“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.” – Michelangelo
What makes a true artist? Is it the quality of his or her creations? Or is it impact of his or her work on community? This matter of inquiry may seem in its crux an amalgam of an abstract philosophical contemplations and an existential introspective.
The answer here is simple. A true artist is the artist that is truly admired and cherished by those around him that loves him and loves his art and passionately crave for more. Yes, it is that simple. It is neither about ultimate success nor about blazing fame, it is solely about the amount of love, respect, and support that the artist gets from all the people in his community and eventually that what all artist deep inside seek to acquire for many of them since the dawn of humanity left this world with their inhume desire of procuring people’s love of their work and people’s love of them.
In this second special interview and after the first one with the blazing Shiki our beloved queen of doodles, I have finally got the opportunity to make an interview with one of the most talented and prodigious young artist in Tunisia and even the world, MR SYRUS.
With nearly 830 videos in his YouTube channel with variety of an affluently splendid contents from entertaining gameplays, podcasts (JouJma), emissions (Tayyar lfada) and straight to amusing live streams, MR SYRUS fought his way straight to the hearts of his fans and earned their love and support.
We asked MR SYRUS some question about his passions, work, and personal opinion about art and the Tunisian community. Our first question as always:
Q1: Who are you? (Brief Introduction about MR SYRUS)
A1: “My name is Jawhar Dridi, more known as Satanix Syrus or MR SYRUS on social networks and in the geek community. I am a 26 years old design student by day, video maker and illustrator/mangaka by night. I spend most of my time creating stuff whether it’s content for my YouTube channel ‘MR SYRUS’ or illustrations and other drawings for my various manga projects or my freelance work and commissions.”
Q2: Why do you do what you do?
A2: “Why? That’s an interesting question! But it’s not easy to pinpoint the exact reason. If I have to choose a reason I’d say that I’m constantly thinking about ideas and concepts, sometimes just simple thoughts and views on topics, and that I want to share them with people around me so that they can interact with them, learn, relate, get inspired from them or in general, get entertained by what I offer ! Which brings me to the second reason, feedback!
In return of what I offer, I too can learn, get new inspiration feed and feel a bit of an achievement sense if something I do happens to make people’s lives even a tiny bit better!
In short, I do stuff to incite a positive chain reaction in people that might kick start a new action from my part! It’s kind of a circle.”
Q3: What is integral to the work of an artist?
A3: “It depends on the artist really, but I can name a few I personally find essential:
Continuous search for new inspirations for example, people tend to look for inspiration but most of the time in the same places that inspired them at first, an artist’s mind is constantly looking for new sources of « food »! So it’s very important to feed it back with a variety of elements whether literature, videogames, music, cinema, other artists and most importantly real life experiences.
Perseverance is also important! whether it’s to work towards a goal or to simply get better and improve in the art you’re performing , or sometimes even to just keep on making art , perseverance is very necessary in a society that doesn’t give artists the time and/or opportunity to work on their art .
There are a lot of other things I can list but I’ll end up with ‘having a balanced sense of critique’ and I said balanced because ‘good’ can be misinterpreted here.
An artist should be able to see his own flaws and not just others , that way he can get better at what he does , plus , criticizing things around him can kick start his own inspiration , and makes him learn more from everything his eyes lie upon.”
Q4: What role does that artist have in society?
A4: “Imagine your life without art. And I’m talking about every aspect of art!
From the way buildings are shaped and built, to the way flowers and trees are cut, to what you’re wearing, to the shapes of your tools, the paintings in your offices and homes, the wrapping of your food, the vehicles you drive, to the very wallpaper you have on your PC or phone.
Society would be dull without that touch of art! Art is the purest form of entertainment because when you think about any means of refreshment, you’ll find art at the center of it! from food , to music , to video games , to TV , theater and many others , artists are behind these means any common person use to get over the mundane and most of the times stressful daily routine !
Everyone needs art, even if we don’t feel the direct link and even if I’m getting a little bit off topic here, this is why I find it to be a very logical evolution that is my branching from traditional illustrations and drawing to video making . Art is entertaining. And for this I’ll quote the saying « EARTH without ART is just EH ».
PS: Art has a pretty substantial role in more critical branches of society as well, like science, social behavior, etc., but that would take a whole ‘Joujma’ episode (a podcast I do) to explain and detail, and perhaps it will x)”
After adding to my note the quote that MR SYRUS said as my new favorite quote of all time :p we passed to our next question.
