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Mahi Tarek: Redefining the Status Quo

May Mansour talks girl power and fashion-fueled mixed medium creations with visual artist Mahi Tarek, hot off the heels of having her unique pieces showcased on giant billboards in New York's Time Square.

Mahi Tarek is a rebellious, Egyptian visual artist and illustrator. Her captivating works visually highlight the energy and fury of women, with a bit of a fashion and pop culture flair, creating mixed medium pieces, incorporating painting and text using various techniques surrounding the same liberal and colourful oeuvre. Tarek's artwork was recently showcased in New York’s Times Square and, in this exclusive interview, reveals her inspiration.

What materials do you use to create your paintings?

I started with acrylic paint then I began to create collages by painting on printed creations. Every once in a while, I change something in my technique. I like to experiment and explore new methods, surfaces and techniques.

Your themes are quite diverse although your style is relatively consistent, what are your inspirations?

My art declares what I’ m thinking. It pushes the boundaries of understanding and defining women. The theme is around strong, rebellious women that stand out.

“Create the things you wish existed,” is a quote on your Instagram account. What do you create in your artwork that you wish existed in real life? Other than insanely gorgeous women…

I try to create some of the things that we are missing. In my case that means bright colours, uniqueness, creativity and LIBERATION! It's about redefining the status quo.  

I truly am fascinated with the women in your artwork. Are they figments of your imagination or do you draw or feel inspired by real women?

I’ve always been into fashion, inspired by real women I find in fashion editorials. Women in fashion editorials are so powerful and creative, a lot of women everywhere look up to them.


A photo posted by mahi tarek (@mahi.tarek) on

Are there any subculture lifestyles that you particularly take interest in?

It’s as versatile as my art.


A photo posted by mahi tarek (@mahi.tarek) on

Last July you had one of your artworks showcased in Times Square as part of a massive animated collage. How did you land there?

I sent my artwork to SeeMe gallery in New York, and I was one of the artists who were chosen to have two of their paintings displayed on a massive billboard in the iconic square.

What are some of your other significant and favourite moments as an artist?

The first time I sold a painting.

Is your art being funded?

It’s not funded, but art should be funded because it gives the artist more resources to use and explore with. Having an investment gives an artist a sense that someone believes in them and gives an extra push to step outside the box.


#chiefofrosebud #rosebud #art #acryliconwood #native #feathers #pipe #painting #accessories #red #velvet

A photo posted by mahi tarek (@mahi.tarek) on

Do you consider your art a full-time job or do you work elsewhere?

I worked as the art director of Jumia’s private label and I’m currently working on a startup with another artist sharing the same vision and taste that is hard to find.

Any pre-painting rituals? 

I have to start any painting in the morning when there is sunlight and I listen to different music depending on the mood for the day.

And what things in life stand in the way of your creative process?

Producing the same thing over and over; it’s the discovery of what’s possible that’s the kick…

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve been given or would like to give as an artist?

To experiment a lot and to explore a little further than the obvious view that you initially see. I definitely believe that every experiment enables you to grow as an artist and make you more self-confident.

Any exhibitions running currently or in the near or distant future?

Currently no, but will have exhibitions in the near future.

Stay tuned to Mahi Tarek whose exhibitions we'll make sure to announce on her behalf once all is set in stone. In the meantime follow Mahi Tarek on her Instagram account.