I stole two things in my life… and it wasn’t candy

The postcard from another planet

I was probably 5. During a cold winter, my mother took me to a small bookstore. As she was busy looking for a book, I was drooling in front of a postcard. It was a laser-cut postcard printed on white textured paper. “Feliz año nuevo” was written with a script typeface. The gold foil looked like an alien invention. Yes. I fell in love with a postcard. Right there. In a tiny bookstore in Tangier. I asked my mom if I could have it. She said no. According to her, it was of no use to me. Fuck. I didn’t argue. I knew it would be a lost cause. As she was paying her book, I took the card and put it under my sweater. There was no fucking way I’d leave something that excited me more than ice cream when I was 2. We left the bookstore.

My mom noticed I was walking like a zombie. The card had sharp corners that tickled my belly. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. She asked me to stop right away and found out about the card.We came back to the bookstore and apologized to its owner. She was all red, ashamed that her daughter could do such a stupid thing. I remember she gave me a roasting, but I wasn’t paying attention. I was thinking about the postcard that certainly came from another planet.


The pistachio green and smelly paper
Around the same age, I was hanging out in my brother’s room. He had so many things in his room. Curious, I opened one of his drawers. I found this pistachio green and smelly paper. It had a head, the number 50, a castle, flowers and horses printed on it. I liked it. I thought it would be perfect for my next drawing. I went to my room, took a black marker, and awkwardly redrawn every single line. I could hear some screaming coming from downstairs. I put down my marker. My brother was walking furiously towards his room, followed by my mom and dad. He opened his drawer: “my 50 DH were here; someone stole them!” I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t quite realize he was talking about that pistachio green and smelly paper. It was like a new Ionesco play. They were looking everywhere for my brother’s money so he could stop freaking out.

At some point, my mom went into my room, and found the 50 DH on my desk… or, at least, what was left of it. Fuck. She gave my artwork to my brother! He put it in his drawer and closed it. I could see fire in his eyes. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. My dad put hot pepper in my mouth for stealing my brother’s pistachio green and smelly paper + drawing on it + not saying anything. My mom gave me ice cream behind my dad’s back. Thanks mom. This shit was burning my tongue.

I didn’t steal anything anymore.

I didn’t know graphic design was graphic design

In Morocco, a graphic designer is an unthinking technician behind an old computer. A 2-year certificate is enough to be called a graphic designer. If one wasn’t really good enough at school, this was the perfect hideout. After graduating, graphic designers spend their days drinking coffee in sketchy coffee shops and making awful brochures in the back of a small printing shop. If they are lucky enough, they will end up in a studio to execute ideas until they die. They are usually bitter, monotone, and smell like a cold ashtray.


My parents are doctors. My dad is one of the best gynecologists in Tangier, a respected and avant-garde intellectual who leads conferences and has done many humanitarian missions. My mother is a caring, strong pediatrician. She gave more than twenty years of her life to volunteer for the abandoned children. She is the kind of woman who would sleep on a dirty floor of a hospital to save a life. Both of them have always wanted me to have a brilliant career, like any other parent I suppose, and to follow in their footsteps. Going into the arts wasn’t part of it, for it has almost no value in the society where I grew up. Art, in Morocco, is for the vulgar, for the feckless, for the dropouts, for the kids who couldn’t do any better. Plus, they didn’t want me to be bitter, monotone, and smell like a cold ashtray.

When I was little, after finishing my homework, bedtime came too quickly. But I found what I thought was a wild trick. Every night, with a quickened heartbeat and clammy hands, I jumped over my bed, ran into the bathroom, and locked myself in it. I found freedom within those four white walls, beneath the hum of a bright, aggressive halogen light. I painted on the floor of my bathroom during my entire childhood to save my Brobdingnagian imagination (clearly, I had been reading far too much Jonathan Swift and, at the time, was obsessed with anything Lilliputian, drawing tiny creatures in a tinier land) until my mother came to interrupt the sparkle in my eyes. She knew then that I would never want to be a doctor and her hopes, however feint, were dashed. I left behind my parents, and their ideals, as I grew up and imagined myself becoming an artist. Chuck Close thought we “should slowly do what we want instead of going directly to it.” So I had to go to a business school because my mother made me choose between “a blessing or a curse.” Her words, not mine.