Q5: What is the best experience you had as an artist?
A5: “This is the kind of question that the answer to may vary every time I get asked, but if I have to pick one (I’ll actually pick two but…)
It’d certainly be the day I published my first manga book!
I’ve never before experienced the same rush of excitement or happiness as an artist! Whether from a success perspective as in ‘yay I just published my first book after years of dreaming about doing so ‘
or just as plain satisfaction from seeing dozens and dozens of people holding and reading my story with a multitude of reactions ranging from contempt to criticizing stares to deep thoughts , laughter’s , surprises and tears , it was simply magical , too magical to put in words ! Plus, it coincides with the birthday of a very very dear person to me so, DOUBLE WIN XD !”
Q6: Who is your favorite artist and what art work impresses you the most?
A6: “I can’t simply name a favorite artist because there are sooo many, and making an inspiration map would literally take me weeks at best! My favorite artist may vary with the mood or the setting or the wave of artworks I’m impressed with at the time I’ll choose! (And I’m also very bad with names…) but I’ll add a ‘kind’ to your question and answer to what’s my favorite kind of artist and artwork .
For that it’ll be the artists that have a distinct mark, the ones that I can say HA, IT’S insert name ‘S ARTWORK without having to read the title or see the signature, because an artist’s signature is his art style itself.
I love artworks and artists that will keep me thinking a lot about three things ; what pushed them to draw this exact thing , what techniques did they use to do this or that bit , and artworks that are so detailed or by contrast , simple , that I can’t decide where I should look at first when I see them . The more of these criteria there are, and the more time I spend answering them the best I find an artwork!”
Q7: What/Who inspired you to be an artist?
A7: “Would it be too presumptuous to answer ‘life’?
Because that’s pretty much it! Of course there’s imagination, since I believe that art comes from the expression of one’s imaginary into a real palpable art form! but even imagination itself can’t be born from nothing , it has to set roots somewhere , and for me I’d say it’s real life experiences , whether people I met , situations I’ve been in , dialogues I’ve heard or participated in , or just scenes I witnessed ! These are triggers to my art.”
And to know more about the struggles in our community and the barricades that keeps young artists from shining and following their dreams in Tunisia, we decide to ask MR SYRUS about what he like and desilks about being an artist in Tunisia.
Q8: What is the most likable/dislikable things about being an artist and in the art world?
A8: “The best thing about being an artist is making art , precisely , having the idea , beginning to shape the idea , and finally seeing the results , with each one of these being more enjoyable than the other in that same order .
This is exactly why having an art block is way more troublesome for artists than it sounds like, because not having ideas or simply not being able to express them is very crippling.
There’s also discovering new techniques, trying new things and learning, and of course, seeing the impact your work has on people! An artist is passionate, and if that passion resonates with other people, that feeling is beyond satisfactory to the creator.
The worse thing is perhaps everything around that! Whether not getting the exposition deserved (which unfortunately makes artists more known after their deaths rather than when they were alive) or simply the look to society towards art not being a real job!
that it’s easy and not necessary , which make the artists often work separate works from their fields and lose precious time they could have spent honing their skills and making amazing stuff. There are also art blocks but I already explained that.”
When it comes to MR SYRUS there is always a new content and new projects and so after announcing some of his future big projects we decided to get more info about it.
Q9: What is your dream project and what you aim for in the future? (Info about your new project O-Zone)
A9: “My dream projects are all over the place, some realizable and some not; the closest ones being the ability to publish my stories and work I’ve been working on since some years now , and being able to create a platform that can allow other people from all around the country to publish their work as well, because I find it important to give these people the opportunity to see their work being born as well as to show them that it’s possible to produce this content in a place where they are met everywhere with deceptions and rejections.
I’m also working on a couple stories that I hope will be able to make into videogames, and some major projects for the video making counterpart like a few short films I’m writing or other show concepts!
Perhaps my biggest project is to make an animated movie sometime soon, the story being already written, now I need to work on them animation skills!
The platform I was talking about earlier is initially called O-ZONE , short for otaku-zone , it’ll be a sort of magazine uniting comics, manga’s , comedic shorts and other traditional art content into one big stack that would be published monthly or twice a month to the public to read and follow !
I’ve been working on five different manga stories to implement in it and also following the most recent announcement about me giving drawing lessons, the best projects to come out of these sessions will also be featured in the early numbers of the mag.
