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Dina Saadi

Dina Saadi

Meet visual artist from Dubai, Dina Saadi.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Moscow & raised in Syria for a Russian mom & Syrian Dad. I have a BA in fine arts and I was a graphic designer/ art director for a few years before becoming a full-time artist/ muralist. My inner child has an important role in my life & take many decisions for me (especially art-related). I travel the world to paint murals and add color to people’s daily strolls throughout their cities & neighborhoods.
I believe in the vital role that public art plays in urban spaces and the impact it adds to people’s lives. I see it as a force that transcends beauty on so many levels.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.
Dubai was the first place where I started my art career and when I was recognized for the first time as an Artist.
It is somehow ironic and funny that I had my first public art experience in a city like Dubai! I tried to paint with a spray can at an event once and fell in love with it ever since!
I found it easier than I expected and started experimenting and painting more and more and the scale grew bigger. This became a wild journey with me traveling to different places and painting outdoors in many cities around the world.
In Syria, where I used to live before, I didn’t really feel like I could make a living doing art, and I guess that might be one of the main reasons for me to choose graphic design career over painting in my university years. I’ve always painted and drawn since the early years of my life but in the back of my head I never had the courage to think I can make a living out of it, and I was never exposed to street art or murals back in Syria.

 

It is somehow ironic and funny that I had my first public art experience in a city like Dubai! I tried to paint with a spray can at an event once and fell in love with it ever since!

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?
Living in Dubai taught me a lot. I gained so much experience in my field and in life & business because of living in this fast moving crazy city! I also love living next to the beach with never-ending sunshine! The heat does not bother me as much as cold weather in other countries! I think I get my energy from the sun and the sea so I cannot deny loving that part of Dubai! It is also the place where most of my friends & family are so I don’t get to feel lonely.
The part I do not like much about being an artist here is the overly commercial approach that I lately see in treating art as a commodity or just like a product or another ‘branding element’ at events.
When almost everything is driven by money and money only, the value of the art, the artist’s integrity, the quality of the work and the creative freedom are all not a priority compared to the instant gains and unfortunately shortsighted goals.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.
– Hustle
– People make art scenes not cities
– Always be true to yourself

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?
Yes as I come from an art-loving family and my mom is also an artist. As a hyperactive kid, there’s nothing that could make stick to one place better than a plain paper and colorful crayons and my mum used that quite often!

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I want to learn and take my art to the next level. To keep exploring, painting murals all over the world, participating in street art projects/festivals, art exhibitions and trying new techniques, mediums or even materials.

 

I want to learn and take my art to the next level. To keep exploring, painting murals all over the world, participating in street art projects/festivals, art exhibitions and trying new techniques, mediums or even materials.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?
I don’t have a specific name in mind but I’m always open for collaborations.

 

How would you describe the women around you?
Strong, smart, lively, fighters, survivors, and badass.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?
Actually, there were barely any female creatives that I looked up growing up in Syria.
First, because we didn’t have street art, to begin with, and I didn’t even think it’s possible to survive as a full-time artist!
I was always inspired and pushed by my mom to do art but when I was young I didn’t see any female role models in my field, and I only started discovering amazing female artist years after when I was an adult.
Actually, one of my drives to excel in my career is to show young people from my country, Syria, and other developing countries that despite all the hardships and challenges, you can still pursue your passion and reach your potential.

 

Actually, one of my drives to excel in my career is to show young people from my country, Syria, and other developing countries that despite all the hardships and challenges, you can still pursue your passion and reach your potential.

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?
There are always challenging aspects of just being a FEMALE!
What I mean is; being a female street artist, in particular, might not be a challenge. The challenge, in my opinion, is the fact that women face inequality and discrimination in all fields! However, the extra thing in painting in public is being an easy target for harassment and catcalling sometimes. Also many times I worry about my safety while painting in the streets and to be honest this is the one thing I never had to worry about living and working in Dubai!
There is also still a pay gap in many fields between men and women, I recently participated in a project called “The Art Gap” that was about this specific point, all artists in this project/ exhibition were female and painted 47.6% only of each canvas, which is how much they get paid compared to male artists according to recent study, Using 1.5 million auction transactions, the study revealed paintings by women sell, on average, for 47.6% less at auctions than the price that paintings by male artists fetch.

 

The most important advice ever is to enjoy the journey.

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?
Work really hard, be open & ready for learning, criticism, and failure, be humble but know your worth. Trust your gut and don’t let anyone convince you that you can’t do something because of your nationality, color, race, gender or any other limiting beliefs.
The most important advice ever is to enjoy the journey. You’ll have long nights and hard projects but if you don’t enjoy the process then what’s the point of doing it in the first place!

 

 

Photos courtesy of Dina Saadi.

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