05.06.2024  •  Advertising NEWS

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GoSee Creatives to Watch : Mahmoud Fathy, Creative Director Art & Design Berlin, in an interview about getting creative to design new worlds, AI as a medium and not as an idea, Egyptian design, and art censorship in Berlin

CREDITS / DETAILS / VIDEO EMBED LINK

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Test shoot in China to create and define the look & feel for Volkswagen in the Chinese market after successfully creating and applying it in Europe. After that the look & Feel was also updated for Volkswagen worldwide

DOP: Jonas Umland
Production: Black+Cameron
Advertising Agency: Meta Design Beijing & Voltage - DDB Berlin
Art Director: Sally Anderson, Mahmoud Fathy, Siuming Leung
Post Production: Moto & Digitales Leben
Photographer: Uwe Duettmann

Copy the following code to embed this video on your site (use ctrl+c / cmd+c):

CREDITS / DETAILS / VIDEO EMBED LINK

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Test shoot in China to create and define the look & feel for Volkswagen in the Chinese market after successfully creating and applying it in Europe. After that the look & Feel was also updated for Volkswagen worldwide

DOP: Jonas Umland
Production: Black+Cameron
Advertising Agency: Meta Design Beijing & Voltage - DDB Berlin
Art Director: Sally Anderson, Mahmoud Fathy, Siuming Leung
Post Production: Moto & Digitales Leben
Photographer: Uwe Duettmann

Copy the following code to embed this video on your site (use ctrl+c / cmd+c):

We are delighted to present Mahmoud Fathy, a Creative Director Art & Design, here on GoSee, who looks back on more than 18 years of experience in advertising and branding (main focus: transportation). He is an expert when it comes to creating and developing visual concepts for brands and campaigns. Over the course of his career, Mahmoud has already worked in different regional markets, including SWANA, Europe, Latin America, and Chinacollaborating with global clients such as Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Ben, Sony, Ikea, McDonald’s, and Cadbury.

His last career step was as Head of Design at DDB Berlin, where he was instrumental in shaping the visual identity of Volkswagen. This includes testing and defining the look and feel, i.e., style of imagery, for Volkswagen in the Chinese market after it had successfully been created and applied in Europe. As a result, the look and feel saw a global refresh. (photographer was GoSee Member UWE DUETTMANN). His simpatico motto: keep smiling and carry on.

Here on GoSee, he tells us about his work as a creative, the challenges freelance work brings with it, how he uses AI, his hometown Cairo – and the exciting topic of censorship, which is said to even exist in Berlin.

GoSee : How did you become a creative director, and why is it the best job in the world to you? Mahmoud : Well, growing up in Cairo, I was always fascinated by the mix of history and culture around me; from ancient Pharaohs, to Coptic and Islamic cultural influences, or even that of modern-day Cairo. It got me hooked on art and design as I love the way each individual era has its own imagery. I studied art, interior design and set design because I loved the idea of creating something entirely unique and never before seen. I started my career as a visual and graphic designer in branding and gradually worked my way up to the position of creative director in the advertising industry.

Being a creative director lets me blend everything I’ve learned over the years to create brand new visual worlds. It’s like solving a puzzle, finding the perfect way to tell a story in a fresh, contemporary unseen way.

Please tell us a bit about your projects at the moment. Right now, I’m working on a personal project that explores storytelling using visuals alone to make it more universal. I am also experimenting with finding new and different visuals built with the ‘imagination’ of AI using simple prompts, and I build my work over it. Like collaborating with a new member on my team. It’s still the early days of the project, so I’m excited to see where it goes. The commercial market is a bit slow at the moment, which gives me a little extra time to focus on this experiment.

You have just worked on a new project with Lena Gercke. She is known for her fashion label, among other things, and she is launching her own perfume with Coty. Can you tell us about the project and your experience? I was lucky to team up with my friends Bruno Damião and Tiffany Chung at VML on this project, along with Lena Gercke and the Coty team. Exploring the perfume and cosmetics world has been a wonderful experience, and this has been my first time experimenting with AI to make visualizing, creating and editing easier, especially for things like mood boards and storyboards. It perfectly aligned with our vision of creating a fresh world around the product and Lena Gercke, thanks to how well the creative minds at VML ‘collaborated’ with AI technology.

What are your personal experiences with AI? You wrote, “AI is the medium and not the idea. With it, I can expand the way I express visually, but it won’t be the visual concept itself.” AI is a powerful tool. When it comes to visual AI, it’s like the invention of photography in the 19th century. Many people got excited about photography and started hiring photographers instead of painters to create their images and make them look nicer. With the invention of digital photography, we got excited again, and we shifted from editing photos in labs to using editing software. Now, with AI, we can simply tell it what we want to create or change, and it does it for us. However, we still need to use our knowledge and trained eye to ensure AI does exactly what we want. Everyone has a camera on their phone, but not everyone has a photographer’s eye.

Regarding AI for writing, I find it very impressive. I even used it to help me formulate this article in an easy-to-understand way. It doesn’t create my ideas, but it helps me to organize my messy thoughts. For me, AI is a helpful tool and occasionally surprises us with its creations. What matter most are the emotions we want to deliver, not how we have created them. In my experience with car photography, I can tell you this much: if we have a great look and feel, its not good because the car was rendered in GCI – we like it because the image looks natural and well-composed.

