Eldin, who provides the artwork for Publius Enigma, has been much busier than you think since 2014...
Ed Lopez-Reyes: Ahmed, since Pink Floyd's The Endless River, you've worked on a number of other album covers - can you tell us about some other artists you've worked with and was the process and experience different working for these other bands?
Ahmed Emad Eldin: Creating art for albums is always a great thing to do. If I’m creating artwork for a film, there is a visual and a story already there that you have to capture in one composition. But music is different: you have to feel it - and that’s all!
I've worked with MONO, from Japan; they're considered one of the most important bands in the post-rock genre. I've also worked with Hamza Namira, he is a megastar in Egypt and the Arab world. And I've worked with Massar Egbari: they're a great Egyptian rock band - and heavily influenced by Pink Floyd!
Pink Floyd will always be a favorite project for me. I adore their music and how their lyrics create mental landscapes for us.
ELR: What are some of the projects you've worked on since 2014 in terms of movie posters and book covers?
AEE: I've worked on a lot of movie posters and book covers in recent years. I received a Best Poster Award for Heavy Rain, a short film, at the Oniros Film Awards. I also worked on Stray and Mako (the first Egyptian shark movie). All the posters are on my website, under the key art section and the album art, on the album art section! [Links are included below].
ELR: When someone approaches you about a project, do they usually try to find work you've already done and ask you to license its use or do they ask you to design things from scratch? When you are hired to do work from scratch, how is the process different? It's not your own, innate inspiration, so you have to find inspiration somehow, right? Is that a different process each time (finding inspiration to draft something that you were hired for, from scratch)?
AEE: It depends. Sometimes clients will get a feel for an existing item in my catalog and they can’t imagine choosing a different design. If an artist wants something from scratch, I'll listen to the album or watch the film and I'll also ask for a clear brief on the project. Then I start imagining the visuals and move into the process of design... and usually this works, but not always.
I don’t search for inspiration outside the film, album, or whatever I should create the artwork for: that drives my vision for it.
ELR: How do you feel your artwork has evolved over time? 2013's Beyond the Sky, which eventually became The Endless River, and 2015's Light, which was inspired by your now wife, are much brighter than a lot of your other artwork: what do you feel drives your choice of colors and hues and do you feel your work has evolved in that respect over the years?
AEE: Definitely! That’s 100% true. When you grow up you start to feel a lot more, you can visually translate your feelings with greater depth. I’m sure that after (and since) falling in love my art has evolved a lot, because now there is a real life story that inspires my artwork... and at times more imaginatively than before.
ELR: Do you specifically explore dusk and nighttime - and dark contexts like space - more often on purpose? How do you feel this echoes your interests, personality, and influences?
AEE: I love dark and night visuals and find them more visceral. That’s why I translate that into my work... but not my life. I’m a normal person: I love to laugh a lot - which is not 100% compatible with my style; it’s just my personal favourite space to explore artistically . My approach also depends on my clients' needs for the work that has been commissioned.
ELR: Walk me through the process of Beyond the Sky becoming The Endless River: Beyond the Sky features a blue boat and a man standing at the tip of that boat; The Endless River features a brown boat and a man stand-up paddling in the boat. Did you have any input in the process of re-conceptualizing the artwork for the Pink Floyd album cover? Did Pink Floyd's team work with you on that design evolution or did they take the concept and make changes as they saw fit?
AEE: Pink Floyd took my concept as it was and they didn’t change anything! Which is amazing and a good thing for them to do. They only changed the person, boat, and the sky to fit the Louder than Words video. The overall concept is the same.
ELR: You've finished your university studies since The Endless River: what is your degree in and what type of degree do you have? Do you plan to work in that field?
AEE: My degree is a Bachelors and it's in Pharmaceutical Sciences. I don’t plan to work with it but I love the medical field because my father is a physician.
ELR: You also served in the military: is it compulsory in Egypt and what was that experience like? Is it tough having an artistic mind in such a structured environment? Did most people in the military understand your background as an artist? Did people know who you are?
AEE: It’s compulsory, yes. It was really tough but I can’t lie: I enjoyed it. I met some really nice personalities there and some of them knew me and my work which was amazing indeed! Some of them understood my artistic background and some didn’t understand it at all.
ELR: Having a mix of the professional education your university studies gave you, your experience as an artist, and your experience in the military: how do you see the future panning out for you? Do you plan to devote yourself fully to art at this point? Do you have any additional military obligations?
AEE: I don’t have any military obligations anymore. I will keep working as an artist and will keep an eye out for the matching opportunities.
ELR: You recently got married - is your wife artistic too? How did you meet her and what does she think of all the responsibilities you juggle?
AEE: She is a pharmacist as well, we met in university and she works as a content creator in the medical field. She understands how much responsibility I manage and, actually, she helps me a lot.
ELR: The artwork Light was inspired by your wife. Did you create that when you met her or over time?
AEE: It was when I met her, maybe after a little while... but yes, I became inspired when I understood the feelings I have for her.
ELR: What do you think of NFTs? Are NFTs a fad or do you feel NFTs are here to stay? Is it a market you and other artists care to get into? How is owning an NFT of a piece of digital art so different from just paying for the file and downloading it? What makes that file unique? It seems controlling digital content isn't that easy. Do you think the NFT space is going to change the art world?
AEE: NFTs are here to stay and it’s definitely a revolutionary thing that has already changed the world. And a lot of artists are keen to get involved in this! When you own an NFT it’s like getting a photo print of the Mona Lisa - but not the original one from the original artist's hand: the original piece would have a unique token to represents it! NFTs are already changing the world.
ELR: What is next for you? Do you have any new projects you want to tell us about?
AEE: I’m currently working with Wacom as their Middle East Ambassador, which is something great, of course, and planning to do more personal and commercial art. Lately, I've worked on a lot of films - producing their posters - some of them are out and some are going to be out soon!