△☐○ | Week 6 | Voyage d’Émotions

“We ought to cultivate a little emotion, a little emotional vice, from time to time. […] It may be hard for us, and among ourselves, we perhaps laugh at the appearance we thus present. But what does it matter! There is no other method available for conquering ourselves.”

Nietzsche—Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist

 

△Three things that stood out to me

I fell in love with an f.
I attended a lecture by Berton Hasebe, Christian Schwartz and Patrick Li. God. Meeting more type nerds was liberating. Weirdos, we ain’t! No. I fell in love with an f, set in Schnyder, and wasn’t scared to scream it out loud. F, I love you. Forever. And ever! There.

A 4th of July in the 90s
I woke up, and decided to go to a park in Long Island with friends. We didn’t know what to expect, but we certainly didn’t think we were going to be back in time for few hours. Something was off. People were engaging in all kinds of activities. Playing. Barbecuing. Riding on a pedal boat. Telling stories. Petting a dog. Eating watermelon. Shooting fireworks. Drinking a beer. And if you still don’t get it, don’t worry. It took us a while to realize that no one was holding a phone. No one was disconnected from life. And that felt like childhood. Coming back to the city felt like war though, and gave me anxiety.

The little girl who was still a little girl
On the subway, a 5-year-old girl was sitting like society banned us to sit. Legs wide open. Seeing her naively defy the unspoken rule felt so refreshing. And that also felt like childhood to me. Boring adults, we become.

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me

Happiness is out there, waiting to be noticed
I worked all weekend until Sunday afternoon. In the zone. Almost no sleep. I needed a break. I went to Prospect Park. It was breathtaking.

Sunny. Little breeze. The colors of the trees are extremely bright. Leaves have different shades of green. The lake is covered with green algae. Three girls are picnicking near me. A Beaux-art style boathouse is in the background, reminding me of an old theater in Tangier. It’s heartwarming. Radiohead is playing in my ears. Few people are walking in and out from this perfect décor. I lost track of time until fireflies started dancing on the grass.

Everything seemed designed in that space. Crafted with love. Like a movie scene with the most unreal reality. This hyperconsciousness of what was around me made me genuinely happy. Yes. This is what true happiness feels like. I’m sure these girls felt the same.

○ 1 Question 

“Would everything be taken away?”
Adrian Piper’s statement was somehow less of a platitude than “every great thing has an end.” And yet, I wonder if every great thing just deserves that we fight for it. Would everything be taken away if we fight to keep everything? It’s always easier to give up and dub it with a stupid romantic saying.

△☐○ | Week 5 | Baptized New Yorker

There is no day that look like the other. Almost everything has a puzzling dimension. Like when you’re traveling. You don’t do things twice. And even if you do, it seems new. Knowing this, I have my entire sensitivity out, absorbing everything it can. From the wondrous to the shitty. It’s all magic to me.

 

△Three things that stood out to me

Bayrle’s foresaw our digital future
First, you should know that Bayrle was a German advertiser in the 60s. And I adore seeing work from those who take unusual paths to reach Rome. In his retrospective at the New Museum, it was crystal clear to me how we got to where we are. Pain. Hundreds of tiny pictures, units and patterns set on a grid form a larger picture and change perspectives as one walks by his artworks. His exhibition, highlighting consumerism, propaganda, and desire is hypnotizing… and thinking of all the midcentury tools that he must have used to painfully create his not-digital-twists was inspiring.

“Divorce is my dream”
In a very long conversation talking about plants, love, and album covers, I told my roommate I got a divorce two years ago. Usually, I face pity, surprise or judgement. But his reaction was totally unexpected. He jumped off his chair shouting: “this is amazing! It’s my dream to get a divorce!” To him (and only to him), it meant I was freaking cool for some alien reason. We laughed so hard. And it felt good.

Fuck you!
One of my favorite things on earth is to take pictures of everything that inspires me visually. Usually just random details. So, this time, I found myself in the middle of crossing a street, when the signal was allowing me to do so, and decided to take a picture of buildings… right there. And, from nowhere, I heard this truck driver screaming at me: ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY?! Quite surprised, I replied that if the signal wasn’t red, I could roll my body on the crosswalk if I wanted to. And then it escalated to a series of fuck you.
Me: What the fuck?
Him: Fuck off!
Me: Fuck you, you fucking idiot!
Him: Fuck you!
The situation was so fucking ridiculous that I laughed and left. I’m not proud, but this was it. I was a baptized New Yorker. Yay?

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me

Authenticity has a framework
The exhibition 200 women who will change the way you see the world, at the Pen + Brush Gallery, is full of wonderful female portraits and authentic stories based on five questions about what is most important to their life. What’s truly powerful is how they have so much in common, and ipso facto, how we have so much in common. And, this, we seem to forget in our everyday life. Yet, authenticity mysteriously needs a setting. It had to be in front of a white backdrop to work out. So capricious.

