19-year-old Syrian battled war with designs
We’ve gotten to know Asaad Sabouni from Aleppo, Syria quite a bit. At just 19, he has already been through a lot.
Alongside millions of other Syrians, Asaad had to stand by absolutely powerless as war tore through the country. His city, Aleppo, was hit particularly hard. The scale of Syria’s destruction is staggering and heart-breaking. However, he found a way to cope and followed his passion for design despite the war happening right in the streets.
In this interview, Asaad shares his long and incredible journey in design and surviving the war in Aleppo Syria, which inspired him to keep on going:
To give our readers some context, could you please tell us what life was like in Aleppo when you were designing?
The past 8 years were really hard for each and every single person in Aleppo. We’ve all had to struggle endlessly and I wouldn’t wish this to happen to anyone else. No electricity, lack of drinking water, food, schools, internet and most importantly, safety. We had to dig wells in order to drink and study in local schools which were built in small houses in residential areas.We couldn’t go out because the bombs were just everywhere. It felt just like some unreal Hollywood movie with people fleeing or dying. Thankfully, the situation is better now and hopefully, Syria will return to being how it once was.
How and when did you get into design? What was the motivation for you to start?
It’s a funny story actually. In 2014, my dad bought me my first ever phone. It was a Samsung Galaxy Fame and I was really excited. Rather than downloading games, I downloaded a lot of photo editing apps to edit photos, add filters, and text and call it “graphic design”. Even though I cringe now, I used to be very proud of my work. This is what initially got me hooked. After a year of doing this, my dad bought me the iPhone 4S. On the App Store, I found more photo editing and design tools. Everything changed when I found Vectornator. It was really easy to use, had all the features I and I’ve stuck with it ever since when designing.
How has Design helped you cope with the harsh environment in Syria?
In the past few years, we couldn’t go out of the house much. I really wanted to learn and didn’t want to waste my time on just movies and games. I also wanted something to make me forget about the war and get thrown into hard times. When I design, that’s all I think about. So, designing and actually, Vectornator really helped me. I used to spend hours on the app and it helped me pass the time.
What kind of designer are you? UI? UX? Illustrator?
So, I actually like all aspects of design and just try to make everything that interests me. When I first started, I wanted to improve how ads looked in Syria. Now, I prefer to just call myself a graphic designer as a broad term because I make logos, advertisement material, typography pieces, UI/UX, and Illustrations so it’s hard for me to choose my favourite.
What impact would you say has Design had on you as a person?
I learned that nothing is impossible. I met a lot of designers and when I tell them that I design using my iPhone, they laugh. But they are shocked when I show them my designs. Now, I have a job and I’m working as a graphic designer for 2 companies only using is my iPhone, I created many logos for many people just with Vectornator X.
What’s your favorite feature?
It’s really hard to choose what is my favorite feature because I really like everything in the app and I use pretty much everything. If I had to just say one, I’d say I like the Pen Tool a lot as it’s really easy to use and very helpful. I can create specific shapes with it or I can cut out a shape from a photo. Also, I like the double tap to undo and triple tap to redo, it really makes the whole process easier and faster.
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
Usually, it comes from browsing the “For You” section on Instagram. I find a lot of cool stuff there that’s tailored towards me and can discover creative designers. I also check Dribbble.
Who are your favorite illustrators?
My favorite artist is Gal Shir! I really like his style and I think his creative personality really shines through in his work. I also like Kareem Mrghani. He is really talented and I like his work with Arabic Typography and Logos.
What’s your goal for the future?
I’m not fully sure yet. For now, I’m thinking of making videos on how to use the Vectornator app in Arabic cause a lot of people asked me to teach them how to get into designing. Eventually, I would like to open my own marketing company here in Syria. I really want to improve the way things are done here and give young creatives a platform to have an impact and make their dreams come true.
What would you like to say to anyone that will read your story?
Well, firstly, I would like to thank them for taking the time to read. Secondly, I would say do what you like and don’t listen to the critics. Just listen to your heart because no one knows what’s right for you except you. I remember my mum once making fun of me and saying that no one would pay money for my designs. Now I’m making money out of it and both my Mom and I are really happy.
Thank you Asaad for doing an interview with us! Anything else you would like to say?
I really want to thank you guys for reaching out to me. Also, I want to thank every person in the Vectornator team for working hard to make this app because it has helped me through a lot and literally changed my life. I’ve been able to use it when wanting to forget about the war, improve my skills and now become a professional. I really don’t know what I’d do without Vectornator.If you would like to check out Asaad’s work or get in touch with him, click here!