Dutch-Egyptian illustrator behind Fanous

Artist Interview with Roeqiya Fris

What were you like as a child?

I was a cheerful girl who liked to play outside with friends, playing games and building huts. I also liked drawing, arts and crafts, and chatting.

Tell a story about a childhood experience that made you believe in art.

My father thought it was important for all his children to get into contact with arts, culture and music, so he took us to concerts and museums. In the museums and art exhibitions is where I got hooked on colors, thoroughly enjoying all the paintings, and it made me want to draw and paint myself. It was so inspiring, like a whole other world, or view on the world that was presented to me there.

What is the ideal viewer experience of your work? What do you want the viewer to feel?

I want to take the viewer to another world, another place, one that doesn't exist. Or maybe it does? A world with an abundance of plants and flowers, and colors of course. I want them to feel like they’ve travelled to Egypt and Morocco.

I really enjoy travelling to see and experience different colors, sounds and smells. I hope that by looking at my work, people can experience a little bit of that travelling feeling - to feel, if only for a moment, like they are in that other world, even though they are in their own bed, or living room.

Can you describe in detail your artistic process? And how do you clear your head to make room for creativity?

Interesting question. My head is always full. Full of ideas, because I get inspiration from everyday things - movies I watch, things I see in museums, gardens, people on the street, houses, cities.

Regarding the artistic process, I usually start with a certain theme I have in my head. When I have that theme, I can see the things that fit with it everywhere. I collect them on my phone, taking photos of things, and screenshots. So I make like a mini-collage on my phone, and from there I make a first sketch. Always in black and white, with a pencil. When the contours, shapes and settings are there, the base scene has been built. From there on, it’s onto the colouring phase, to add different layers of colours and details, with markers, pencils and gouache, whichever medium best matches the scene. Often I use multiple layers and different techniques to get the atmosphere and colour warmth I'm looking for.

Describe your favorite communal experience, something that you enjoy doing in a group. What makes it special?

Eating and dancing together, especially with my sisters (I have 3 sisters). What makes it special is that we communicate and express ourselves in different languages, not only verbally, but also emotionally, and through body language (dance). It can really deepen connections.

Describe the sights, smells, sounds and feelings of a Dutch or Egyptian tradition you love.

Definitely the celebrations at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan, called the Eid-al-Fitr. In Dutch, we call it "suikerfeest," literally translated as sugarfest. Quite a fitting name, with all the sweets and candy my mother baked for that day. It was really festive, everybody got presents, new clothing, and the house was all cleaned, tidied and decorated. As a child, you got money from the family, and we would all dream about the pretty things we were going to buy. It really was a special celebration, for both the adults and the children.


Headshot Photo courtesy of Roeqiya Fris.


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