○ 1 Question 

What happens when you have a creative block and the Oblique Strategies don’t work?
Suddenly, taking pee breaks and looking at my bellybutton seem numbingly interesting. That very big void likes to swallow every inch of my brain because I can’t add up the pieces. And I was pretty good at maths! Dammit!

△☐○ | Week 4 | Outside my comfort zone

This week, I was inside a brand-new washer. Quite violent. Mildly heartbreaking. Extremely breathtaking. It means I have stories, and you need a coffee because I’m clearly over caffeinated. 

 

△Three things that stood out to me

There is no point of being a graphic designer unless it’s a calling
I am not talking about the cheesiness of doing the job you love versus being stuck in some shitshit you fucking hate. I’m talking about an inevitable metamorphosis to any designer worth their salt. The moment obsession becomes more than obsession, you’re fucked. I find numerals, indexes and hot water supply pipes sexy. I also think nothing is good enough, especially my work. That kind of obsession. So if you’re not a graphic designer, you can still be an acceptable human being. I’m telling you, you’d better be a coconut eater… unless it’s a calling.

Doing something you hate might be great
How many times do we take situations we have no control over and make the most of them? Paul Sahre made me work with Papyrus. At first, I wanted to jump from my table (I’m 1 apple tall) and die. God. Why? Why me? What did I do (besides everything I wasn’t supposed to do)? He gave me no choice but to embrace this horrible foot drawn typeface, and make something out of it. After two hours of gesticulating like an agonizing fish, I finally made an abstract background with it, using several layers and transparency. I must say, I almost like Papyrus now. Fascinating!

Heroes are human
This year, I met several people I admired at work. People who used to paralyze me. People who used to give me an instant brain damage. Then, I realized that the only difference between someone I admire and me, is that I’m a retard (to a certain degree). But both of us poop. So, all good.

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me

Meaningless is harder than meaningful
After doing my typography workshop with Paul Sahre, I understood that the hardest thing isn’t the concept. The hardest thing is the form. We are in a vacuum. All the information that we swallow every day end up being remixed intuitively, jamming in our head, which makes it hard and almost alien to not give meaning to something.

○ 1 Question
Why can’t people be themselves?
Obviously, this starts with me being drunk. And drunk me talks with everybody to seek truth. It’s odd. I mean, why would anyone want to talk to twenty strangers to find truth? I should have opened a dictionary. Seriously. The meaning of truth is defined in black and white. I naively thought that in a city as progressive as this one, people would naturally be themselves. The truth is, no one is. And, this, made me cry. What happened to being human? Why can’t we be simply ourselves? What would be the worst thing that could happen? I never heard someone dying from being themselves. People are dead from not being themselves. Oh well, this escalated quickly to some very dark shit. Here is a free hug from a chair! Yay!

P.S.: Happy pride!

△☐○ | Week 3 | Back to Agency Life

Advertising in New York. From the outside, you think of Don Draper and Peggy Olson. It’s not exactly Madmen. It’s not like anything I’ve lived before, and yet it’s everything I thought it would be. And that’s maybe because I was clear on what I was looking for.

 

△Three things that stood out to me

Brilliant people are everywhere I must say.
The first two days at J. Walter Thompson NY were extremely intimidating. Everybody is talented and smart. When they come up with twenty ideas, I have one. I’m truly out of my comfort zone, and love it. I use this as a fuel to grow. It makes me want to give the best of me. It makes me wake up at 6 a.m. willing to fuck up the ad world in the most needed way. I am not a Helmut Krone, but I know can do this. With time.

Meetings don’t last hours
As expected, nobody has a minute to waste. Meetings are not meetings about meetings. If heaven exists, this is it. Sweet.

I missed working during weekends
This may sound foolish, but it’s true. When I was in school this year, I worked my ass off. But it was different. I was alone. Always. Here, people are passionate about what they do. And it makes a ginormous difference.

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me

Grand Marnier, neat, please.

After drinking several glasses of Grand Marnier during a meeting, I left the office quite tipsy. And here comes the magic! I met my elementary school friend randomly. We walked and talked for hours, remembering our childhood. He said I was a revolutionary kiddo. He was telling me how one day I went to the school’s director, complaining about my Arabic teacher giving us the answers during one of his exams. 3-apples-tall me said that this was fucking up the purpose of school and, instead, wanted to learn. I guess I was always a troublemaker. Another Grand Marnier, please.

○ 1 Question What can I do to change advertising?

I walk in JWT with this simple question every day. Whether in Casablanca or in NYC, it’s almost inevitable to face creative frustration. It’s normal to create what you think a client needs knowing they will only take what they want. So, what can I do to change advertising?

