Computer Arts: Tell us about the project ...
Saad Moosajee: The project began as a final project for design class at my college, Rhode Island School of Design. The prompt was to explore a European country’s culture; I selected Turkey and chose to explore Islamic art and design. I’ve been interested in Islamic design for several years, so It was exciting to have an opportunity to explore the subject. Research led me to the islamic tradition of Arabesque, which is often overshadowed by Calligraphy, the other main category of Islamic design. Arabesque is a form of artistic embellishment that utilises various surface decorations based on rhythmic linear patterns.
Arabesque often focused on botanically implausible leaf forms and imaginary floral motifs. Arabesque is a highly traditional form of art, and during my research I struggled to find digital illustrations that directly referenced the style. I found this intriguing, as to me the mathematical and visual properties of Arabesque make it perfect for digital illustration. An idea eventually sparked to reinterpret the style of Arabesque using contemporary techniques and devices. The final series of images I created flows in a visual chronology, with the first image being the most true interpretation, and the last image being the most contemporary.
CA: How did you put the pieces together?
SM: The creative process for the project began by researching the traditions and fundamental principles of Arabesque. All forms of Islamic design are highly mathematical so I found it necessary to familiarise myself with the style before designing my own interpretation.
After acquiring research, I began sketching compositional grids and modeling elements for the illustrations. I wanted to control all aspects of the visual process, so I opted to model the elements in 3D instead of manipulating photos. I used the Cinema 4D for modeling and rendering. Once a floral object was rendered, I'd then place it within the compositional grid in Photoshop. This proved to be a slow and tedious process but was the method I found best suited the concept. The three illustrations in this series were completed over a period of three months.
CA: How did you get into design?
SM: I began designing things at age 13, after downloading a free trial of Photoshop and teaching myself the software over the course of two years. At 15, I began uploading my work online and received positive feedback from various blogs in addition to a freelance job for Tiger Beer.
I spent most of high school freelancing commercially, teaching myself digital programs and establishing the Slashthree collective (opens in new tab). In my senior year, I decided to pursue art full-time and enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design.
CA: How would you describe you style?
SM: My current style is highly digital and emphasises abstract 3D forms. Since beginning RISD, I believed my style has evolved into something that integrates traditional technique more frequently. Unfortunately, I haven’t found time to complete anything in this new style. I have too many influences to name, but lately have found myself drawing on nature and the environment as a constant source of inspiration. Many of my ideas for personal projects days come from events I experienced while learning and traveling.
Check out more from Saad Moosajee (opens in new tab) on his website.
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