage?
- I certainly agree with the concept of “less is more” that I apply in my work. Whereas for my style, I believe that photography is a subjective matter and rarely an objective one; you can feel drama, passion or luxury, it depends on what I was experiencing during that shoot. What is fun about my job is how each one perceives it; many see my style as dreamy while others see it as romantic. Every person perceives a same photo differently; Art has no boundaries in the end.
I can’t really talk about an evolvement since my journey in photography is still short. When I was in Paris I was doing my masters degree in art direction and then an internship at McCann Erickson for the L’Oreal account where I found my true passion for fashion and luxury. I was extremely influenced by their perception of beauty, how they treated it with simplicity.
One day I decided to practice some of what I gained in Paris, I did the “Goût du vent” and the rest is history.
- Being Lebanese, how can we invest in our culture, taking visual arts, and photography in particular, and what in general intrigues you to shoot or get inspired from, in the Lebanese society?
- In order for our culture to evolve in the visual world it has to accept and encourage its individuals and their beliefs. It has to give them the freedom of being whoever they want to be and experiencing life as is. I believe that every one of us has a great potential with remarkable differences and that we only need to be encouraged. We should always be in harmony with our own convictions and values; this is how true artists are made. Taboos, principles and religion have somehow shadowed the right to creation, which should be given to all. This is why we should embrace our own style while learning from many great influences such as the European ones and creating a unique blend that will be known as “Lebanese”, which will reflect our own personal touch and a piece of our identity. Lebanese photographers can’t find Lebanese references to be inspired from, so why don’t we for instance, start being our own references by doing our own thing, believing in our own capacities then spreading them throughout the world celebrating differences and honoring our common ground.
- I can’t really name one thing that intrigues me to shoot in our society; it’s more like experiencing certain feelings in a certain place at a certain moment that inspires me the most. People I meet can inspire me, their character or their way of being and behaving.
- Being known for your work for Plastik magazine ( BEYOND PRODUCTION ), how are you willing to establish a new production house that stands out as “different” but still can earn the same success that Plastik had?
- After 4 years of experience in Beyond Production, I have learned a lot of things that will allow me to establish a new and unique production house. Opening a new company gives you the chance to create your own vision by showing your creative side and exploring the potential that makes each one of us so special. We are a very ambitious team, with a very promising future perspective, and have a lot of potential that will allow us to implement our creativity in all our work while maintaining high professional standards.
- I believe that everyone has his own identity and in order to succeed one has to stand out from the crowd using all of the tools at hand. I will thus rely on my past experience adding my own personal touch, in all of the jobs that the new production house will be handling, which will allow me to be more free in my choices and decisions in order to successfully deliver the job requested.
- Although the work of Plastik magazine is a totally respected and admirable one, our sources of inspiration are totally different; we mainly get inspired from the place we live in, while working on international standards, adding an exotic touch to our Lebanese projects. We therefore focus on working with great emerging local talents creating a mutual supportive network and that is what makes all of the difference in our company’s work. Contributing with Lebanese minds and talents is thus another thought that portrays our differences, and allows us to stand as “different” from other production houses.
- How do you evaluate the creative scene in Lebanon, talking stereotypes, creativity and cultural interactivity with the mass?
- There is definitely a notable change in the creative scene in Lebanon, although it is subject to scrutiny by the government on some levels. Some creatives submit to stereotypes and draw by the line, in a subtle way when it comes to interacting with the mass. However, I do believe that several individuals are getting out of their comfort zone, creating a change that can be both shocking but effective when it comes to cultural interactivity.
- influence/motto/favorite figures/a crazy thing you say, you do or you feel like doing.
- I’m very influenced by characters I see in the movies (French movies / anime from the 80’s) , furniture , paintings.
- I don’t really have a motto, I prefer life giving me lessons.
- I really like Cyril Collard , Nathan Coley , Hayao Miyazaki , Henri Duparc , indie music also inspires me a lot.
- Since I’m very spontaneous, everything I do is crazy.
Check Daniel and Hassan’s latest project: Blues of Red:A CONTRIBUTION OF 10 EXQUISITE PIECES FROM 10 PROMINENT LEBANESE FASHION DESIGNERS ( Lara Khoury , Krikor Jabotian , Cera Barage , Pavoni , Moe K , Peach and Powder , Pastel Creations , Joanna Laura Constantine , Dina Khalife , U by Hala & Lea ) WITH MAKE UP ARTIST CHRISTIAN ABOU HAIDAR WORKING HIS MAGIC.
Video Directed, Shot & Edited : Ralph Arida
Art Director/Photographer : Daniel A
Production : Hassan-Kamel Sabbah
We’re proud of you guys, and we sincerely hope to see you investing in the local scene, with local designers. Let us for once be ourselves and work on creating what you called the “Lebanese blend”, the single most important gap in our field… You’re a true inspiration for our readers!