 

△☐○ | Week 2 | Diving into Culture

Amid the high energy of the bustling crowd, overconsumption and excess that NYC delivers daily, there is culture. It is everywhere, and it feels infinite. That is where the city’s magic lies.

 

Everyday, I turn into this thirsty sponge. I wake up, shower, swallow a quick breakfast, wear my Nikes, and open the front door—I am ready to walk 10 miles and absorb culture. I hope you imagined all this with a kickass and dramatic opening song.

△Three things that stood out to me this week
The Sketchbook Project:
Reading about this project has nothing to do with experiencing the notebooks in the Brooklyn Art Library. I felt like I was given a special key to unlock strangers’ thoughts and secrets. If Nietzsche believed that people are always living in borrowed splendor and hiding behind a mask, he would have been surprised that no mask survived inside these pages.

What is the ideal feminine?
I did a couple of feminist exhibitions that focused on the female body within the present political and cultural climate. Now, I was particularly sensitive to Genevieve Gaignard’s Counterfeit Currency at the FLAG Art Foundation because she used satire to question the self-constructed and culturally affected female ideal, in staged environments. By challenging assumptions with her multiple mise-en-abîme and humor, I just thought that the iconic work by Kruger Your Body is a Battleground has never been more current. Sad.

Brooklyn Pride:
Hundreds of people from different age groups and backgrounds were celebrating love with an incredible positive energy. Within the vibrant parade, there was one detail that brought tears to my eyes. I heard Arab music, and couldn’t believe what I was going to see—a Middle Eastern & North African float. Considering that homosexuality is a crime in these countries, I thought their presence was a bold and wonderful statement.

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me
Design activates our senses:
After being amazed when watching the futuristic Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson and interacting with the brilliant design projects in the Cooper Hewitt Museum, I realized that graphic design lives in different environments with no limits whatsoever.

Erica Dorn did a meticulous job, from the English and Japanese titles carefully set on a grid to all the crazy detailed props, making Wes Anderson’s love for Futura in his previous movies appear obsolete.

And the inspirational design installations involving more than the traditional emphasis on visible form blew me away in the museum. I was touching, listening, smelling as well as scrutinizing design pieces made by the world’s greatest designers for hours. It made me forget the instant crush I had for the handmade signs in Coney Island the day before.

Sorry Coney, it’s hard to compete with the future.

○ 1 Question
Hey NYC, what the hell with the trash?
I was walking in Williamsburg with a friend of mine, a Moroccan artist born and raised in NYC, and we found ourselves in a street full of trash. He confessed: “You know, there is something I really love about this trash. It reminds me of my childhood. It’s the authentic New York.”

They should redefine the word pollution in the dictionary. It should be something like: the emotional expression of nostalgic people.

△☐○ | Week 1 | Moving to New York

Getting a summer position as a creative in New York is far from being easy. The competition is ruthless. The agencies are selective. The city is bold. I followed Bukowski’s advice. I found what I love, and didn’t mind if it killed me. Fresh cut passion. Design. Advertising. Art. New York is just the best city on earth for this trio.

 

Fuck Yeah! I managed to find a room in Brooklyn, and not inside a freezer. In my suitcase, I packed Ellen Lupton’s Thinking with Type, my Macbook, Wacom tablet, camera, X-acto knife, a picture of my mom, a couple notebooks and some clothes. The perfect survival kit. I am oh-so-ready to leave the swamp!

When I arrived to NY, I took an Uber to what will soon become home.

Him: “Where are you coming from?”
Me: “Florida.”
Him: “Hahaha, welcome to reality!”

I guess Florida sounds like Disneyland with bugs to Newyorkers.


△ 3 things that stood out to me since I moved here:

There is a home for everybody:
After a quick trip to Ikea, my place looked like me. For the very first time in my life, I felt home. Like truly home. It felt like I always lived here. That’s the power of NY. Indeed, as much as I usually feel like an alien around everybody else, this city has people who nerd out on the same things, people who work their ass off, people who speak the truth no matter what, people who can tell you that you’re beautiful without willing anything in return but a smile, and people who dream big. It means I am not an alien after all. Sigh. 

brooklyn


Diversity is powerful:

People from all around the world live here in peace. Why can’t the world just do the same? No hatred. No bullshit. This reminds me of an incredible design project by Liron Lavi. She designed a typeface forming words that can be read in both Arabic and Hebrew. Damn genius! Click here to check out her project!

new york


Details are not small:

In an email, Michael Bierut told me something very true: “There is plenty of inspiration to be had in New York and I can tell you’ll make the most of it!” Whenever I go out, everything inspires me. Every single detail gives me goosebumps. Signs, bricks, brownstones, parks, people, dogs, streets, doors, rivers, subways, billboards, museums, galleries, markets, stairs, textures, colors, sounds, murals… NY is a kaleidoscope equipped a soul.

