Tracy Chahwan on making the visuals for all the best “strictly-vinyl” parties in Beirut

Tracy Chahwan on making the visuals for all the best “strictly-vinyl” parties in Beirut

Tracy Chahwan started illustrating posters for the Beirut Groove Collective and the night club Yukunkun when she was still a student at The Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts. Since then, her practice took a firm root in the buzzing music scene of Beirut, with her eye-catching posters being plastered all over the streets of the city. But in 2019, when she was on her way to do a year-long comics residency in Angouleme, the pandemic hit and she got stranded in the US when she was visiting her partner there. “I never thought in my life that I’d be living in the US,” she tells us. “But here I am, based in Philadelphia, the city of Rocky Balboa, since 2019.”

When putting a finger on what marks out her distinct visual language, Tracy describes it as a product of her life experiences and her “weird identity mix”. Growing up on a mediterranean island and going to a French school there, then moving to Lebanon for ten years and now “a new immigrant discovering the very strange place that is the US, trying to overcome or accept the dystopian things going on back home”.

When she knuckles down to creating something, Tracy likes to pull ideas from all kinds of styles and cultures; anything from Persian miniatures, Egyptian hieroglyphics, American indie comics or a matchbox design. She’s also a fan of 70s aesthetics and, pulling it all off with bold lines and swathes of juicy bright colour, her portfolio of music-related posters reverberates with a captivating sense of movement which makes you want to get up a dance.

Speaking of her eclectic style, the illustrator says: “We don’t really have a specific illustration tradition in Lebanon and the place itself is such a complex cultural mix of things… So it makes sense that we try to find our individuality by taking inspiration from so many different cultures and things.”

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