... the more I practiced drawing, the more I added detail - until one day it looked real.
The work of London based artist Nourine Hammad is both simple and complex - exceptionally detailed and extremely vivid. Her drawings portray subjects that may seem mundane, but have a wealth of stories behind them, their physical attributes rendered so realistically that it is hard to believe they are not the real thing.
Hammad used to work as an engineer, aspects of which still find their way into her drawings. Her in-depth knowledge of geometry has equipped her with a profound understanding of her subjects and how to translate them onto paper in a way that makes the viewer want to reach out and touch them.
We interviewed the artist to learn more about her artistic journey.
INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Growing up, did you always want to be an artist?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist, but then I grew up loving math and physics just as much, so I decided to study computer science engineering. I never thought, after studying and then working as an engineer for 8 years, that I would completely change my career to being an artist. I honestly never regretted this decision.
Do you think your work as an engineer has influenced your practice as an artist?
There is definitely a connection between studying engineering and art. Engineering is about math, physics and logic, which can all be related to drawing. When there is an in-depth knowledge about the geometry of the subject, that's when you understand how to translate it onto paper.
What drew you to hyperrealism as a style?
Honestly, hyperrealism wasn't a goal that I was working towards. I think it happened by coincidence because I am someone who is really into details. The more I practiced drawing, the more I added detail - until one day it looked real. It was at this point that I fell in love with the process and the beauty of this art form.
How do you choose your subjects?
I pick my subjects based on different aspects; mainly subjects that inspired me or experiences that I've been through. I also look for subjects that seem quite mundane, but have an interesting physical appearance or stories behind them.
Your pieces often have a meaning beyond the portrayed object, could you tell us a bit about your most recent pieces?
That's the focal point of my artwork. I like the viewer to see beyond the subject itself. So I focus on creating a piece of art that tells a story that I personally connect with. For example, the Arabic Calligraphy balloon series: it isn't about the balloon, it's more than that. It's about integrating Arabic art and portraying it in hyperrealism.
Could you describe your creative process?
I basically start with the concept, which I believe is the hardest part of my process because not only does it take time - not all ideas can be put to paper. It's a trial and error phase. After that, I move on to photographing my subject from different perspectives; this allows me to choose the right angle that highlights my subject the most. Then, with the reference photos, I start to create the artwork.
What would you like your work to evoke in the viewer?
I would love the viewer to relate and connect to my drawings in a certain way. Each artwork can be seen in different ways, depending on the viewer’s perception.
How do you feel about the increased accessibility that comes with selling art online?
Of course, selling art on a larger platform has made a huge difference. Although everything happens online and on Instagram, I think it becomes more personal because the more people see my work and know me as an artist, the more they connect with my drawings on a personal level too. That's my aim and I will work even harder to nurture this relationship between the viewer and the artwork.