Hussien Adil helped create a new community for graphic designers in Iraq when he started Mesaha in December of 2015. Mesaha (Space) provides a space for graphic designers in Iraq to develop skills and show case their work.
In his team, Hussien was joined by Mohammed Aouda, Raed Modar, and Sarah Hussien. The four individuals initially met to publish a comic series for adults in Iraq. They felt such graphic novels were limited to only children in the country, with nothing for adults.
Aside from publishing their magazine, the Mesaha team provides workshops for people who are interested in their field. In order to join the workshops, participants must show basic knowledge of the design tools used, tools include Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Paint tool Sai, Sketchbook as well as others used for graphic tablet techniques.
Mesaha holds private and public workshops. The private workshops are announced in a private group on Facebook, other events are announced on their public Facebook page.
As a new startup, Mesaha hasn’t yet established a fixed working location, so one of the main problems they face when organizing workshops is finding a workspace. Sometimes they have been offered to rent halls, and they have also broadcasted some of events online. Whether it is online or in person, the team makes sure to provide the best possible training in the workshops.
The Mesaha team has designed their magazine to be divided into two parts. The first part features comics that illustrate the social issues that Iraq is facing today. These comics are the works of the Mesaha team members themselves. The second part of their magazine is dedicated to showcasing artists that have contributed in the workshops held by Mesaha. So far, they have showcased the works of about 30+ artists in their community.
The first issue of the magazine is published both online and in print, and they are currently working on publishing their second issue. A lack of funding also limits the number the copies they can print.
For the time being, the magazine is only available in Arabic, but they do have plans of publish in different languages.
The team has also taken part in some international comic book conventions; their last trip was to Egypt to attend the Cairo Comic Book Conference. “Mesaha was the first Iraqi team that took part in an event of this kind. “We were very well received from other Arab artists” said Mohammed.
“We wish to provide a safe space for all digital and comic artists in Iraq, and we hope to see more Iraqi comic magazines or visual arts projects in the future.” Said Mohammed when he was talking about his hopes for the growth of the comic arts community in Iraq.