For Acne Studio’s relaunch of Acne Paper, a bi-annual arts magazine that stopped in 2015, Yousef was able to play with and interpret the theme of Age of Aquarius: “it was an epic ride, I must say,” Yousef admits. “The Age of Aquarius is meant to mark a new era, ending the previous one that started around the time of Christianity, which I think seems appropriate in such a fast-paced digital immersive era where we find ourselves at the start of,” continues the artist. With 500 pages, the publication teeters on the edge between a book and a magazine. Yousef worked with a team in London, wherein he tells us he had an “absurd amount of creative freedom.” He adds: “With Fred Birdsall as art director and Thomas Persson as creative director, their guidance was fabulous. As a creative experience it was one of a kind. I felt like I had room to stretch my legs as an artist for the first time. They pushed my limits and beyond.”
Following a six-year stint in London, Yousef swapped out the grey skies for a warmer climate and better food, moving back to Egypt into a home studio that once belonged to his “babushka” with his older brother Karim, a photographer and videographer. Living in Egypt, Yousef is inspired every day by beautifully chaotic nature, “with so many rich layers contrasting and complimenting each other, from lifestyle to aesthetic extremes, you can’t help but see something everyday that tickles your brain.” And working with friends like Omar Mobarek, the owner of Egypt’s streetwear brand Unty, has recently been a prime example of being inspired by the close ones around him. “Working with [Omar] and seeing his projects always feel like a push of possibility and seeing the materialisation of his efforts,” says Yousef, who feels he can find himself in those around him.
In the months to follow, Yousef is working towards launching Egypt’s first Risograph studio, Rizomasr. It’s a printing method used all around the world, he explains, targeted for independent printmakers and publishers in our current digital age. “We’re working towards introducing this method across the board to all relevant parties here in Egypt, almost like a gospel choir, local product shops, universities, high schools, bookstores, indie makers in almost every industry. It is the world’s cheapest and most environmentally friendly method of printing,” the illustrator continues, “its unique high volume fast output approach is perfect for Egypt’s constantly growing entrepreneurial energy.”
In the future, Yousef hopes to be making and selling the brand’s own products, from stationery to prints: “We will be focusing on engaging with regional and local artists to create objects and events both relevant and beautiful,” says Yousef of the work he hopes the brand will produce. “Specifically, to push zines in Egypt, an object that I think has become a symbol in print culture worldwide.”