Cloud Based Solutions

Matt Charlton chats to the creator behind Myne and Yours, Marwan Skakarchi about how to get ahead in life doing the thing you love the most.

“I was having this chat with this guy the other day. He’s a graphic designer, and really unhappy in his job. He’s a really good artist. I said ‘so you’re suffering at what you do, right? You may as well do something you love… AND suffer!’” Marwan Shakarchi is seated in what sounds like a cavernous studio somewhere in Dubai. The second-generation Iraqi is a long way away from his native London, and a long way away from the career path set out for him. Maybe his artist friend should listen - it looks as if he knows what he’s talking about. 

Marwan knows something about doing something he loves, taking that leap, and suffering - he is an artist after all. If you happen to be reading this in the plush, characterful surroundings of 25hours Hotel One Central, Dubai, you will have noticed his striking globe installation in the lobby, but it’s been quite the creative expedition to reach this point - via 9-5s, pizzas, stickers, scaling buildings, and our old friend, the pandemic.

He took the leap 15 years ago, and he had nothing behind him at all.  Unlike his graphic designer friend, he wasn’t even in the creative field - that is unless you count a well presented Pepperoni Passion as a work of art (some do) - he worked for his father’s Domino’s Pizza franchise. He went into the family business after taking a university course that he didn’t really enjoy. “Myne and Yours (originally his personal moniker and now the name of his company) was always the side hustle - the 5-12 as opposed to the 9-5”, he tells me. He doodled his calling card cloud (pictured) on a whim, and then he had the idea of making it into stickers, “…and then I would stick them on my route to work, and it made me feel like a rebel - it was like my tag - and I really liked the allure of this character looking back at me whilst I was on my way to work.” 

As with any artists who get into a groove, this quickly became an obsession which started to take over his life “I started to print the sheets out, and then I would get off the train a stop early, and then I would stop taking the train altogether and ride a bike to work just so I could stick them”, he continues. “Then the stickers became posters, and then they became billboards, so I had to get the equipment for it, and then I started climbing buildings and before I knew it, it was chaos.”

But after the chaos came the leap. The financial pressures of a city such as London usually mean that fledgling artists can only exist on the fringe or just getting by. Then, his wife was offered a job in her home country of the UAE. “My Iraqi wife grew up in Dubai, and she had this plan that when she graduated from uni in the UK, she would move back there. Then she met me and her life fell apart!” he jokes. She believed in me more than I did. I was too much of a coward, I thought it was a nice idea, but…”

He opted out of the rat race in the most proactive way possible, and started to gain traction, securing illustration work with the likes of Apple, Lexus and Virgin, always maintaining his personal style. Then 25hours came calling. In 2019 he was approached by founder Christoph Hoffman, who was scouting local artists for the new Dubai location. “There is a tendency in Dubai to admire the West and bring big creatives over to create noise and buzz, but there is so much homegrown talent, and Arab talent, and ex-pat talent. 25h honed in on all of that.” 

25hours started a new phase for me. I began working on three dimsensional artworks.

Marwan Skakarchi

Then Covid came, and both the hotel and the artwork slowed to a halt. Unlike a lot of us, however, Marwan gained laser focus through the nebulous non-time of lockdown. “Covid and 25hrs started a new phase for me, because I started working on three dimensional artworks”, he recalls. His original cloud was slowly realised in three dimensions - he waves a very cool electric blue scale model in front of the camera - and now he plans to scale up. “I was getting bored with what I was doing, and that shock value of the work was somewhat depleted. I needed to figure out how to retain that shock value, which is when the idea came to put the cloud in the sky… because where does a cloud belong after all?”. 

Fifteen years and a lot of drive later, he is one of the main players in the Dubai artistic community. He has started to see his - to use a Marvel term - ‘origin story’ as one of his strengths, no longer hiding behind his moniker, leaning into the journey that has got him here. “The story is what resonates with people - there was a guy who had a job, who quit his job, who did something that he wanted to do and believe in, and he’s still doing it 15 years later. That story is motivation to someone.” So, next time you seek out one his pieces, remember to look up - a giant cloud which started as a street tag may be hanging over your piazza, your square, or your hotel lobby. You could say the sky’s the limit.

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