The Awkward Scrapbook
These days we come across many stories that may or may not affect us, but a lot of them lack the sense of authenticity. To find that beautiful, heartwarming and influencing story has become so rare, but not impossible to find.
She makes it look so easy, everything she does is full of art and creation that goes too deep and touches your soul. She is the authentic Maryam El-Ghonemy, the founder of the most loveable Awkward Scrapbook. As well known as she is, in the first interview she’s ever been in, we’ll get to know her more and better through this enjoyable interview.
1.We’d like you to tell us more about yourself, Maryam.
–I’m Maryam Gamal, mostly known by Maryam ElGhonemy. I’ve just finished Thanaweya Amma and planning to major in Applied Arts inshallah. I’ve always been interested in illustrations and storyboards, I’ve always loved the idea of delivering concepts through art, and I’ve been obsessed with art and how to make it ever since I started taking control over my hands.
2. Now, about The Awkward Scrapbook. How did the awkward scrap book start? And what keeps you going?
–About The Scrapbook, I was going through a really dark time in my life, that I even forgot that I can make art (that’s how bad it was), until one day my brother received a Planit notebook that he didn’t need and he handed it over to me. So, as I was laying in bed I found it next to me, I opened it and the next minute I had a pencil and I was scrapping in it. One or two weeks later, the Planit was full of scraps that I didn’t know how and when I managed to make. I was suicidal back then and I used to harm myself. I wouldn’t say that things got better because of the scrapbook but it definitely helped me be less suicidal as my thoughts were consumed in something else. Four months later, the tragedy that was going on in my life was over and I started recovering. What helped me carry on is the fact that when I uploaded some of my scraps at first, they were celebrated by people I don’t know! And whether we like to admit it or not, we all want to feel like we belong to something and that we’re not 100% strangers or purposeless. I found people messaging me telling me that the scrapbook inspired them to start their own scrapbook, and it helped them consume their energy in something else other than heartache. I realized that I’ve done something. I’ve actually done something that helped people in a way. One year later, Planit, the founder of Planit the notebook in which I started scrapping in, messaged me telling me that they had two pages in Planit 2016 dedicated to my art with my name and I could draw whatever I want and send it over to them. You can of course imagine my happiness. What also keeps me going, is that I’ve realized that people like me need to make art to survive. Need, not want. I don’t always want to make art, but I need to or else I’d get busy with my own thoughts, which aren’t the brightest thoughts ever, to be honest. I also can’t draw, and for once I found it acceptable! People and graduates of fine arts accepted me not being able to draw perfectly because I delivered concepts. And this is what my art is all about.
3. With complete honesty..The quotes you feature on your drawings, how do you choose them? Do they define you somehow?
–It’s clear that these quotes play an important role in my scrapbook, but the story of how it started with the quotes is pretty accidental. When I started scrapping at first, my hands started to hurt so I left the pencil and started checking my tumblr. And as I’m a big fan of quotes, I’m probably following every account that has something to do with quotes on tumblr, because unlike most people, I’m not into reading books. I mean, I tried to read when It was a trend to see what all the fuss is about, but I’m easily bored. I’ll probably be judged for it by bookworms, but deep down I believe that I haven’t found THE book that can change that just yet. So back to the quotes; hence, quotes for me were like the highlights of books that I didn’t have the chance to read. I found a perfect quote to match my first scrap, and it all just started there. I started saving the quotes that I can relate to, or the quotes that I’d want to make a scrap out of. So basically, the quotes I feature define me somehow.
4. So, how many scrapbooks did you make so far? And is there some sort of hidden pattern in each one?
–This will actually come off a little weird, but I’ve finished only one scrapbook. What you see on my page is three different scrapbooks that I jog back and forth between, because as I mentioned before I’m easily bored. There aren’t any hidden patterns in any of them, but there’s this constant quote that I write in the first blank page of each one of them that perfectly describes the series of my scrapbooks.
5. Now, as I’ve been a fan for a long time, can you tell us about the #awkwardreplacements, and why do we no longer see them?
– #TheAwkwardReplacement was my break from the scrapbook. I wanted to take a break from my scrapbook as it gets emotionally consuming at times. So, I wanted to keep my brain in motion as to carry on with my creation process.
6. I remember on tumblr you answered a question saying that you have a lot of beautiful things you want to do, and that is what keeps you going. Can you tell us more about these things; what has been accomplished and what’s coming up?
–What keeps me going is the fact that I want to do many things that people probably know nothing of. For example, I want to be a fashion designer as I’m into designing clothes. I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings when it comes to designing clothes. And more importantly, I want to learn about printing and other stuff that I need to know which are related to publishing, since the next step is to have my scrapbook published. And most probably, I’ll publish it myself as I’ve spoken to many publishers, and they find the idea pretty risky because it isn’t familiar in the Middle East. So, we’ll see how it goes.
7. I’m really curious whether you already shared your favorite quote in the awkward scrapbook or you prefer keeping it to yourself? Which piece of your work is closest to your heart?
*As lucky as I was, she was posting it at the same moment I asked her about it*
-I’m currently posting it! Would you wait till I post it?
– “We were the children of fathers who never learned how to love. Of mothers that only spoke in shouting. We found ourselves somehow older than the people who were supposed to take care of us; found that we were mature beyond our years. We knew to just let arguments go, because they would only lead to trouble, we accepted responsibility, we supplied the nurture that was missing.
We would give anything to fill up the absence. We turned ourselves into perfect kids. We learned to give more than we took, to hide our problems under too many layers. How to box up our issues until they were nothing more than nightmares, how to take care of others so that at least someone would love us, even if we weren’t all there. Later, when we were all grown up, we found ourselves like roller coasters, unable to speak about our problems unless we were shooting towards the ground, huge outbursts of pressure that made us feel worse rather than better. We couldn’t trust others to love us.
A generation of children that know better but can’t stop. Who don’t mean to be jealous but are honestly just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who heard “I love you” from the same people who did not. Who grew up knowing not to feel secure in happiness, not to want. Who love different, who love insecure, but who love with everything they got.”
— Inkskinned on tumblr.
That was the interview with the creative Maryam El-Ghonemy, that I’m sure you enjoyed as I did and for sure got inspired by! May we get blessed by some creativity that she holds inside her beautiful creations and we get to meet more people like her. Stay safe, and find your passion.
For more of Maryam’s work follow her on her social media accounts;
==Interview by; Marwan S. Abdien.