We sat with political cartoonist, creator of Khartoon! Khalid Al baih to find out more behind the artist's use of cartoons to express contemporary themes in a shifting region. Khalid's Khartoon! work has made waves internationally, what started as a documentation of the Arab Spring, Khalid has transcended from a personal diary to rising regional artist - pushing the boundaries with a new form of expression.
In three words, describe Khalid Al Baih the artist...
Social media artist
Using cartoons as a medium of expression, how effective has this art form proven to be in creating a dialogue about politics and other issues relating to the region?
Cartoons were the first signs of the Arab Spring. Cartoons were drawn in the streets of Tunis and Egypt when the Revolutions were in their first days and made clear that the people are not scared any more and that if they control the media they cant control the streets.
You’ve pretty much made your mark as a contemporary political cartoonist judging by your social media following! Did you ever imagine gaining such international exposure?
Absolutely not. But I work hard and if you work hard in anything eventually you will get to were you want to be.
Do you feel the responsibility to push the next generation of artists to break the same barriers whether political or social? What advice would you give to the aspiring artist?
Yes it is our role as artists to push boundaries and inspire. My advice is work hard and if you work hard in anything eventually you will get to where you want to be.
How do you deal with backlash and what is the most negative feedback you’ve received?
I am used to Islamists calling me a communist, Liberals calling me an Islamist. If I’m pissing everyone off I guess I’m on the right track.
A brave artist in a shaky region, is there anything you hold back on? Any secret cartoons in the Khalid Al Baih archive?
Lots and lots. I have a daughter now so I'm being more careful.
Your take on EMERGEAST as an online platform for Middle Eastern emerging visual artists…
I love it and I think it is much needed for regional artist in a time where art and freedom of expression is on the rise.