Could you introduce yourself?
I am Nader Sharaf, a guy from Madrid who decided to become an illustrator after visiting all the art exhibitions that his high school art teachers suggested him to see. It was at that particular time when I discovered that sensitivity could be released in the form of art and with the only intervention of one’s own emotions. Later on, illustration turned out to be my means of expression because it entailed a more intimate work procedure in which formats and supports are worked in a smaller scale, with no need for large studios or big amounts of money to get the materials: just the desire to create something powerful with the minimum.
What’s your life philosophy? How do you try to apply that to your work?
I don’t think I have any. I simply prefer to let life change my mind as the years go by. Maybe the only thing that remains unalterable is my desire to thrill others. The way I apply that to my work is by using my intuition as a guide. Everybody experiences emotions, which are more universal than we think. Emotions are neither created nor destroyed, only transformed. What I try to do is capture an emotion and transform it into a piece. Then someone receives it (and that might encourage him to create another piece under the same emotion).
Perhaps, nowadays my life philosophy consists of telling me every day “enjoy this moment as if it was the last, and do not lose the ability to amaze yourself by thinking that life is a miracle and you are a part of it”.
Could you tell us what you think makes you stand apart in the art industry?
I don’t know it, I’ve never really thought about something like that… I’ve never worked for that purpose, at least not consciously. I truly believe that your work will stand out as long as you’re sincere with yourself. In my opinion, the more you deliberately want to highlight, the less attention your work will finally get.
How would you describe your art style? Do you feel like it reflects you?
Perhaps my work tries to represent the senselessness of life and, at the same time, the fascination for existence, for its mysteries and for the theatricality of interpersonal relationships. I would love to have definitive answers for almost everything and, in lack thereof, drawing has become my own way of getting them.
For years, I have not been aware enough of how much my work reflects my passions and my concerns, my highs and lows. Until a few years ago, when there had been different people referring to my work as theatrical, surreal, poetical or whimsical. That’s when I’d realized how theatrical, surreal, poetic and quirky my mind really is. And that doesn’t stop growing as the years go by. I always say that we draw what we are, but at the same time we end up becoming what we draw. I suppose that’s the way artists can never escape their own universes. It's a kind of vicious circle that we love to feed.
What are a few tips for other artists that might be reading this?
Spend a lot of time alone trying to get to know yourself with the purpose of getting your own answers to this life and to this world. And do it without restrictions, fear or shame. It’s only in solitude where we can cultivate some of the most nutritious creative states for mind and spirit.
In addition, cultivate the fascination for everyday life.
In a more stylistic aspect, and as Oscar Wilde said “be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. Even if it seems the opposite, the world is always wanting a new approach to things, so do exploit what makes you different, your own unique way of contemplating life and telling stories. Work smart, not hard, and keep the commitment to yourself first and everybody will appreciate it.
If you had to choose any music album that captures the emotion of your work, what would it be and why?
Nowadays it would be ‘Adventures In Your Own Backyard’ by Patrick Watson. The entire record is insanely gorgeous, a masterpiece. It is full of inner freedom, extreme sensitivity and seems to build spaces where you can take shelter from the storms of life: death, worries, miscommunication, painful personal relationships... Its songs cannot save you from the pain, but they can offer you comfortable places to rest your aching head and hands. All of them seem to say “no matter how big your pain is: come in, sit down by the fire and tell me what makes you suffer. I listen to you carefully. That’s just what you need: to be listened to”.
What's one thing that has to do with art that others might not know about you?
I cannot stand the arrogance of artists.
Do you have any rituals you do before you start your creative process for a new project, to get your mind and energy in the right place?
I can only say that to me it’s important to visualize perfectly what I’m going to do, almost the finish line. Otherwise, I’ll be lost in the middle of the realization, crying because I have no clear idea of where I want to arrive. At the beginning of my career I would never make use of sketches before initiating a project, but for some time now I’ve made use of them because they make the task much easier in terms of composition, which is in my opinion one of the master keys of a successful artwork. Nature and its intelligence are a huge source of inspiration for me, as well as people’s inner life. That’s why I usually mix them in my work trying to create a connection, or a strong interaction that plays to a deeper level.
I encounter inspiration very randomly, sometimes just going out for a long walk.
What’s a typical day for you?
I wake up early in the morning and love having breakfast away from home while reading newspapers, magazines or simply watching the people go by, which is one of my favorite hobbies. I’m more productive from noon until late night. Consequently, my workday starts when all the daily errands have been done and, therefore, my time to create is entirely mine.
Even if I’m not working on a project, I sit at my desk everyday trying to shape different ideas or future projects I’m immersed in. At the end of the day, one of the things I like the most is walking around the city in order to get some air and to speak to myself.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee is one of the things I love most in life, not only for its taste, but specially for what it represents and the way it makes me feel: reward, introspection, time for myself, tranquility… For me the world stops when I enjoy a coffee, and nothing equals that feeling.
What are some of your goals for 2017?
Months ago I was hospitalized because of a stress episode. I broke down under the effects of too much work, so from now on I want to take it easy, to give relative importance to everything (my work in the first place) and just doing things the best I know and I can, and that will be enough. I’m not a Superman and I will not die trying to save the planet...
Besides that, I hope to continue having work, beautiful projects, to keep working with the same illusion as until now and to take more risks in my illustrations: my mind is changing and my work will inevitably have to do it too.
What makes you happy?
To be capable of successfully materializing an idea into an image, and to connect myself with others using my own language.
Any extraordinary artistic creation whether it is a film, a music album, a painting, a book… that makes my hair stand on end.
Any little information related to the Universe I hear or read makes my day.
The morning coffee out of home.
Any closing comments?
“We see as we want to see, and this falsity constitutes the art” Degas