A young Egyptian physician found her way of dealing with the stress associated with her profession while sharing hope and joy with thousands of viewers on her Songraffiti Facebook page.
“I always liked drawing and I was always listening to music. One day I thought of drawing what I hear,” pediatrician Nada Salah Amer shares with Ahram Online the beginning of her journey in what was yet to become one of the most popular Facebook pages of the past couple of years, where art is inspired by songs.
Amer’s page Songraffiti, a portmanteau of the words ‘song’ and ‘graffiti’, has garnered over 200,000 members, with a large number interacting with the artist virtually. Songraffiti on Instagram has almost 20,000 members.
The idea of the page is to take songs, their music and lyrics and transfer the feeling into illustrations. As the page’s description reveals "it is like making music, only in a different way," one that is visible to our sight. At times, however, Amer also draws inspiration from chosen scenes in well-known films.
“Drawing has always been my hobby, something I enjoy and that takes me away from the daily stress of my profession,” she comments on a unique connection she created between songs and her passion for drawing.
The first drawing published on Songraffiti was created when Amer was listening to My Baby You by Marc Anthony. “I just felt this sudden inspiration, something that came from the lyrics which says ‘you're the reason I feel so alive’,” Amer reveals.
Then came other drawings, inspired by other songs, all of which Amer was sharing on Songraffiti. As she reveals, she wants to embed her drawings with hidden message, those that are coming from the songs.
Within a few months since its founding in early 2015, the page’s community expanded far beyond the young physician’s friends. As the interaction increased, the members began placing their requests for drawings reflecting their favourite songs. The artwork by Amer has also developed, moving from simple drawings to graphic design and more recently to a bit of animation.
As Amer reveals, her main aim is to spread joy through Songraffiti, hence the yellow colour which symbolises hope and happiness is the page’s theme.
The repertoire of Amer’s songs has no borders. On her page we will find Western pop songs as well as many well-known compositions from the Arab world.
The big breakthrough and a big increase in the page’s followers came in December 2019, when Amer made a drawing inspired by one of the well-known Arabic classics, the song Mawood by Abdel-Halim Hafez.
Among the most popular drawings is also one representing El Sohab (Friends), a 2018 song by Zap Tharwat and Sary Hany featuring Hamza Namira.
Amer capitalised on the idea underlined by the lyrics that point to good friends being like family. The drawing shows two fingerprints of different people placed close together. “We are brothers, not just friends. The only difference between us is in the way we look,” Amer adds a verse from the song in her drawing.
Most of the art-music pieces are upon the request of the page’s fans. As the number of requests increases, Amer says that she tries to schedule all of them as to be able to respond to the many fans she has gained.
She does not reject any music genre, as her drawings reflect on songs by hundreds of Arab and international singers: From Um Kalthoum, Fairouz, Massar Egbari band, Egyptian Project, Amr Diab, Mohamed Hamaki to Sia, Coldplay, Enrique Iglesias and many others.
With the outbreak of coronavirus, one of the recent drawings created by Amer is to an older song by Medhat Saleh Zay Ma Heya (Take It As It Is) which references those making sacrifices for other people. Amer uses the lyrics to transpose the idea on the white soldiers, the doctors who are at the frontline of the struggle with pandemic.
The idea of COVID-19 keeps returning in Amer's works as she often looks to the songs released in the past and finding in them a verse that could serve as an inspiration or a comment to the current situation.
During the Ramadan, Amer also launched a daily puzzle for the fans presenting a drawing and asking them to guess the song it is inspired by. The winners of each riddle then can place a request for another drawing.
The success of Songraffiti led to an exhibition of Amer’s works which was in October 2019 at the Wosdom Hall of El-Sawy Culturewheel.
In an online interview, Amer revealed that most recently she got a request to create t-shirts with her drawings. She explained that she has not started this project for profit but just to share joy; however, she might consider studying the t-shirts option.
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