Your roots are in Cairo. Are you connected with the creative scene in Egypt? Is it possible to be creative there at the moment, or is censorship an issue? A few years ago, there was a vibrant creative scene. Do you still hear a lot about it today? Yes, I grew up in downtown Cairo and am still connected with a few colleagues from the creative scene, whether they have remained in Cairo or moved elsewhere. Cairo has a very vibrant creative community. Despite the political challenges, the creative scene keeps thriving.

Oddly enough, the only time I have experienced censorship was in Berlin. I was collaborating with a queer Egyptian artist named Mohammad Shawky Hassan on a group exhibition called ‘A Home for Something Unknown’ at Haus am Lützowplatz. Our work consisted of a queer reading of Egyptian and Lebanese TV talkshows. We designed a room with walls covered in Arabic typography displaying the names of the shows or phrases that were made popular through them in Arabic. However, the Arabic text on the walls was censored by the gallery. They told us that it required an English or German translation, and they rejected our proposal even before we had a chance to talk about the work.

From our perspective, people needed to experience the room surrounded by Arabic letters, and the work itself (like most of Hassan’s work) played with the very idea of untranslatability. They were probably worried that we would write a pro Palestinian statement on the walls, so they refused the whole idea and blamed it later on time and budget.

I’m not saying there is no censorship in journalism and art in Cairo, but we are wrong when we think that Germany is free of censorship. In the advertising field, your ideas are also always subjected to censorship; by the marketing team, social media numbers, and feedback – no matter where you live. In the end, censorship can actually enhance creativity, as it forces you to explore what you want to say in a very different way. A creative constraint.

You switched from the agency side to freelancing. What challenges do you face working as a freelance creative today, and what are the perks of not being on the payroll of an agency?
Switching from the agency side to freelancing is both challenging and rewarding. One of the main challenges is the inconsistency of work. Unlike an agency, I have to constantly hunt for new projects, which takes a lot of time and effort. All the administrative tasks, like invoicing, planning and maintaining your network, can also become overwhelming. Plus, there’s no steady paycheck, so financial stability can be a concern during slow periods.

However, freelancing does indeed have many benefits. The flexibility is great. I can choose my projects and plan my own schedule, which has a positive effect on my work-life balance. I also get to work on a variety of personal projects, which keeps things interesting and helps me sharpen my skills. Being my own boss is quite fulfilling because it gives me full control of my creative process and decisions. Up until now, I prefer to work freelance because the flexibility, variety of projects, and freedom are more rewarding than any challenges there may be. However, I have been working freelance for the second year now, and I am thinking about taking a moment to reflect once I have finished the third.

With Studio Fathy, you craft fashion items and designs inspired by the rich cultural heritage and influences of Arabic, Egypt, and Cairo, with a modern twist. Can you tell us a bit more about your creative process and the unique fusion of traditional and contemporary influences in your work? When I moved to Germany, I noticed a one-dimensional view of Arabic and Egyptian designs. Which made me wonder why it is so different from what I’m used to experiencing in Cairo. It inspired me to start Studio Fathy, a space for all my creative projects, especially non-commercial designs. I aim to show my cultural background while experimenting with new ideas.

To start with, I revisited some of my old work to see how I can build upon it. Studio Fathy is the umbrella for all my creations and collaborations with other artists, aiming to create contemporary pieces that may not be to everyone’s taste, but that’s okay.

What lessons can we learn from Egyptian culture? Is there an Egyptian way of life? Egyptian culture is very diverse, depending on where you live. During my time in Cairo, I was able to experience the multilayered history, traditions, and social dynamics of the country first-hand, and I learned to embrace cultural fusion, mixing and matching different aspects to create a style of my very own. I also learned the importance of engaging with others and enjoying the buzz of the city on the bustling streets of Cairo. So there’s not one distinctive Egyptian way of life. My own words to live by: keep smiling and carry on. You can’t please everyone, so you might as well stay positive, keep moving and, by all means, be loud.

If I book you as a freelance creative director for a project, what can I expect? What skills do you bring to the table, and how do you choose creatives, photographers, and directors for collaborations? If you book me as a freelance CD, you can expect a tailored approach that truly connects with your audience. I pay close attention to every detail to ensure the visual language fits the brand personality, target audience, and up-to-the-minute trends. I handle projects intelligently to keep costs and budget low while maintaining a polished brand look and feel.

As for choosing my creative partners, I look for individuals who can shake things up, contribute fresh ideas, and are not just going to nod along with everything. I enjoy working with people who challenge my own ideas and are not afraid of trying new things.

I’m excited about the future and continuing to push creative boundaries. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it is to always stay curious and open to new ideas. I appreciate the support, and I am looking forward to collaborating with more great talent around the world.

We have a selection of his work for you here on GoSee – and to see further projects and campaigns by Mahmoud, simply follow the link below. Yes, in case you are wondering, Mahmoud is also fluent in German.

GoSee : mahmoud-fathy.com
 

 
Featuring: +1
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China ID Crozz - Futurist

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen China T-Cross

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID CROZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

Mahmoud Fathy for Volkswagen ID BUZZ

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

Mahmoud Fathy for Golf Variant - Volkswagen

 
Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

 
Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

 
Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

 
Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

 
Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

Mahmoud Fathy (Logo design & Brand consulting) for 3elm.com : A group of young interdisciplinary scientist and designers with a vision to simplify science content for the Egyptian speaking community in the world.

 
Mahmoud Fathy, freelance Creative Director Art & Design

Mahmoud Fathy, freelance Creative Director Art & Design

 
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