David Habchy was born, potty-trained and raised in Lebanon. He was passionate about mixing photography, illustration, theater and music together so he ended up majoring in computer graphics and animation in Notre Dame University in Lebanon. A few months after he graduated he started giving courses in animation and illustration in the same university. Now, he is working as a freelancer in the attic of an old Lebanese house and eating vegetables in his spare time.
LR: Hi David.
DH: Marhaba Maroun
LR: Let me start by asking you, since your work is very eclectic, how do you describe your work?
DH: “Klekeesh”, or in other words bits and pieces of junk, was the way my father described my projects and tools that were constantly scattered around the house. With time, I realized that “Klekeesh” was a good description of my work since I experiment a lot through different techniques and mediums. I believe the choice of media can defer with respect to the idea I want to show. I like to have fun.
LR: Tell us a bit about your beginnings.
DH: When I was in school, I used to write Arabic calligraphy for the church. It was a good practice for my Arabic handwriting. But the first serious job was in the art department of a game company called Dijipen in Lebanon. This is where I was trained in character design and modeling. After graduating, I took part in a small animation team in BAN (Beirut Animation Network) where we used to work hard and train our asses off with tutorials. Our first project was a 3D video clip that was one of a kind in the middle east. We were responsible for the whole process of design and animation and it helped me become independent as a freelancer.
LR: Let me ask you about Haltabees. It is collaboration between you and Rania Saghir. Tell us more about this book.
DH: Haltabees is my first illustration book for children. I was not sure I could illustrate for children, but I always enjoyed observing their attitudes. Working on the book was quite joyful. Rania gave me all the freedom to illustrate her interesting story, which challenges the child’s imagination rather than being merely educational. I think that we need such surreal books in the Arab world.
We are currently working on another book to make Haltabees, the character, more and more alive and this was also my approach when I did the animated trailer for the book before it was published.
LR: You worked on the Animation of the Video clip for Ashikman “الحيطان عم تحكيني”, as well as Tania Saleh’s “Ya Wled” and “Ana Bhibbak” for Abir Nehme. Could you elaborate a little on the animation process and the work that went into the production?
DH: Working with underground Lebanese artists is always inspiring for me. The animation process for each of the three video clips is completely different. “Ana Bhebbak” was the first I did. I did everything about this video clip with Ashley Choukeir, and Soha Awwad. We had only two weeks to do it and we were full timers. So we shot everything in a weekend on my rooftop with limited equipment and a simple set. We went through all the digital animation and editing along the next week. This video was one of 14 others for the same Music DVD of Jean Marie Riachi done by different animators. “Ana Bhebbak” was chosen to be broadcasted. The Music DVD including the animations is available now.
I met the amazing Tania Saleh through my blog, and we discovered that we share a lot of spirit and thoughts so we insisted that I contribute to “Ya Wleid” video clip. I created new politicians mixing cutouts of different Lebanese politicians and animated them inside the tv’s that I designed on set. “Ya Wleid” was screened in the first Beirut Animation Festival this year.
Ashikman team are also designers and graffiti artists, so they did their own graphics based on Tarek Chemali’s book and asked me to do the animation with Alain Nasnas. An intense one week of animation on after effects trying to make pictures alive in order to document, through animation, the Lebanese street art scene.
LR: You know, it seems that you attend so many workshops on design and the visual arts in Lebanon, but the information on these workshops is scattered all around. How and where do you find these workshops? Could you advise the interested artists where to find them? (By the way, I would appreciate it if you could shoot me an email when a workshop is available, and I could post that on LebRecord. This way, artists could at least have one place to look for them)
DH: Well, to find a workshop in Lebanon you have to register in many mailing lists for embassies, NGOs, Associations, in addition to facebook where you can find some interesting groups that gather a lot of interesting information. I did a lot of workshops in different domains and it helped me socially and technically. Theater workshops, pantomime, clowning, comics, dancing, puppet making, DOP and many others helped me improve as an animator and illustrator. I will list some of the active references: Samandal Comic magazine, khayal association, Zico house, Studio Beirut, Zoukak, FDCD, Gothe institute.
LR: You have worked on a series of Ads for Tanmia. Tell us a bit about the chicken.
