Creating new perspectives since 2009

‘Art is just one way to keep stories in the light’, says Palestinian illustrator

Omar's artistic journey highlights the transformative power of art in amplifying voices, fostering hope, and sustaining awareness of critical social issues.

March 4, 2024 at 1:48 pm


In the realm of art, colours serve as messengers, conveying tales of struggle, resilience and hope. One Palestinian illustrator, Omar, has emerged as a powerful voice in using digital illustrations to tell the story of his people. “I really wanted my art to represent the Palestinian struggle,” Omar says.

Omar’s artistic journey gained significant momentum since 7 October 2023, when his Instagram followers went from 500 to over 24,000 in just five months. This surge in attention prompted Omar to reflect on the messages he wished to convey through his art.

“It would be unfair of me to focus on the destruction, and only that part of what they are experiencing when it takes a lot of energy and a lot of power from somebody living this, yet they are resilient, yet they are finding the bright side,” he told MEMO, adding that he seeks to connect the plight of the Palestinians to broader global struggles throughout history and across the world.

Omar’s deliberate use of vibrant colours, even when depicting tragic scenes, serve as a visual representation of hope and resilience for the Palestinian people. Despite the atrocities and massacres, Omar’s chosen colourful palette, he explains, aims to convey that life persists and Palestinians will find ways to live, cope and move forward

“I’m really inspired by the resilience of the Palestinian people, and I wanted to show that even with the colours.”

The colourful scenes illustrated stand in stark contrast to the grimness of the depicted situations. It’s a deliberate choice to remind viewers that life continues, even after tragedy and atrocities and to remain hopeful about the future.

Omar believes that by highlighting the positive aspects of the struggle, he can inspire others to keep pushing for change and justice. However, he is concerned about the future. Art, for him, is not just a means of expression; it’s a weapon to keep stories and issues alive, preventing them from fading into obscurity.

In expressing his concerns about the potential aftermath of a ceasefire, Omar speaks to the danger of people forgetting about Israrel’s violations of international law, genocide and war crimes that have been taking place in Gaza over the past few months. He emphasises the need to sustain momentum in pushing for change, as politicians often rely on the fading of public attention to continue their actions unchecked.

His commitment to the cause is evident in his decision not to sell his art or accept donations. All his illustrations are accessible for demonstrations, exhibitions and use by activists. “I made most of the art available on a website,” he said, expressing a reluctance to even ask for donations. Instead, he encourages people to use his art for meaningful purposes, such as demonstrations or exhibitions.

Omar’s artistic journey highlights the transformative power of art in amplifying voices, fostering hope, and sustaining awareness of critical social issues. Through his colourful and poignant illustrations, he strives to ensure that the world does not forget the struggles faced by the Palestinian people, promoting a message of resilience, hope, and the ongoing pursuit of justice.

Dispatch from Gaza: Drawing hope from Rafah’s ruins