The man behind Potato Nose – Jad El Khoury
… I search the lines that draws your imagination …
Born in Baabda, Lebanon , Jad El Khoury is an artist and interior architect living and working in Kuwait.
Through the media of pen and ink, and a desire of lines and colors, Jad gave birth to the Potato Nose . An art creation of fictive characters floating freely throughout a composition and reflecting family, friends and surrounding as well as extending to people and places that he experienced during his travels, dreams and nightmares.
- When did it all begin? And how did you first become interested in street art/graffiti?
I started when I was in school, I don’t remember exactly but maybe around the age of 10. The teachers always used to try to stop me. From the classroom desk this passion has grown inside of me.
- Where did the name come from?
Most of the characters have a nose like a Potato.
- What gave you that initial push to be a street artist?
There were many factors that triggered me to go and attack the city walls. Art was booming in Lebanon, and there were many issues prevalent in the society around me that needed to be recognized or highlighted. Personally I felt the need to express feelings.
- How do you describe the style of your pieces?
The technical term for the style is Doodle Art. Simple lines, creating forms that represent the people I see every day.
- Which artist is your biggest inspiration?
In fact it was actually the actor Matthew McConaughey who inspired me when he answered the exact same question. His answer was “My biggest inspiration is me in 20 years”. It stuck with me.
- Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your artwork?
Every new place I’m in, I get inspired by its culture.
- What are your sources of inspiration these days?
The same as always: New faces / Landscapes / Clouds / Insects / Rocks / Waves / Music / Human interactions…
- What do your pieces usually focus on?
The forms and shapes come together to form a composition that delivers a feeling or a statement. It’s about highlighting the muted truth. I focus on the issues or facts that fall between the gaps.
- What is the riskiest thing you have even done?
Abseiling from a 22-story building illegally when I was highlighting war traces, transforming each missile hole into a Potato Nose character.
People used to pass by those scarred buildings everyday, not even taking a second look. They became something normal, part of the scenery. They needed to be highlighted to bring up the Big Questions again, like what should we do with these iconic monuments that are still standing since the end of the civil war in Lebanon?
Should they be preserved? Demolished? Restored?
- Are you generally satisfied with your finished pieces?
- Does music play a big role while you’re working or do you need a quiet environment?
Some of the projects are dangerous and you can’t lose focus, so a quiet environment is needed. But when it comes to painting in the studio music is essential.
- If you do listen to music while working what is the one track that would usually be on repeat?
Beethoven – Triple concerto in C major, Op.56
- Where are your pieces usually located?
- Do you find it difficult to do your work in the streets?
In every project and especially before the first line I draw, I feel really scared when I consider the responsibility of the repercussions, this work will stay for a while, people will see it every day, and it will affect them in one way or another. Overcoming this feeling is the most difficult part.
- Have you had any problems with authority because of being a street artist?
I always do my homework, investigating the walls before commencing any project.
- Do you have a formal art education?
I studied Interior Architecture.
- If yes, do you feel that you benefitted from it?
Not really, university gives you techniques but no one can teach you how to be an artist. Its something that starts within you when you purge yourself of all the brainwashing that you’ve been subject to since the day you were born, and let the inner child in you take control again.
- Would you rather paint alone? Or do you prefer collaborations?
Usually I paint alone, but I have no objection to collaborations if there’s a story or a meaning behind it
- Have you ever collaborated with other artists?
Yes, on some experimental paintings, trying to mix Doodle art with other styles.
- What do you see as the future of street art / graffiti?
In this Urban Concrete Jungle we invented a consumer society. As Jose Mujica put it “We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs, shopping for new discarding the old”.Greed and obsession to reach the top of this mountain have transformed the people into robots.
As long as this ugly reality continues to evolve street art will evolve alongside to remind us of our humanity!
Latest work was a series of art attacks on war-damaged buildings in Beirut, as part of “WAR PEACE” project. (Above)
About “War Peace”: Even after more than 25 years to the end of the civil war in Lebanon, you can still encounter war traces on many buildings. “I didn’t live the brutality of war, but these chaotic battle traces gives me an idea of the barbarity that took place in my beloved city Beirut. For the old generation who witnessed this barbarism it’s time to move on at the same time for those who don’t know what is to be living in a wartime the traces should be preserved to give them an image of the craziness of the situation” Therefore, war peace project intend to highlight the bullet and missiles traces while adding to them funny characters that will deliver joy instead of bad memories. It’s time to move on and celebrate life and peace.
It was a pleasure having Jad El Khoury as a part of the Kingdome.