In the article series “Inspiring Muslim Artist” you will be introduced to artists that are a source of inspiration to me. Hoping that they will provoke your senses and perhaps make you appreciate art a little bit more.
Meet the artist
As you’ve read the name of this article’s artist is Cheb Moha and no he isn’t a Rai singer like Cheb Khaled. Cheb Moha is a real polymath poet, a photographer, a designer – he does it all. In this article the main focus will be put on his photography and street wear brand. He was born in Bagdad, grew up in Libya moved to Canada and at the moment he has been travelling for a year and a half, he started his journey in Kuwait and is currently in Dubai. He learned many things from it and he also found a source of inspiration for his art.
Street wear brand
His street wear brand ‘Shabab’ or ‘Shabab al mustaqbal’ (Youth of the future). For all of you who grew up with Space Toon, their slogan was an inspiration for his brand name.
Feeling nostalgic already?
He started of by making just hats and beanies, but his travelling encouraged him to work on several items at once and to really create a collection. Once in a while he collaborates with other artists. His main focus is to create something you can relate to as an Arab, a streetwear brand that’s authentic and a brand that represents today’s youth especially focusing on the Middle East and North Africa.
When seeing this picture, the first thing that came to my mind: East meets West because of the clothing combination. But on the contrary to Cheb Moha it defines who he is and because he travelled to different places, it had an impact on the looks he creates. He says that it may look conceptual but to him it’s quite in contact with reality. Maybe some Arabs find it weird that he dressed the model with a ‘wizar’ (the wrap around the waist) but others can find it cool, conceptual or fashionable. But to him this is what he sees as practical.
His main activity is photography; first he took pictures with a digital camera but what he saw wasn’t in sync with the pictures he took. So he switched to film camera and let me tell you the results are amazing. He finds film cameras more powerful because no photoshop is used. The photos he takes seem to be very cinematic, they have a bit of life to them and he thinks you can only achieve this by using an analogue camera. In his photos you can also see that he styles his models. Styling for him is another way to portray the images in his head.
One of his photography projects is called PROJECTFILMJOURNAL, it’s a page that shows street and fashion photography. At the moment he’s the only contributor but he hopes that when the page draws more attention he’ll get other contributors.
Photography for him is organic, it’s the language of the streets that he translates into photos. He doesn’t take random pictures but he tries to filter what intrigues him, so when he creates something it really has a meaning and isn’t just a nice picture or something he created because of a hype. This is why he’s always walking around with a couple of cameras, because he gets a lot of inspiration.
He wants to keep creating because it’s a form of communication and dialogue is a must. He tries to use as many tools around him as possible to express his being.
In 5 years from now he hopes to still have the same mindset he has now. He wants to achieve more than being known on Instagram. He hopes that one day he’ll be a photographer for National Geographic. Let’s all make dua that he achieves this one day, lol.
His mantra is the following passage of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist.
“What you still need to know is this: before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.’
“Every search begins with beginner’s luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.”