Ilat K.: You're never too young to start your own brand

Knayzeh's style was being revealed more and more, as if she was absorbing everything from her surrounding, and then letting it out on the canvas.

5 October 2017 | 12:42

Source: Annahar

  • By Zeina Nasser
  • Source: Annahar
  • Last update: 5 October 2017 | 12:42

Lebanese artist Ilat Knayzeh (personal photo/file)

BEIRUT: An idea sometimes needs a push or an encouraging atmosphere to see the light. 

Yet, there are examples of young people who believed that they are never too young to start their own brand. 27-year-old Ilat Knayzeh is one of them.

Knayzeh tells Annahar of the process of “inspiration” she went through until reaching her brand "Ilat K.".

"I took many painting courses when I was young, but never thought of doing it professionally," she says. Some of the courses she had were with Fabriano and the artist Hamawi, who passed away recently.

As she was studying graphic design at the Lebanese American University (LAU), Knayzeh started realizing her love for painting. "I was enjoying the courses that require painting," she says with a laugh.

Picture from the artist's first installation "HORMA"- currently part of the permanent collection of MACAM modern and contemporary art museum

In the summer of 2009, Knayzeh was 19. That was when she started experimenting alone on canvas. "I forgot everything they taught us, and started with my own style from scratch," she notes.

Her passion for painting made her "leave her friends sitting alone and run to the little studio (ex-laundry room) her parents created to paint.

Knayzeh's style was being revealed more and more, as if she was absorbing everything from her surrounding, and then letting it out on the canvas.

Her tribal style, inspired by African art might have been touched by her father's and uncles' work in Africa, she states.

Whatever she found in front of her, whether it was a CD ROM or any other object, Knayzeh would glue it on the canvas, creating a "mixed media piece," though she didn't know it was called mixed media back then.

All her paintings used to be hanging at home until she was one of the organizers and founders of the first edition of Mishkal festival in collaboration with Agonistik for performing arts in 2012. That was when one of her friends, Firas Bou Zeineddine, who is also one of the founders of Mishkal, pushed her to fill an application to present her paintings to the first edition of the festival.

Four paintings were chosen by the jury to be exhibited in the Mishkal festival in 2012. In the cultural festival's second edition in 2013, four paintings were also chosen by Ilat Knayzeh. 

"I started taking myself more seriously after that happened," she says.

She tells Annahar how she was afraid that she might be too young to start her own brand, but one of her friends, Bachir Abo Zeid, who wrote a novel at a very young age and made his own short films, encouraged her to do whatever inspired her without caring what people would say.

In 2015, Knayzeh had her first solo exhibition in collaboration with Particulier chocolatier. The chocolate brand made their whole collection based on Knayzeh's paintings.

Picture from the opening of Ilat's first solo exhibition on 13 March 2015

Ilat K. is now a brand Knayzeh loves dearly. Between Art directing in several films and music video clips, and graphic designing, Knayzeh says that her only aim is to become a painter/artist.

"It's exhausting and time-consuming to work in the film industry," she expresses.

She is mostly worried when exhaustion gives her that "artist block", making her feel as if all her creativity is gone. Knayzeh mentions a quote by the famous Painter Van Gogh saying that "whenever you feel like you can't paint just paint."

"I'm 27 and I did many things that are considered to be quite hard for many people to do at my age, such as co-founding a production company recently," she says.

Young Knayzeh mentions that her parents and friends were always very supportive. She feels thankful to her grandfather for giving her a space to make her own studio after she graduated.

Body painting by Ilat merged with the background for a film by Joya Nohra 

"You're never too young to start with your brand," she tells all young people struggling with founding their own projects.

Knayzeh sees that social media platforms, mainly Instagram and Facebook, are a great way to interact with people about her colorful/tribal art. "I accept all criticism on my Facebook page, and try to think of what suits me," she tells Annahar.

Knayzeh learned how to create websites in order to work on her own website. But notes jokingly, "I don't think I would design any other website."

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