As far back as she can remember, Joumana Dagher has always been drawn to artistic expression. Escaping the Lebanese Civil War, she and her family traveled extensively and returned home right after the dust had settled, which was also when she enrolled in the graphic design programme at the Lebanese American University. She went on to work for various advertising agencies and website development companies. She takes special care in honing her illustration skills by attending professional trainings and workshops whenever she can. Years later, she started her own production of beanbags and pillows basing her first collection on comic characters, which grew to include her own drawings, doorstops, pouches and fashion wear such as purses and beach bags. What follows are some of the most interesting insights she took the time to share with ArabAd.
What other disciplines are you passionate about?
Travel impacts my work the most. I live off new discoveries in culture, colour and form. Though I like nature, it is human contact that tickles my imagination and carries my work from concept to product. I also collect ritual paint, old boxes, tickets and masks as well as play the piano.
What kind of design style do you follow?
Style can change in many ways. I am not tied to a particular school when it comes to artistic creation. It’s a combination of feelings, natural evolution, and my environment. Having said that, I have always loved vintage (and still do), even though I am increasingly dawn toward typography and minimalism. Nevertheless, my work is bold and quite colourful as it needs to make a statement. My lines are geometric and linear, similar to the way music is structured. They can grow thick when in crescendo and will not need much detail in shading or colour when fading over time.
Could you tell us about your design process and the tools you use on a daily basis?
My sketchbook and pen are my port of call. I examine the nature of each project in personal and contextual terms to crystallise the idea I want to develop. I start with a draft that, as it is refined, acquires a specific identity. I use Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator at this stage. However, I very much enjoy the execution when printing as the final product begins to take shape.
How has Lebanon influenced your work?
I created a collection called 'Beirut graffiti' a couple of years ago influenced by the street art across the city at that time.
Do you have a favourite piece in your portfolio?
Ideally, every piece in a portfolio should possess a strong concept and a solid design. I don’t have a favourite because I always look to my first beanbag collection 'Arabesque' as one that will never go out of style. The art of Thai Buddhist mandala – sacred painting -- was the spark behind this concept.
Which project or period of your career have you enjoyed the most so far?
The 'Vasarely fly away' collection. For some reason, I had rediscovered the clean geometrical abstract lines of this early twentieth century artist while on a trip to West Africa and I thoroughly enjoyed bridging and contrasting these two seemingly disparate influences.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I just love what I do. It is gratifying to create a new product or design that is then acquired and worn by someone or placed in their garden or home. It is like an invitation into someone’s life, a shared connection.
What are you currently fascinated by and how is it feeding into your work?
I am interested in typography and the evolution of the printing industry. The online revolution has not changed the way I work.
What are some of your favourite new trends in design?
I have a short attention span, so my tastes are fluid.
What would you say is your strongest skill?
I have a fair grasp when using Photoshop and Illustrator. I was also told that my printing skills are pretty good.
Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?
'Less is more.'
Are you working on anything exciting at the moment?
Things just seem to flow naturally. I don’t consciously make art though I do try to keep things fresh.