This doesn’t mean though that its restricted to those people, people that have their personal projects that weren’t on board can also attempt to publish in it as long as they are serious about what they are doing! If all goes as planned, the first issue will be available late summer 2017.”
Q10: What are the troubles that makes being an artist hard in Tunisia?
A10: “It’s as I said in the previous question, the same old way society perceives artists as just lazy people that doesn’t do a real job and that they aren’t helping the society progress.
I can extend the problems to how closed publishers are to new forms of art (to them that is) aka mangas and comics, refusing to produce these to the public besides the huge number of potential readers. And also the lack of material necessary for certain artists, and in the few cases where they exist, they are extremely expensive compared to their international prices.”
Although MR SYRUS always was and still generous when it comes to helping others and guiding them through, and for those who knows follows his Facebook posts they know the help he imparts even when sometimes comes with a bit of salty touch to change the flavor :p .
Q11: What is the best advice you can give to young artist?
A11: “Get back to the question about what’s integral to the work of an artist and find yours!
Try not to copy other artists, I’ve been there but it’s just a huge loss of time and resources, but mostly time. As an artist, you can get material, you can get ideas, but you’ll never have the same time lost again!
Practice as much as you can, while trying to be as objective about your art as possible so that you can fix your own mistakes!
even if the first months or even years you don’t feel like you progressed , never forget that drawing is a work of muscle , you’ll eventually memorize the right moves to draw such or such things and will get better even if slowly.
Establish your own learning curve, because following tutorials will only make you able to draw the way it was shown to you in the said tutorial, from scratch till you make it! And most importantly, never look down on your work, and respect the effort you put into making it! Don’t get too confident though! That is as bad as seeing every artwork you make as trash!
Just whenever you feel bad about your art quality, look at your own previous work and compare them. Give yourself credit when due! And never look at another artist’s work and think ‘I’ll never be able to get to this level’, becoming as good as X is not your goal and never should be! And remember that that X is probably looking at another artist’s work and thinking the same! So don’t stop there.”
As usual, we decided to finish this inspiring and heartening interview with some non-professional questions about MR SYRUS’s personal likings.
Q1: Favorite Tunisian and non-Tunisian Youtubers?
A1: “We’re still a very green community in the Tunisian YouTube , there are not as big productions as there should be on YouTube , but if I have to choose I’ll probably pick Hardware TN, Nova, Draw my science, Autre, hor cujet and Shiki’s stupid comics .
As for non-Tunisians it’d take days to list!
A few are Joueur du grenier, Aienkei, Dirtybiology, philip defranco, mewtendoo, datageule, vsauce, jontron and gamegrumps (but this is a very short list, others might get featured in tayyar lfadda …what a shameless self-promotion…)”
Q2: Favorite music type/band/artist?
A2: “I don’t really have a favorite type or band/artist, I listen to pretty much everything except boring and theme rehashing pop songs whether Arabic or foreign! I like EDM as much as Rock genres and sub-genre, jazz, indie, lounge and hip-hop/trip hop, it all depends on either the mood I’m in, or the activity that I’m doing and how much the music can help focus or sooth.”
Q3: Favorite movies/series/anime?
A3: “Another hard question XD! For the movies I’d say Mr. nobody, Old boy and the pursuit of happiness, for series I’ll pick sons of anarchy, Boston legal and Sherlock. As for anime I’ll say full metal alchemist brotherhood, jojo’s bizarre adventure, space brothers and school rumble.”
Q4: Favorite place to live in?
A4: “the outskirts of a city, not too far from points of interest nor too close, preferably in a modern cottage.”
Q5: Favorite Time to live in?
A5: “I’d say this time period! Right now we’re neither too dependent on technology nor on men. Plus I wouldn’t go for a more fantasy choice like middle age or post apocalypse even if I like these, because the chances of surviving in these times are, as fictional as the idea I could switch time periods to begin with XD !”
Q6: Best dreams/Worst nightmares?
A6: “Simply living a comfortable life that allows me to keep on producing what I want to produce.
As for the nightmare, I’d go with death following a long time of suffering.”
When we talk about to MR SYRUS, a three words comes straight to my mind, a three words that I found the most eloquent and descriptive; Dedication, Creativity, and jovialness (the three words of House SLATA :p ). For the true spirit of art and ingenuity can be seen in the garish spark in MR SYRUS’s eyes. A true young artist, and specially a Tunisian one that stands high like the Colossus of Rhodes holding the flaming torch of hope for every young artist who wish to pursue his passions and dreams.
Check MR SYRUS’s work: