We interviewed one of Egypt’s most promising talents in the world of caricature drawings, Dalia William, a young graphic designer who draws caricature for freelance. We had a chit chat about how she started off and what it is like to be a caricature artist in Egypt. It came as a surprise when we learned how she was first introduced to this field, as it was a story as funny as her drawings.
Q: Where do you work currently?
A: I’m a graphic designer in an event planning company that also has two publications which I draw for. And I’m a freelance designer and caricature artist.
Q: When did you first feel that you had a passion towards drawing caricatures?
A: I’ve always had a passion for drawing in general hence I went to fine arts but it was there that I discovered that I can actually draw caricatures! It started off with drawing a professor I really hated and who bored me to death in his lectures so I had nothing better to do than draw him! But it was Dr. Nagy Shaker who truly discovered me… I was drawing him and his assistant and my friends took the drawings from me, passed them around and everyone started laughing so he called me up front to see what all the fuss was about and I remember thinking that this is probably the most trouble I’ll ever get into with a professor! But to my utter surprise he loved the drawing, laughed at it, gave me his business card and some homework and he told me to finish it and come over to his office. I went to his office with the drawings he asked for and he sent me over to the editor of "Sabah el Kheir" magazine.
Q: What was the first drawing you ever had published?
A: Well the first drawing was of a little girl holding a lantern because it was during Ramadan but it wasn’t a caricature. Bureaucracy got in the way of me drawing regularly in "Sabah el Kheir".
Q: How did you become a well-known caricaturist?
A: Well when I was still in college I posted an ad in a gift shop near my home but I didn’t deal with the clients directly they left their pictures in the gift shop and I picked them up from the owner, drew them and handed the drawings back to the gift shop. And the other thing was when my brother and his friends opened up ethos café in Maadi and started holding out events there and I worked with them as their live entertainment going around the café and drawing the people there, and I got to meet a lot of people who asked for my number to contact me for other caricature deals.
Q: Whom did you draw for before becoming professional?
A: Well I sold a lot of paintings while I was in high school, freelanced in guestbook designing, t-shirt designing, accessories designing…well in short anything that has to do with design! And then I illustrated a book as a favor to a friend and the publisher called me up after and I’ve been drawing and designing for "Malamih" publishing house since then. And then college ended so I had to get a real job.
Q: What does your family think of your job? Were they supportive from the very beginning?
A: When it comes to caricatures they bless it as long as I’m doing it as a side thing, as for design I don’t think they really get what I do and to be honest anyone who doesn’t know how designing works thinks the same way…as designers we don’t take the pictures we use and we don’t write the text we use so to a lot of people we don’t actually do much! But yes I have to admit they’ve been pretty supportive of me and when I had a choice between fine arts and medicine they weren’t the typical Egyptian type and they let me follow my passion.
Q: What are you planning to do next regarding your talent?
A: My caricatures are starting to spread and I’ve never known the power of word of mouth till a couple of months ago…as people I don’t know took my number from people I hardly know to call me up for caricatures! And on the other hand I’ve known the power of “Facebook” for so long but never thought of using it to my advantage till a month ago, where I set up my official group "Creative Caricatures" and it’s been doing really good and who knows what’ll happen from here I might turn this to a full time job!
Q: Is there someone in the field of caricature drawing whom you consider your role model or whom you specifically admire his/her works?
A: Chris Rommel, who I’m sure you all know as his caricatures have been circulating our inboxes for years now. And he’s an amazing person as well as an artist, I sent him an email a year ago and asked him to check my work if he ever had the time and to my surprise I found his reply and tips the very next day and we emailed each other back and forth for a while and it struck me how he was so simple and unpretentious in his way, even though this man has won the "Caricaturist of the World" award two years in a row.
Q: Do you think caricature drawing in Egypt has its fair share of importance?
A: In Egypt editorial cartoons are the only well known type of caricature, where as portrait caricatures don’t earn their fair share of attention. And I always have to explain the difference between the two when asked about my caricatures.
Q: Can a caricature drawing influence the way people think?
A: I think editorial caricatures do that in an obvious way, but I actually believe that all types of art can influence how people think even ones that simply make you smile.
Q: Do you follow caricatures done outside Egypt?
A: Only the artists I like and some of the political editorial caricatures that create certain controversies worldwide.
Q: If you could draw a caricature making fun of something about the reality in Egypt, what would that thing be?
A: Actually I just did and it was of a gas pump flying off as a rocket in the sky right beside the ghost of the 30% raise and with the numbers 90,92 and 95 stroked off and only the numbers 99.9 showing on the pump!
Q: Could we regard caricature as a method to send indirect messages to people?
A: Why indirect? I don’t think it can be any more direct than that! I think caricatures really cut to the chase, I mean you can read a whole page in a newspaper and then find the exact same message all expressed in a single 9*6 cm rectangle using simple lines!
Q: Do you remember a caricature drawing that really made you laugh? What was it?
A: Well there was a recent one of Dr. Ahmed Nazif, our Prime Minister, saying that ‘yes gas prices are sky rocketing and yes cigarettes’ prices have risen but "Menu el Khamsa Lesa be Khamsa" (the very successful Mc Donald’s slogan!)