A curse? What does that even mean? Studying art would make me evil? Will that curse make me bitter, monotone, and smell like a cold ashtray?

However, there was a bit of a silver lining. For being an excellent student, my dad offered me my first easel. I could now stop painting on the floor of a bathroom. Twenty years later, I had finished my B.A., my mother’s so-called “blessing,” and was working as a copywriter for the leading advertising agency in Morocco. It was late at night, maybe 2 a.m. A last minute brief. As usual. During that brainstorming session, I was drawing to help my brain focus and stay productive. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge said: “painting is the intermediate somewhat between a thought and a thing.” Suddenly, a brutal silence made me stop my process of finding the big idea. I raised my head, and saw my art director staring at me.

He said: “you’re the only one here who has this.”

Me: “this?”

“This” was something that he couldn’t name. He simply gazed at my drawing. I understood he was talking about my lifelong passion for the arts. At that moment, I knew I had to do everything to pursue what my heart was always striving for: going into the arts. Because I had “this”, my art director allowed me to discover the magical world of Adobe Suite.

“This is graphic design? Oh boy!”

I had an epiphany. This was it! This was what I should be doing everyday!

I installed the Suite in my MacBook, and learned the basics. I had no idea where I was going with this, but my drive was becoming stronger and stronger. I left the agency and free-lanced during two years. My objective was to work on art projects only. I still did copywriting, but started designing small stuff for small clients, experimented different techniques, and did few exhibitions. I was living in a bubble.

Then, life happened. I left my ex husband. In Morocco, getting a divorce comes along with a heavy judgments, rumors, speculations and multiple betrayals. Hell has decided to stay longer in my life; certainly because I had to start over from Degree 0 as Barthes would think. Something must break down in all of us. Well, sure did.  I was the lucky protagonist of all the little conversations since I dared to hope for better days. Tired of everything, I travelled for 5 months. When I came back, I needed a new beginning. A structure. Something that could keep me overbusy. Something like… the agency life!

I wanted to do more than a copywriter’s job, even if my title was copywriter. So, I designed prints, illustrated storyboards, and edited videos. My boss used to call me a concept provider. I was neither a copywriter, nor an art director. I was a creative. Honestly, the only good thing I did as a creative was Flawlessness, a campaign against domestic violence. It’s really hard to sell the big idea in Morocco for 3 main reasons:

  1. Clients think their audience is stupid.
  2. Too many voices are giving their fucking opinion.
  3. Agencies don’t know how to say no.

As I didn’t have fun doing shit everyday, I had to leave Morocco for my own sanity. I decided to go back to school. I started my MFA in Graphic Design. History repeats itself.

“This is graphic design? Oh boy!”

First semester: I enrolled in a typography class with Jarred Elrod, a really fucking talented designer. This class blew my mind. I learned to break a grid. I learned the difference between Helvetica and Univers. I learned to animate a logo. I learned to use thread and a needle to put together a saddle-stitch magazine. I learned that screen-printing makes me happy. I learned that letterpress feels like heaven. I learned that graphic design isn’t limited to a computer. Paula Scher became my favorite designer. And I met my hero.

Now, I teach undergrads that graphic design is good storytelling while I’m continually learning what graphic design means. And you’ll be happy to know that none of my student is bitter, monotone, and smells like a cold ashtray.

Les voeux d’une vraie connasse

Il y a quatre ans, ma descente aux enfers avait commencé parce que je ne me faisais pas confiance. Je ne faisais pas confiance à mon intuition. Je ne m’écoutais pas. Je me mentais à moi-même et donc aux autres. Le mensonge nous coupe de ce que nous sommes et de la réalité tandis que la vérité nous y connecte. Nous avons besoin de vérité comme nous avons besoin d’eau pour vivre.


Nos croyances font notre réalité. Elles conditionnent nos actions, attitudes, sentiments et rêves. Et bon nombre de croyances qu’on a sont irrationnelles. Au Maroc, on grandi dans la cave de Platon et c’est vraiment dur de sortir vers la lumière. On se retrouve vite pointé du doigt. On se retrouve vite le protagoniste des petites conversations. On se retrouve vite jugé à tord et travers. Ce chemin vers la lumière brûle mais il en vaut tellement la peine. En tant qu’être humain, notre dignité consiste en la pensée. Le procès de Socrate est une leçon de dignité. Parce qu’il dérangeait, il a été condamné à mort. Sa vie aurait pu être épargnée s’il arrêtait de penser publiquement. Selon lui, c’était ça la véritable mort.

C’est comme ça que je me suis sentie. Morte d’avoir fait des choix sans écouter qui je suis… sous prétexte que ce que je suis réellement ne convient pas à la société. Nietzsche a raison. En dessous de chaque masque, nous en avons un autre. Nous en avons un pour chaque contexte et occasion. J’en ai confectionné des tonnes. Un peu comme au théâtre. Je me souviens de moi descendre en jellaba à Derb Omar parler à des grossistes avec une darija crue. Je me souviens de moi assise dans un salon à prétendre que j’avais quelque chose en commun avec les gens en face de moi. Je me souviens de moi discuter du vide dans des soirées mondaines. Je me souviens de moi chercher l’approbation de RH incultes. Bla bla bla. Sauf qu’à force de porter des masques, mon vrai visage s’effaçait. Je n’avais plus aucune dignité. J’avais juste au fond de moi un profond malaise qui me donnait la nausée de tout et tout le monde.

«Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous than those of the body» – Cicero.

La violence de multiples échecs dans ma vie m’ont réveillée. J’ai réalisé que ces échecs sont la conséquence directe de refuser d’être Moi pour plaire aux bourreaux d’en face. Je me suis dit que mon temps est précieux et mon énergie est limitée dans cette vie. Je me suis dit que je me dois d’être Moi pour m’accomplir pleinement.

Les bruits de couloirs disaient que j’avais vraiment changé. Forcément. Sans aucune surprise, on m’a appelé difficile, froide, hautaine, ridicule, pute, grosse pute, grosse putain de pute, irréaliste, folle, pourrie gâtée, désagréable, horrible, détestable, Satan, terrifiante, trois fois rien, trois fois trois fois rien, trois fois trois fois trois fois rien, condescendante, monstre, arrogante, cruelle, merde, ignoble – une vraie connasse quoi. Coupable, je suis. Soit. Mais je n’ai pas essayé de remettre ces masques en papier. Ma dignité était en jeu et la vie en était le juge.

Depuis que je suis Moi, je me sens libre. Tout ce que je fais à un sens qui participe à la concrétisation de Mes rêves et non ce que la société aurait voulu de moi. Tant pis si mon Moi ne rentre pas dans le moule. Ce moule servira à de la gelée verte. J’ai choisi de m’entourer que des bonnes personnes, fermer la porte à celles qui ne me correspondaient pas et laisser partir celles qui en avaient envie sans difficulté. Tous les jours ne sont pas roses, mais au moins, je suis pleine de vie. Pour cette nouvelle année, je vous souhaite d’être vous même et, donc, d’être digne.

Je vous souhaite de remettre en question vos croyances. Je vous souhaite de ne pas suivre de fausses croyances. Je vous souhaite d’écouter la vie et non l’obscurité de la cave. Je vous souhaite de croire à la Lumière. Je vous souhaite de jeter tous vos masques. Je vous souhaite de vous trouver si ce n’est pas déjà fait. Je vous souhaite de vous faire confiance. Je vous souhaite de poursuivre le savoir et non les pacotilles. Je vous souhaite de développer vos talents. Je vous souhaite de vous accomplir. Je vous souhaite d’être heureux. Je vous souhaite d’être vrai.

