VCUarts Qatar alum creates Google Doodle for Moin Akhtar

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Doha: For the VCUarts Qatar graduate, it was an opportunity to celebrate the life of someone he admires and continues to admire.

“Never in my life have I thought of working as a guest artist for Google Doodle let alone designing a doodle for the legendary Moin Akthar. , I felt humbled and honored (…) Working on this project has been the most rewarding experience of my career to date,” VCUarts Qatar alumnus Hazem Asif said in an interview for Google.

On December 24, 2021, a doodle by Hazem Asif, an alumnus of Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar), greeted viewers on Google’s landing page. The artwork was designed exclusively by Asif for Google on the occasion of the 71st birthday of Moin Akhtar, one of Pakistan’s most beloved actors, comedians and entertainers.

Hazem Asif

The opportunity presented itself the first week of November 2021 when the art director of Google Doodle US reached out to the Qatar Foundation partner university alumnus. They had seen the designer’s creations on his ‘worldofhazem’ Instagram account, and were impressed. Would he be interested in creating a doodle to mark Moin Akhtar’s birthday? For Asif, who grew up watching Moin Akhtar on vintage TVs in the 1990s, it was something of a double honor – the answer was an immediate ‘yes’.

Google Doodle US shared guidelines, templates, and some examples of past work with Asif. They also picked out some of the Pakistani designer’s earlier work that they thought was interesting for the approach and color palette.

“Google’s creative team said they liked how I integrated my portraits into the surrounding narrative of the person who is the subject,” says Asif, who holds both a BFA in graphic design and an MFA. by VCUarts Qatar. “As an actor and comedian, Moin was popular for the impressions, often with a sense of humor, he made on others. They suggested it would be great to see that element of Moin reflected in the doodle.

“Additionally, the Google logo needed to be incorporated into the artwork as part of its visual narrative and drawn from scratch rather than using existing digital fonts. Other than that, as a designer knowing the cultural pulse of the region, I had complete creative freedom to create a doodle that reflected Moin’s versatility – his performances as an actor, comedian and performing artist.

Asif, who currently works freelance as a full-time scientific illustrator at a university in Pakistan, and whose designs have graced the cover of ‘The Lancet HIV’, a reputable UK-based medical journal, aspired to create a doodle that would have a classic feel while invoking a sense of nostalgia for viewers by paying homage to a person who was and continues to be a household name in Pakistan.

“Doodles can take the form of a hand sketch, an idea process, or a minimalist line drawing that leads into something more complex,” he explains. “In this case, I was mostly inspired by my own childhood – memories of watching classic Pakistani shows on PTV (Pakistan Television Corporation). As a family, we used to gather around our TV – the vintage type that was common in Pakistan in the 1990s – to enjoy his stage performances. Later, in the 2000s, we used to watch the hugely popular television comedy “Loose Talk”, where Moin impersonated hundreds of characters and different personalities with his humorous version of the social and political events of the time.

“I wanted the final work to be a balance between showcasing his multifaceted talents and evoking a sense of nostalgia for the 1980s and 1990s. Those who grew up in the 1990s will notice that the color palette was also inspired by the retro technicolor palette of those decades.

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