Rafik El Hariri

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Rafik: "I cannot love others if I cannot love myself first. That is something we all fell into its trap at some point in our lives. I went through a lot of self-rediscovery before reaching that conclusion."

Issue XII Art & Artist Feature Empower

Interviewed Adirti Sen

Edited by Hrudhai Chand

25th December, 2021

Rafik El Hariri is a Forbes 30 under 30 recognized Graphic Designer and an Illustrator. He first ventured off into Graphic Design before adding and pursuing his love for illustrations and image creation. He now creates visual imagery for a variety of commercial and commissioned projects.

 When did you find your passion for art? What is art for you as a medium of expression?

Rafik: Ever since the age of 9, I’ve been experimenting in so many different mediums, from pencil to ink, paper collage, markers, and finally onto digital illustration.

What was your big break that boosted your career?

Rafik: I think it was the first illustration gig I’ve worked on, which was a lyrics video for a significant records company in the UK. The video is at 22M+ views as of today.

 

It must have been tough to make it in an unconventional field with so much competition. Did you have complete support from your close ones in this? Where did you find the strength to keep working?

Rafik: I always found support from my family and my two best friends; they always pushed me to achieve my best self, whether in my career or personal life. The field is competitive but focusing on one’s growth is more crucial than competing with others.

 

In your Ted talk, “narrating pain”, you spoke about mental health and self-revolution. Can you tell us more about it?

Rafik: It was a fantastic experience, going on stage and sharing my journey. I shed light on how the illustration was my healthy coping mechanism for dealing with my eating disorder. Through that particular experience, I realised how important mental health is and how it still needs to be normalised in our day-to-day conversations.

 

You have achieved so much at just the age of 27, from being a TEDx speaker to feature in the Forbes 30 under 30 lists. Sometimes, it feels overwhelming to achieve so much at such a young age and see your hard work pay off?

Rafik: I honestly have mixed feelings about this; on the one hand, I feel immensely humbled and highly motivated to plan for my next step. On the other hand, it feels slightly intimidating having to maintain a pace like this. Nonetheless, it is essential to realise that it is more than okay to take a step back and plan instead of going for anything impulsively.

 

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You created a picture book for adults called “I found a heart.” What was the main idea behind creating this book?

Rafik: The main idea behind this project was the message of self-love; I cannot love others if I cannot love myself first. That is something we all fell into its trap at some point in our lives. I went through a lot of self-rediscovery before reaching that conclusion.

 

TW: Eating Disorder - You struggled with bulimia and anxiety earlier in your life, but you overcame it with the help of digital art, so could you please tell our readers here who might be dealing with the same problem as to how they can overcome it, too? 

Rafik: The most important thing is to voice your pain and not feel afraid about being honest when it comes to ED’s. I am sure it will cause anxiety and nervousness at first. Still, it took me a lot of time to seek help because I was too afraid, to be honest with my support system, family or close friends. And when I decided to do something about it, it was the best decision I could’ve ever made for myself.

 

The pandemic has affected each and every one of us in some or another way. Especially artists who faced creative blocks. Has the pandemic and lockdown affected your work or your creativity in any way?

Rafik: Truthfully, the pandemic and the lockdown experience made me go through creative blocks and creative epiphanies all at once! You’d be surprised how much beauty you can find in the mundane.

 

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Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?

Rafik: I only wish to say that you are not alone in your struggles, and if you ever feel like reaching out, I’m more than happy to answer your questions.

 

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