Peu importe à quel point ça paraît fou de poursuivre un chemin incertain, la vérité est l’unique source du bonheur. Elle est ce merveilleux chemin incertain. Elle est en chacun de nous. Poursuivez-là. Et pour finir, je cite une phrase juste de Montaigne : «notre glorieux et grand chef d’œuvre c’est de vivre à propos.»

Bonne année à tous. De la part d’une vraie connasse, à l’autre bout du monde, qui vit pleinement. (Il était grand temps!)

We are stuck in the middle ages, and we are going backwards. 

Regardless of the global advancement on women rights and empowerment, in Arab countries, “violence against women is perpetrated by men, silenced by customs, and passed on from one generation to the next” thinks Eid. And he thought right. The rise in Islamic conservatism, under Islamic regimes, is only making it worse. 


As a Moroccan citizen, violence against women is normalized, unbearable, and part of any woman’s everyday life; myself included when I lived there. Believe me, it’s pretty horrible to be grabbed and touched by 7 guys at the same time, during day time, while I only had a 5 min walk to school. What was I supposed to do? As they were laughing, I was petrified, and could never talk about it. Because I knew that seeking concrete legal protection was a waste of time, I did nothing. There are no laws that protect women from sexual harassment in Morocco up to now. The oh-so-great law that’s all over the news like an Eureka invention only protects women in their workplace… but we all know how paying off a judge can be easy. No, I wasn’t wearing a skirt, as our great “Minister for Women and Family Affairs” would suggest. And I’m not a case in a billion.

Women are frequently subjected to insults, derogatory remarks and other sexist attacks in public. You are called a “whore” as long as you breathe in Morocco, no matter what you do. Arab countries are following the Sharia law and the constitutional one, making laws nearly impossible to change. Everything would be a subject of a religious scandal. How ironic…

Are we so much of a threat to Arab men that they need God to justify their outrageous laws?

Public violence limits women’s freedom – essentially the freedom to get a proper education or go to work. Should I recall how many women cannot even feel safe inside what they call home? 6 out of 10 women are victims of domestic violence. Did you know that shelters are illegal because the law prevents a woman to spend the night outside her house when she’s married, no matter what happens? Did you know that the law does not protect a woman raped by her husband? Did you know that a guy has the right to beat his wife if she does not have sex with him, after asking her 3 consecutive times? Did you know that if a rapist asks his victim to marry him, he wouldn’t be prosecuted? Recently the law was amended after Amina Filali committed suicide; now a rapist has to make sure his victim is over 18. Did you know that psychological violence does not exist? Should I mention how many women are killed because their parents found no blood on her wedding night sheets? And those who you couldn’t get married without a virginity certificate signed by a legal physician? Now, if you are a woman and you’re gay, you’re essence itself is a crime.

It’s ridiculous how everything is related to sex. Long-existing traditions and social beliefs, nourished by the Arab heritage, are contributing to increasing violence towards women. Fatima El Mernissi states in her book “Sultanes Oubliées” that the era of the prophet Mohamed was supposedly marked by the utopia of meritocracy – with the will to end the aristocracy and giving chances to everyone – meaning freeing slaves and empowering women. He built the first mosque so everybody could be equal within those four walls. It was meant for women and men to discuss politics and social issues. When he died, his sayings were interpreted and transformed to serve the rulers at that time in Arab countries. Playing on nuances and spreading doubt is, indeed, our forte. A series of assassination and trickeries succeeded one another obviously. Since then, Arab countries disempowered women by putting them into harems. Women living there were enslaved and reduced to being the properties of men. Easy to put them away from politics, power, and anything that could actually play with men’s ego.

Only the Yemen knew two powerful queens, Asma and Urwa. Their names were heard during the Dohr prayer on Fridays, as any Khalife. The word Khalife did have a female version in the past. However, historians did everything to belittle them, and erased them from books (good luck finding one that actually talks about how powerful they were). As a result, no one could question the legitimacy of a ruler who can only be a man.

Quick reminder: in Islam, only a descendant from Mohamed can rule a country and its believers. That descended is called a Khalife. The Yemen is a Shia country and they are drawing their legitimacy from women while Sunni believe only a male descendant can transmit the right to power.