food superbazaar

 

☐ 1 thing that made sense to me:
Nasty women make history:
I went to the Brooklyn Museum during Target First Saturday, and finally saw the Radical Women exhibition. At the end, I wandered in the shop, and found buttons saying: “nasty women make history.” In Morocco, people think I’m a nasty woman. Ha!

radical women


○ 1 question:

Why can’t we order a Bloody Mary before 10 a.m.?
I arrived in this beautiful brunch place in Greenwhich Village, very thirsty, on a Sunday morning. I thought a Bloody Mary was like a spicy tomato soup with plenty of vodka. It sounded like a healthy breakfast. I had to wait until 10:01 to order my Bloody Mary. I asked the waiter to replace the vodka with tequila. I don’t remember what happened next.

bloody mary

Teaching the language of troublemaking

For a hungry troublemaker, teaching graphic design is heaven. I believe design is the language of troublemaking since it challenges established thinking. It is also certain intent with uncertain form to break through mediocrity. 

 

For the very first time in my life, I found myself teaching. After four years working as a creative in advertising, academia can be scary. The truth is, I had no idea how much I was going to enjoy sharing my passion with my students. I taught Visual Methods and Processes, and my only obsession was to empower them. We have worked on storytelling, book covers, branding, and experimental artist books using Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, After Effects and Lightroom.

Today was the last day of class, and I wanted to share my experience. I believe teaching is about inspiring, guiding and challenging. It’s about feeding the right amount of information to sparkle curiosity, but not giving away too much for a student to throw up. It’s about listening with empathy and respecting each other. It’s about creating a safe space where truth can be told with no harm. It’s about generating infinite possibilities within constraints. It’s about this genuine feeling of happiness whenever students were proud of their work. It’s about embracing failure and calming the anxiety of making mistakes. It means someone has tried. And it matters. Failure attracts success when combined with persistence.

For me, this is the beginning of a wonderful human experience, and I’m looking forward to teach typography next semester. But I will never forget my first 14 amazing students. Shelby, Juana, Davis, Jennifer, Aya, Micah, Carly, Dana, Kelsy, Dylan, Ashley, Clifford, Kirsten, and Andrea, thank you for every single moment we spent OCDing together. I’m not sorry for training your eyes to notice all the visual crimes surrounding us. Now, continue believing in yourself, being curious, feeding your passion, working your ass off, trying, failing and succeeding. You have designed four beautiful projects. You can now design anything. And remember, if Massimo Vignelli thinks so, it can only be true.

My cutting mat and I are in love (or something close)

Before reading what follows, you need to know these few words on my cutting mat aren’t a 100% packaged bullshit sauce. They are pure love. Or something close to that. 

 

I named my cutting mat, Matt.

Very original.

We have a beautiful banal relationship, really. It was almost necessary to fall in love with each other. We often spend very long intimate nights with my x-acto knife, and Matt puts up with all of it. On the other hand, my x-acto knife has a weird humor. It only hurts my left forefinger. It doesn’t like change. Go figure.


Matt doesn’t care when I go crazy on iterations until my OCD brain is satisfied with something that I will probably rip again few weeks later.

Nop, he doesn’t care.

He giggles when I spread my proofs on top of him. They tickle, he says.

Mmmh.


I don’t think Matt loves my voice when I sing at 4 A.M. but he doesn’t complain either. He just hates glitter. And wants to live in Siberia. He hates the humidity of Florida. I can’t blame him.

I’m terribly sorry for the glitter. I know it gets stuck between your squared teeth. I love you. 


Matt loves numbers and geometry, but he can’t think in centimeters. He’s proud to be American like every American.

Stubborn thing.


Matt thinks my illustrations are weird.

I agree.

Life is easier when I do.

You’re the stubborn thing, says Matt.

I disagree. I just like going on opposite directions. Blake would think no progression is possible without this mindset. Blake is right. 


My x-acto listened to this conversation, went on the opposite direction, and cut my left forefinger. Damn you!

The end.

#TimesUp / Keep your stupid hands to yourself

Sexual harassment should have no place in this world, but we are far from being in a world free from discrimination and abuse. We, as human beings, have the power to fight against it. I made this small tunnel book called “Keep Your Stupid Hands to Yourself” to join the cause, and stand for equity across all industries.

 

Dear sisters, speak up. Please, stop finding excuses to justify and normalize sexual harassment. Your clothes have nothing to do with it. Your background has nothing to do with it. Your skin color has nothing to do with it. Your age has nothing to do with it. It’s not okay. It’s not normal. It will never be. Dear sisters, stand by other women. It’s hard enough to be heard, respected and to rise in a male-dominated world. Change is here. Let’s all embrace it.

 

#TimesUp

timesup

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.