How did you first get involved in art?
Well, I’ve been drawing since I was a toddler. In fact, it was my kindergarten teacher who first told my parents that I’d grow up to become an artist one day. I grew up reading comic books and playing video games, both of which were my main influences for the longest time. I’ve also had a longtime fascination with history and mythology. “Fine Art” and its offshoots was something I wasn’t to discover until much, much later. Not until my late 20’s really. In the meantime, though, I became quite versed in design, typography, and commercial illustration. First time I ever showed my art in an exhibition was in 2007, aged 25. I’d mark that as my first official involvement in what might be acknowledged as proper Art. From then on I got more involved in the Cairo Art scene. By 2008, I did my first Artist Residency abroad, in the Netherlands to be specific, followed by another one in Poland, Germany, and more. These were wholly informative, and definitely helped very quickly expose me to Contemporary Art and the people who practice it.
What is your story of migration? How does your background shape your work?
I moved to the U.S. in 2014 without much of a plan, which I generally wouldn’t advise. A commentator on Egyptian TV made false accusations against me as a result of my political street-art, after which I just picked up and left before it could snowball into anything major. I landed in New York where I lived for a year before making the move to LA to reunite with my bride to be. After a couple of years there, we spent two years in Denver and now Houston, mainly for her work. Constantly moving sucks and is also something I don’t advise. Unless your art is exclusively digital (which mine isn’t), it is really difficult to make art that way.
On the other hand, it’s given me the opportunity to see and live with different aspects of America. I’m sure my background shapes my work in more ways than one; my multiculturalism, my extensive travel, and my experiences with revolution and authoritarianism all find a way into most anything I do.
What do you find most rewarding about what you do?
That it’s more often than not, exactly what I want to do, how I want to do it, when I want to do it. Ultimately, my work’s intention is to express myself.
What advice do you have for others wanting to follow a similar path?
Time waits for no one, don’t waste it, and make sure everything you do matters. Anyone who gets in the way of your valuable time keeps you from doing what matters (most of all what matters to you. What *truly* matters to you). Too many creative people flock to industries that utilize their art in service of the consumer culture sowed by capitalists, essentially creating propaganda to entice people to spend money on shit they don’t need and wouldn’t have cared for otherwise, all while sucking the planet dry of its resources. It’s sad, vile, and downright evil if you ask me. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.
Also, never stop learning. Once you’ve stopped learning, you’re as good as dead to be honest. It generally implies either a narrow mind or a joyless life as far as I’m concerned.
Egypt Migrations is always looking for people to contribute to our digital initiatives. Please contact email@example.com if you would like to join or support the organization.
Described as a “chameleon” by Carlo McCormick in the New York Times, Ganzeer operates seamlessly between art, design, and storytelling, creating what he has coined: Concept Pop. His medium of choice according to Artforum is “a little bit of everything: stencils, murals, paintings, pamphlets, comics, installations, and graphic design.” Egyptian born, he now lives in Houston, Texas. Find him at ganzeer.com