Under the reign of the former king, Hassan 2, Morocco went through the “years of lead” – a heavy political oppression and humiliation eliminating protesters, the intellectual elite, and lowering the level of education on purpose. The harems only ended after he died (18 years ago). A divide grew between different regions as well as between the aristocracy and the people. And women are weaker than ever. At least, under the harems, the education was a must, and they were somehow united. In the rural side, women are only left with being the properties of their husbands.

According to Camilia Paglia, empowering women means freeing men. Then, let me put it this way. To Moroccan men… Please take your freedom seriously. After all, we are all condemned to be free. Sartre said that better than anyone. Once thrown in this world, you are responsible for what you’re doing. Why is it so hard to understand? We are not in the fucking jungle for you to do whatever you want. We are not the second sex. We are not your property. Our vagina does not define us as your dick does not define you. Go to school and fucking read. Now.

To Moroccan women… You must demand respect. Each woman must fight for her rights. Why would you perpetuate the same traditions that once narrowed your freedom? Why would you teach your sons to be nothing but dicks? Why would you put your daughter through a female genital mutilation? Do you like how sexually unhappy you are? FYI, Camille Paglia thinks that the process of becoming stronger, controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights starts with knowing yourself. Sexuality is part of it. Basics of Biology 101. Why do I see you marching to defend a rapist shouting that a so called handsome man cannot rape anyone “because he doesn’t need to”? In fact, I read that many of you wished to be raped by him… Why would you go back to a husband that beats you? Why would you call a “whore” a woman who chose not to wear the veil and wear a bikini? Why would you contribute to bashing women? Go to school and fucking read.

We are stuck in the middle ages, and we are going backwards, people. Can’t anybody see that?

Spreading love in a Gay Pride

It’s Gay Pride time in Gainesville! I gave away these posters to couples so they can stick together. Each had one piece of Love. The only price I asked for was a promise: to always be proud of loving whoever they wanted to love.

100 things that inspire me

  1. Adversiting
  2. Paris
  3. Letterpress
  4. Swiss typography
  5. Jim Riswold
  6. NYC
  7. Paula Scher
  8. Diane Arbus
  9. Riding my bike
  10. Doodle on my sketchbook while you’re talking
  11. Cannes Lions
  12. Smelling paint
  13. Putting my head into an ocean (or my bubble bath)
  14. Hard-working people
  15. Books. More books, please.
  16. Milan Kundera, my first love
  17. My mom
  18. Simone de Beauvoir
  19. My former creative director, Yanis.
  20. Thom Yorke
  21. Robert Smith
  22. Max Richter
  23. Chopin
  24. Novum
  25. Art galleries
  26. Edith Piaf
  27. Ignant
  28. Instagram
  29. Casablanca by night
  30. Gainsbourg
  31. Hammocks
  32. Camille Paglia
  33. Icecream
  34. Seigmester
  35. David Carson
  36. Nature
  37. Geometry
  38. Packagings in supermarkets
  39. Talking to strangers
  40. Silence
  41. Cheerios
  42. Miyazaki
  43. Yayoi Kusama
  44. Yoshitomo Nara
  45. Wes Anderson
  46. Tim Burton
  47. The eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
  48. Museums
  49. Blank cotton paper
  50. Doing something I’ve never done before
  51. Alexander Wang
  52. The Bauhaus
  53. Van Gogh
  54. Monet
  55. Travelling
  56. The New Yorker
  57. Parks
  58. DIY activities
  59. Pop culture
  60. Bottled French crushed grapes
  61. Red lipstick
  62. Handmade signs
  63. The universe
  64. Chanel
  65. Windows (I’m not talking about operating systems obviously, I hate Windows)
  66. Fairy lights
  67. Kindness
  68. Swings
  69. Book covers
  70. Libraries
  71. Old bookstores
  72. Murals
  73. Smelling fruits
  74. My imaginary friend
  75. Margiela
  76. Failing
  77. Rules to break
  78. Freedom
  79. Nietzsche
  80. Sartre
  81. Home
  82. Explosions in the sky
  83. Sigur Ros
  84. Imperfection
  85. Asymmetry
  86. Difference
  87. People
  88. L’amour
  89. Sleepless nights working on stuff
  90. Baudelaire
  91. Apollinaire
  92. Sand
  93. Stories
  94. The Lion King
  95. Kafka
  96. Ionesco
  97. Warhol
  98. Sunsets
  99. Sunrises
  100. Being alive

Warning for my future employers

In an effort to make both of us happy, I thought I should kindly let you know some things that can hardly change.