DH: First let me say “Bak bak”! An expression which contaminated a lot of people in my surrounding . I illustrated and animated the chicken with Ashley Choukeir as an advertising campaign for Tanmia with the agency Leo Burnett. The idea of a chicken that thinks it is a fish, a butterfly, an anchor, an ice cream… was too tempting for me to think of refusing the project considering I am vegetarian! I think this is why the chicken is so lovely and adorable!
Thanks to Tania, Wissam and Nayla from Leo Burnett, who took the initiative of doing a full animation and illustration Campaign that captivated a large audience.
LR: I have seen your illustrations for “يوميات فكرة مسروقة”, which I thought is a brilliant project. Tell us a bit about your work on the “handbook”
DH: It s a copyright handbook for illustrators and writers in Lebanon. The handbook is published by “al khayyat al saghir” and funded by Anna Lindh Foundation. It contains law material presented in a friendly and appealing way through a well done design by therefore design studio and marker-based illustrations that I did to represent every topic in the handbook. It was distributed in many universities for design students and in many other ways that we have no more copies left. You can download a digital copy from the net in addition to a sample contract, a contract checklist and useful links about the Intellectual Property in Lebanon.
LR: David, you have also been engaged in some graffiti making on the walls of Beirut. There seems to be a growing graffiti culture in Lebanon, some of it good, some of it really bad. Could you tell us a bit about that.
DH: The only graffiti I did with a group of friends was a Lebanese character “Abu Zuloof” on the famous karantina wall. We did a movie from this graffiti as a souvenir for the international participants in a workshop we attended called “dialogue through comics” with FDCD.
Graffiti and stencils in Lebanon are booming like any other visual art in Lebanon. The level varies because everyone is allowed to practice it. A good reference about street art in Lebanon is the book by Tarek Chemali “Archewallogy”.
LR: I am interested to know more about “خيالless” because it is a video clip for a poem. This seems to be a novel form of a video clip. I cannot say I have seen this before in Lebanon. I know that the wonderful poetry was written by Soha Awwad.
DH: “Khyel less” was one of many animations I did based on Soha Awwad’s poetry. Soha is a very close friend; we grew up in the same school and she is a great inspiration for me. We used to experiment and play a lot with words and visuals ever since we were young. We won many prizes for movies we did in school.
In July 2006, we shot “Khyel Less” in Byblos, where we lived, based on a poem for Soha inspired from a song for Toufic Farroukh. We were young, enthusiastic, so we did this animation and had the chance to project it in the Byblos Off festival. It was the first time we shared our thoughts and projects with an audience and it was overwhelming! A week later, the Israeli war on Lebanon began, yet we gathered everyday in the old souk next to our stand. We talked mainly about dreams!
LR: Tell us about your exhibition 3aseer taza. How was it, and when will you be exhibiting again?
DH: 3aseer taza was a collective exhibition for a selection of some Lebanese artists in fashion, photography, illustration… Jo Baaklini and Cynthia Merhej, two young Lebanese students studying in the UK, organized this exhibition and I was more than happy to participate. The opening night of the exhibition was very crowded and I met a lot of artists and friends whom I used to virtually communicate with through the internet. I exhibited two printmaking artworks I did in a short course in London in addition to other illustrations and a painting.
I was exhibiting lately, in the Running Horse Gallery, work I did with 22 other illustrators from the Arab world. The exhibition was the outcome of a workshop called “All in 1 box” that lasted for a week and was considered a research lab for illustrators.
LR: What are your upcoming projects?
DH: I finished recently the visuals for a new Lebanese play called “Vitrine” for Nehme Nehme with the actresses Aida Sabra and Julia Kassar. It was an amazing feeling to see the great actresses interacting with my animation on stage; the animation was projected on a 10-meter transparent voile that separates between the actresses and the audience.
I also finished the animation for a new video clip for Tania Saleh, “Wehde”, that will be broadcasted soon. We will be launching the new Haltabees illustration book and I am working on a series of four illustration Books with “Samir Editeur”. I contributed also to the book “Beirut Guide project” which is a personal guide for Beirut. Inside the guide, you can find a Flipper game illustration I did as a map for the “Dahye” region in Lebanon.
LR: Any last words?
DH: Euuh, no bikaffe 🙂 Thanks for the beautiful work you are doing in Lebrecord and for all the people reading this article.
LR: Thanks David, it was a pleasure. We will keep the news section updated with your latest.
DH: Thanks elak
David’s Blog: http://www.klekeesh.blogspot.com/
You can contact David at:
Phone: +961 3 180 112