Exclusive: We Sat Down with the Master Artist Behind the Latest 7UP Designs!

Everyone is enchanted and mystified by the new designs of the 7up cans! We were delighted to get to talk with the internationally acclaimed Graphic Designer, Ghada Wali; and we tackled everything related to her new booming campaign with 7UP! Her project is a brilliant example of how innovative 3d rendering techniques can be used to create high quality and realistic images. Never have we seen a can that represents our Egyptian identity so much while maintaining a very artistic and colorful design.

Out of all forms of art, what made graphic design appeal to you the most?

My early obsession with forms, colors and shapes & patterns made graphic design my natural choice! But I started off as a painter, I always aspired to paint portraits, people, faces, eyes, emotions formed my main muse, however it was just art without a tangible function. I wanted more impact when I realized I could still be an artist, change the world and improve people’s lives through design and visual communication. – touch people’s hearts, enlighten an idea or create a movement. I didn’t think twice to join Graphic Design. The unseen hand of the graphic designer enhances and molds every area of our lives. I believe that graphic design can change the world.

How did you first get your work universally acclaimed, and in your opinion, what makes graphic design styles and techniques in Egypt distinctive from those abroad? Do you think designs are becoming universal or are we still preserving our Egyptian identity in our designs?

My heart is my compass. I work with my full heart and emotion, and I believe that it reaches the cores of people wherever they come from when it is true and genuine. One who doesn’t have a history does not have a future. I create work that is relevant to who I am and where I come from. I have gained global recognition in the works that specifically celebrate my identity. My aim is to encompass the Arab & Egyptian flavor through portraying my work on the maps of global trends. An ancient civilization has been out looked, commercialized and fallen into the abused clichés. The role of design in fostering cultures, scripts, history and finding innovative ways to preserve history while keeping up with the fast moving future is essential. A fresh eye on history’s treasures with a contemporary approach while celebrating a nation’s history with global engagement is my objective – so our beautiful Egyptian and Arab Identity can be proudly showcased to the world.

What makes a great graphic designer from your point of view?

Working with full heart and emotion. Determination of steel, Belief, and consistency. Having the sense of responsibility to use our talent to have a positive impact, awareness or greater cause. Cultural awareness is an essential asset that any designer should have. Designing brands that people could own and relate to is the only way we can make it in the constant bombardment and growth of brands. I think some of the common mistakes that designers fall into while attempting a global appeal are:
1. Copying is one of the major mistakes designers could fall into. Creating an identity by default means creating a new unique being. Copying market leaders does not mean gaining the same successes at all. Designers should always look for and magnify what makes their brand special even if it is a start-up.
2. Irrelevance, one of design’s main roles is to appeal to the market. If the identity does not relate to the target audience or the nature of the industry, then it is a failure! Relevance is not only about the target group, but also about choosing the typography, colors, and elements that reflect the nature/industry of the brand correctly.

Regarding 7Up’s campaign, why did you choose to work with vibrant colors in all designs rather than just a fixed color palette?

Using Multiple Contrasting Colors is my own signature as a designer. Also, each artwork holds its own story, I wanted to create a world and an experience of every pack that complements the era it is inspired by yet with a modern twist. My approach was very customized feel rather than generic. While still establishing a connection between all packs without losing the 7up brand feel. This was a very challenging task, especially that I am restricted to the limited number of colors that could be printed by production measures. I have experimented and explored hundreds of color combinations to achieve the final designs on the cans that you see in the market today.

Tell us more about your idea of using modern design elements to reflect a historical background within 7UP’s campaign?

The whole idea was to document and innovate the TIMELINE OF THE CHRONOLOGICAL GRAPHICAL EVOLUTION OF EGYPTIAN VISUAL CULTURE. Each can hold a different time era and illustration technique. Also, each can represents both an Egyptian factor and a brand persona.
1. EGYPT THE EMPIRE | 3100 B.C: The PHAROAH can, here the time era is ANCIENT EGYPT, the conceptual theme is the PHAROANIC TIMELESSNESS. The Visual Language is PORTRAITURE. the illustration technique is CUBISM. The Egyptian factor is HISTORY& TRUE IDENTITY. The 7up brand factor is PRIDE IN ONESELF.
2. Egypt THE KINGDOM | 1880S: The WOMAN VILLAGER can, here the time era is RURAL EGYPT, the conceptual theme is the ART OF NUBIA. The Visual Language is PATTERNS. the illustration technique is MONOLINE.
The Egyptian factor is EGYPTIAN GOVERNORATES, the 7up brand factor is PLAYFUL & BEAUTY IN DIVERSITY.
3. Egypt THE STATE | 1940S: The CAT can, here the time era is MODERN EGYPT, the conceptual theme is the DAILY PROVERBS BASED ON MYTHICAL CREATURES. The Visual Language is FLORAL & ANIMAL FIGURES. the illustration technique is ICONIC The Egyptian factor is EGYPTIAN BELIEF SYSTEMS, The 7up brand factor is ORIGINALITY & UNLEACHING THE WILDNESS.
4.Egypt THE MILLENIUM CITY LIFE | 2018 : The TRUCK ART can, here the time era is EGYPT TODAY, the conceptual theme is the KITSCH ART. The Visual Language is URBAN STREET ART. the illustration technique is HANDPAINTED & TYPOGRAPHIC LETTERING. The Egyptian factor is EGYPTIAN STREET PULSE. The 7up brand factor is HUMOR & INNERCHILD.

Did you get inspired by certain paintings or artworks for this campaign?

Of course! It takes a lot of research and scientific studying to come up with powerful design concepts with a real story. And when it comes to Egypt, we have the richest history of all times. In addition, to the international designers and artists specializing in the different design techniques, I am most importantly inspired by the works of the amazing Egyptian artist Hussein Bicar. By the Cubism Guru Pablo Picasso. By Victoria and Albert’s Museum Egyptian patterns collection. By the beautiful arts of the people of Nubia. By the artworks of the local truck drivers of Cairo who are artists by nature. inspiration has no distinctive specifications. It can be extreme, complex or a simple idea, generated from absolute infinite and unpredictable sources. Everything, everybody, everywhere inspires me.

WE SAID THIS: If you’re fascinated by her art, check Ghada Wali’s website here.