Independent designer Doa Bugis is cultivating a unique visual direction that is deeply rooted in research. Born in Makkah, Saudi Arabia and now based in Jeddah, her focus is on art direction and design anthropology. Her captivating body of work is a result of experiments with traditional and contemporary media exploring grief, loss, immigration, and hybrid identities. 

She expresses her emotions to her creative work and her subjects are deeply personal and cover everyday challenges.

Artist Doa Bugis

Saira Malik (SM): Can you talk to us about your interest in exploring subjects like grief, loss, immigration and hybrid identities through your work?

Doa Bugis (DB): Art for me is a healing method. I’m in my ultimate meditative state when I’m painting. When the mind is quiet and my spirit is fully present, I process emotions. These subjects are very personal and are the roots to core challenges I’m facing on a daily basis. And because healing is a process, I tackle these issues from different angles with each artwork. Sort of like peeling off an onion one layer at a time. My work is expressive and emotive and the process expands my awareness not only about myself but the world around me. The topics are personal in conception but simultaneously universal and relate to almost everyone.

SM: Your work is a mix of traditional and contemporary media. How do you bring these two different styles together so seamlessly? 

DB: My background in design and my training in traditional painting enabled me to experiment with both genres. The wide spectrum of creative media is too alluring to resist playing around with. Consistent practice led to the two different styles organically morphing into my own.

SM: When did you develop such a keen interest in Arabic typography and do you think enough is being done to preserve it? 

DB: I believe my love for the Arabic type started during my graphic design study for my bachelor degree. When we initially learned the basics of Arabic letter drawing, there were few resources on the subject. Jump to 2021, now there is an abundance of different resources on multiple channels and platforms from traditional Arabic calligraphy to font design. There will always be a consistent effort in not only preserving but elevating and innovating. Is it enough? I will say we have come a long way and there is always room for more.

SM: Describe the process of how you work on your projects from start to finish.

DB: I start with a broad idea and take it into research. Because my approach is very research-based, it’s the bulk of my process. When I feel confident about the angle I want to tackle, I move on to sketching and drawing. I try to go in with zero expectations about the end result and allow the work to take me on a journey. More often than not, the outcome surprises me (in a good way).

SM: What is the one piece of work that you are most proud of and why?

DB: Migrating Birds. I’ve been working on the topic of immigration for about 5 years now. Each artwork sheds the light in a different manifestation. The Migrating Birds painting and the extended products that accompanied it have been the fruit of the 5 years research, attempts and experimentations. It is probably a topic that I will revisit time and time again in different ways. But for now, I feel I nurtured it enough to bloom which makes me proud.

SM: What advice would you give to inspiring young creatives?  

DB: Be patient with your growth. In our fast-paced achievement oriented world, it is important to ground yourself and work on discovering and nurturing your assets and passions. It’s my constant advice to myself as well.

SM: What are you currently working on? 

DB: The current artwork that I’ve been slowly working on is a story of the ever-changing journey of healing.

SM: What are your future aspirations for the next few years? 

DB: One of the side effects of the pandemic is to not overthink the future and focus on the present moment. To be fully transparent, I don’t have clear large aspirations or goals for the future. My intention is to keep working on myself and developing art that  documents our shared experiences through my personal lens.

Artist Doa Bugis at work

Words: Saira Malik & Doa Bugis
Images: courtesy of Doa Bugis

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