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Stabroek News

Creating 'wearable' art
published: Thursday | March 3, 2005

The artist Ziad, with one of his airbrushed designs, a shirt bearing the likeness of Haile Selassie I.

Tanya Batson-Savage, Freelance Writer

AMONG THE numerous booths at the Fi-Wi-Sinting, were displayed the feathery, alluring designs of Mutamba. Beside her booth, however, were clothing of a very similar style, but these were decorated with airbrush art. Sitting quietly at the back of the booth was a quiet, tall, young man.

A quick query reveals that he, Ziad, is the artist. The clothing belongs to the Ziam line which combines Ziad's airbrush art, with designs from Mutamba and features either abstract swirls of colour, figures or landscapes that compliment the tropical and Afro-centric feel of the clothing.

Born Glenroy Smith, 28-year-old Ziad explains that he has been involved in airbrushing for 11 years. Ziad says that upon seeing airbrushing he decided that it would be his chosen art form, so he bought a brush and started to practice. "Being an artist mi just decide seh dat a di avenue dat mi wan' travel," he said in the matter-of-fact tone in which he would continue to speak. Though he appears confident, he seems far from cocky.


Ziad admits that though he was initially doubtful of his ability to paint with the airbrush, he finally just jumped in. "Mi jus dweet," he said, again without any
hint of boastfulness. "Mi tink to myself, if mi cyan get it wid di pencil, mi can spray it," he continued.

The outfits declare that it was a worthwhile avenue to trod. Ziad said he is not surprised that he managed to do well because he believed he would be successful from the outset. However, he does not see it as a dream coming true.

"Mi deal wid tings touchable," he said. "From you do hard work, yuh mus get suppen. A nuh suppen weh jus happen like yuh jus go a yuh bed now an get dis wonderful dream."

Ziad considers himself a fashion designer and artist. He explains that most of his pieces are done free hand, though he may use a stencil for mass produced pieces. For him the attraction to airbrushing is the way the colours blend together without the distinctive lines a brush would create.

The pieces of wearable art shout that Ziad has put hard work into the art form. Amber Cohen, designer for Mutamba, who was seated in the next booth, pointed out that Ziad has to put some of that hard work into the business side of his development. She noted that while Ziad has an admirable level of humility in his personality, he needs to develop his customer relations skills.

The eye-catching outfits being tossed in the breeze are just the tip of Ziad's paint brush. Ziad explains that he likes painting large pieces of work which can range from a car, to a wall, posters, banners, backdrops, or even a refrigerator. He is also able to create portraits, as shown by a T-shirt featuring the likeness of Haile Selassi I. Airbrushed moons on his shoes also declare that he is willing to paint anything.

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