Assil Diab, is a Sudanese visual artist, graphic designer and graffiti artist based in Doha, Qatar. She is the first female graffiti artist emerging from Qatar and Sudan. Assil graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphics Design. She also holds a diploma in Digital Marketing and a Diploma in Advanced Social Media Marketing & ORM.

Known as ‘Sudalove’, today her work consists of mixed media and painting canvases using nothing but spray paint, “Graffiti on Canvas”. Assil’s first solo graffiti project was with SDI Marketing in Qatar where she was commissioned to paint at the Renaissance Hotel in Qatar for Cirque Eloize’s Press Conference. One of her great achievements  was when she  joined internationally known French-Tunisian artist El Seed in a Calligraffiti Project to paint one of the largest graffiti projects in the world in the Salwa Road Tunnels.

 

Feature photograph by: Ahmed Shaheen  


 

I’m a very quite person in general but once I start talking, it’s through that can Click To Tweet

Assil DiabPhotograph by: Tariq Mohammed Al-Fatieh

When you are tagging you are basically speaking to the world through street art. From the responses you have had so far do people actually get the message?

Being an Arab, Muslim female painting the streets is not always applauded. I’m a very quite person in general but once I start talking, it’s through that can.Graffiti is visually appealing because it is public art. It’s literally putting your art, thoughts, and feelings in people’s faces. Public art has the power to evoke thought and start dialogues. It is my way of communicating with society.

 

Tell us about the very first time you decided to hit the walls. What was the first tag and how was it received?

I started doing making art on paper and painting on t-shirts and shoes in my early teens. Then about three years ago, at the age of 25, I began taking it up as a profession.

I used to see graffiti everywhere while riding the metro in New York- where I was doing my internship as a photographer & graphic designer in Brooklyn. I was fascinated by graffiti, with all its shapes and colors. I loved what I was seeing on the streets and I wanted to be a part of it.

I’ve always liked challenging myself to see what I could do. So in 2013 I joined Public Works Authority ‘Ashghal’ and Qatar Museums Authority. I joined on a 4-month long internship to assist Tunisian-French calligraphist, El Seed, in painting the Salwa Road Tunnels; and that’s where I picked up a spray can for the first time.

I have never put the spray can down since those intense 4 months of graffiti. My first exhibition was in VCU-Q Bookstore where I sold 9 paintings of 13 in just two days. The paintings were painted using nothing but spray paint aka “Graffiti on Canvas”. I later switched my signature from my original name assil.diab to SudaLove. Which is my way of expressing my love and represents my home country, Sudan.

 

Assil DiabPhotograph by: Ahmed Shaheen Â 

There can be negative connotations associated with graffiti. What do you wish people knew?

Graffiti is not just for men. It’s not all about hip-hop, or gang-related, and it doesn’t have to be illegal. Most people don’t take it seriously and fail to see it as a profession. In fact, most of my work is commissioned, so I do get paid for it.

Also, often, people confuse mural art for graffiti or vice versa. There is a difference. There are no governing laws or rules to graffiti. Graffiti Is faster/quicker. But, there’s a lot of thought process & sketching when it comes to mural art, also, you don’t tend to use only spray paint when painting a mural.

 

Do you ever collaborate?

I’m working on a collaboration right now actually. I’m working with three local artists painting Aspire in Doha, Qatar. The first time I worked with these guys was in December 2016 painting in Katara. Besides these two collaborations I have only done exhibition collabs- where we all showcased our work on canvas in a particular hotel or gallery.

 

Assil DiabPhotograph by: Tariq Mohammed Al-Fatieh

Approximately how much time do you devote to art?

From the time I wake to whenever I need to go back to sleep. If I am not painting, I’m thinking about a sketch way before it needs to go up on a wall or canvas. My surroundings are full of art. I spend even more time looking at art, visiting museums, galleries, events, sketching and writing emails at least two hours a day talking about art. Or responding to emails that involve or commission artwork.

Even on the days when I don’t feel creative, I still have a consistent work ethic Click To Tweet

Are you still working on fashion as well?

Yes, I get special, sometimes unusual requests for T-shirt designs. As a fashion designer, I do not specialize in one category of apparel- I hand paint T-shirts, shoes and hats. I’m also working on a collection of Sudanese women’s “teyabs” using contemporary designs for the younger generation.

In 2010, I worked as an intern fashion photographer at Katya Moorman’s Style Defined NYC in Brooklyn, New York. I was also assisting with the design of the marketing materials for Better Than Kate, an award winning street style blog.

In addition to taking various courses in fashion design, my graphic design degree provides the required skills for fashion.

Assil DiabPhotograph by: Tariq Mohammed Al-Fatieh

What is your creative process is like?

I practice a lot of sketching in my little black book. Sometimes I’ll scan a sketch and enhance it on illustrator or a similar program. Sketching helps me grow and develop. I get inspired by everything – religion, politics, travel, culture, earth, feelings and reading.

When I’m interested in developing a new technique in graffiti, specifically, I go out and find a wall to practice on until it’s mastered. Even on the days when I don’t feel creative, I still have a consistent work ethic. My creativity is lead by my emotions and feelings at that particular time.

I’m also very easily distracted. I spend more time trying to discipline myself to get back into a particular artistic mind state, rather than the actual execution of the artwork. I remain involved with my imagination in an hourly and daily manner. I try to stay connected with everything and anything that inspires me- that way my creativity finds it’s way into a canvas.


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