Leave this page if you can’t get dark humor.

To idea killers: if you’re one of them, do not contact me.

If you’re lazy, leave me alone.

I won’t bring you coffee, unless coffee is a pitch.

Don’t ask me if I’d be willing to stay after hours in our first interview. The answer is fucking obvious. Why would I say no?

I don’t like gossiping.

I don’t care about your dog.

I don’t care about your cat.

I don’t care about your red fish.

I don’t care about your diet.

I care about your mom. Moms need more caring.

Stop complaining.

Do I look like I have a charger for you?

I can have lunch with you only if you know Kundera (and if you stop complaining).

I hustle. It’s not attitude.

Don’t eat in my plate.

You can have my soul in art galleries and museums.

I can always be your 911 if you need me.

I don’t believe in commands. You should remember advertising is supposed to be fun; even when a client is giving you multiple heart attacks each 30 seconds. It’s fun. We are not in the military. The military is not fun. So… I won’t shave my head. In case this wasn’t clear: I don’t believe in dictators. We all know how they ended up. I prefer teamwork.

The only difference between you and me is, probably, that I read Sartre in four languages.

Don’t get excited. I won’t translate your stupid text message for your girlfriend. I don’t work for Google Translate. Google Translate works for Google Translate.

I will not design your son’s birthday invitations, unless your son is my son.

Talking about design… Blue and green aren’t the same colors.

It’s not about making logos bigger; it’s about balance.

Who the fuck uses dafont.com anyway?

If you come to me 35464930 times to make stupid iterations on a copy or else, I will probably throw all my beautiful notebooks at you.

I know you’ll love me. Believe me, I love me, and I don’t love a lot of people. Sigh.

Okay, I guess we’re on the same page. “One day I will find the right words and they will be simple” — Kerouac.

With love,


P.S.: Humor. Remember. Humor.

A stupid day with a smurf

He goes to work…


…and hides in a watermelon.


Drug time for lunch.


He takes wild selfies for Instagram survival purposes after lunch.


He imagines his tiny portrait in Lascaux… and dies from an overdose.


The end of a stupid day.


Not fasting Ramadan is a crime worth drinking for

Two guys in Zagora were sentenced to 2 months in prison, and have to pay 500 MAD ($50) to the authorities for daring to drink water under 48°C (118.4°F).


Rumors say, God’s words were: “you shall faint in the desert during Ramadan and fucking die drinking your own saliva to earn your place in paradise” (maybe without “fucking”).

These gentlemen are lucky! According to the 222 article of our criminal code, they could have payed 10000 MAD ($1000) if the judge was in a really bad mood.

Judges tend to get in a really bad mood when prostitutes go on vacation for the holy month. They can’t get one damn good blow job.

Now that I’m thinking very seriously about it, I would have been quite broke by now myself.


Oh Look! I’m painting more weirdoes.


Fancy pool. Fancy party. Fancy drinks. Fancy people.


I was asked to do something funny on a wall. I thought painting (hold your breath) ghosts stealing a fancy beer from a girl wearing a fancy underwear over weird pants in a fancy party standing next to a fancy shark-legged idiot and another long-legged idiot in a Fancy suit with a banana who are almost having some fancy fun was a damn smart thing to put on a wall.

Well, nothing is funnier than painting ghosts stealing a fancy beer from a girl wearing a fancy underwear over weird pants in a fancy party standing next to a fancy shark-legged idiot and another long-legged idiot in a Fancy suit with a banana who are almost having some fancy fun.

Commas have been deleted on purpose for this breathing exercice since the artwork has been judged breathtakingly funny.