Art and design has been a passion for visual artist Maram Ata throughout her life. She believes the key to great design is simplicity and well-structured proportions that clearly communicate a vision. From digital designs to offline material and branding to content, Maram is always challenging her creative practice and pushing her artistic skills.
We talk to Maram about her journey to becoming an artist, the art of branding, how her cultural heritage has inspired her practice and her thoughts on the future of Islamic art and culture.
You are a visual designer, illustrator, and experienced creative, how did your journey in the creative sector begin?
It started in college, where I learned about traditional Islamic arts, and I understood design principles and how the artists and craftsmen communicated their messages and stories through the different forms of art. For the next ten years, as I kept practicing traditional arts, I developed the curiosity to understand how modern communications work through art and design, which led me to a new career path as a graphic designer, supported by my illustration and layout design skills.
How has your cultural heritage living in Amman, Jordan shaped your creative practice?
I was born and raised in Jeddah, moved to Amman for college and my hometown is Jerusalem where I spent summertime as a kid. All three cities influenced my practice in a different way. Jordan for example offers great inspirations for me, starting from the mosaic frames in Madaba, to the paintings on the Amra palace walls, where I look at their illustration style, competitions, layout, decorative frames, and color harmony, and what they have in common as well as their development journey “it shares lots of details with miniature paintings”. As well as the active modern art scene in Jordan.
You believe that key to great design is simplicity, can you tell us more about this concept and idea?
Creative design is a build-up process, even the most sophisticated visual designs start with a simple geometric structure, main focal point, and supporting elements to guide the eye smoothly to the most important elements by order. This process applies to decorated holly manuscripts, miniature paintings, and social media posts! In illuminated manuscripts, you need to give focus on the calligraphy, where all decorative frames are balanced around in colors and space to keep the script as the hero element and fade out in thin details into the outer space of the page.
In miniature painting, the elements “people, animals, plants” are placed on the geometric structure by the order of the event, which enables you to read the story visually.
How do the visual arts influence branding?
Branding is basically designing the image that will be in consumers’ minds when thinking of a certain product or service, it’s a full experience of emotions that is stimulated visually first by colors, styles, etc. So, both the designer and artist are working to produce designs and art that communicate a message and connect with people. Learning visual arts is learning the unspoken language that connects all humans together.
Your works are inspired by miniature painting traditions. What made you develop an interest in this artistic traditions?
I specialized in manuscripts illumination, and always looked at miniature paintings for inspiration as they are full of decorative elements. I started reading more about them and learning about their symbolisms, different schools, and techniques which were familiar to me as an illuminator.
When did you develop an interest in Islamic art?
You can’t live in the Middle East without developing an interest in Islamic arts, I enjoyed looking at details in mosques, Quranic scripts and always got lost in museums. So, when I found out there is a college in Amman that offers diverse courses I just signed in!
How did you train to become an artist specializing in these traditional artforms?
At college under the supervision of traditional masters and kept practicing and developing my technical skills after. As well as looking at museums collections, masters’ artwork, and fellow traditional artists.
Where do you find inspiration to create your works?
Everywhere, books, architecture, and even movies “when pausing you can notice the competitions in each frame”.
Your works are incredibly detailed, how long does it take for you to create a piece?
Creating a piece is like a meditation to me, I get lost in time! But the time varies depending on the design and techniques used. I design my paintings from scratch so it can take 3 days to a week to create the outlines once I have a concept. And the execution also depends on the piece it might take a month or 3.
What are your aspirations as an artist, what do you hope to achieve?
I would like to be able to tell our stories in the same fascinating way traditional stories were told, not necessarily in the exact form but with the same amount of excellence that keeps amazing us till today.
How do you create your colour compositions?
In gilded paintings, gold color is the hero! So, after that, any color choice is decided to be balanced with it to produce a well-merged piece.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I would say the cover design of the late King Hussein’s handwritten Quran. And my collaboration with the Emirati brand Feathers in designing a scarves collection inspired by Islamic art.
Can you share the most memorable reaction to your work?
The day the management team gathered to view my cover design for the late King Hussein’s Quran, and they thought the design was a case study from a museum!
What do you think the future of Islamic art looks like and how do you think we can continue to keep the tradition alive?
The essence of Islamic arts is beauty with function, and naturally, as the functions change the visual appearance will follow. I believe that the best way to keep the tradition alive as well as create the next block in the chain, is by learning the designing principles used in the traditional arts and the geometric systems that lay underneath, which is the key to understanding how it was developed and influenced over the centuries. Once we have that foundation right, it will be part of the connection regardless of its style.
For more information check out www.maramata.com
The views of the artists, authors and writers who contribute to Bayt Al Fann do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Bayt Al Fann, its owners, employees and affiliates.