Arleb by Nabad interviews architect, urban designer, and a self-taught Illustrator based in Beirut Zarifi Haidar Marín. Zarifi has worked on a couple of award-winning children’s books. She is passionate about art and design and spends most of her free time taking photos, creating, drawing, and doodling.
Arleb by Nabad – What is the experience that has influenced your work the most?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – It is very hard to point out one particular experience. I think everything is cumulative and every experience matters, even the ones that might seem insignificant to many. But if I have to pick one, the first thing that comes to my mind is depression (because it was thanks to it that I started illustrating in the first place).
“A doodle a day keeps the psychologist away” has been my favorite motto for a long time. A few years ago, I started doodling as a way of expressing my frustrations, worries, and even my anxieties. I doodled almost every day, everywhere and anywhere; and, thanks to this practice, I learned to create something funny out of the events that are pulling me down. Today, I see the world in colors. I do not only try to find the bright side of things, but I invent it if I cannot find it and I encourage others to do the same.
Arleb by Nabad – Which subjects or themes are you working on?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – Children’s books about nature and cultural heritage.
Arleb by Nabad – What is your creative process like?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – All my illustrations are personal observations and direct expressions of how I feel and think. Inspiration can be very unpredictable; thus, I carry with me a small sketchbook all the time and write down/sketch on it anything I find interesting, inspiring, and worth exploring. For practical reasons, a lot of my work is done on small sketchbooks or pieces of paper, using fine-liners, markers, and colored pencils (which are tools I carry with me all the time). Other times, I draw directly on photographs, using my smartphone or iPad. And, whenever enough time and space are available, I experiment with larger scales and different mediums.
Arleb by Nabad – What was the impact of the Beirut port explosions (August 4, 2020) on your work as an artist/creative enterprise?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – After the explosions, I found it very difficult to think about producing any new artworks. I needed a practical and quick way to help people on the ground and, being an architect, my first solution was to do so through architecture. Yet, a couple of weeks later, I came up with some new works as a way of collecting funds for reparation works and supporting the work of various NGOs.
Arleb by Nabad – What are, according to you, the roles of arts and culture in social, economic, environmental, or political change?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – Arts and culture can help people connect to each other. It can help us be more aware, interested, and involved in social, economic, environmental, or political changes happening worldwide. Also, they play a vital role in maintaining our identity through time and despite conflicts and disasters.
Arleb by Nabad – What are, according to you, the main challenges/obstacles facing artists/creative enterprises in Lebanon nowadays?
Zarifi Haidar Marín – The country’s political instability and its economic crisis; everything in here is difficult, even the simplest of things (such as opening an online shop/PayPal account/selling in USD). Many artists and creatives are leaving and they cannot be blamed.