From engineering to fine arts and creativity

Artwork and story by Karim Aktouf

From engineering to fine arts and creativity - Artwork and story by Karim Aktouf
  • Artist: Karim Aktouf
  • Title: L'Art reprend ses droits
  • Description: a view from my window at Bath Spa, UK, with character inspirations from Vanessa Fortin and David Wong photos of the contemporary dance creation FABLES by Virginie Brunelle Company
  • Artwork creation date: November 2022
  • Size: 16" x 22"
  • Medium: India Ink on cotton paper and digital colouring

I graduated from the École Polytechnique de Montréal in computer engineering. I have more than 20 years of experience in engineering, more specifically software engineering, specializing in strategy and innovation. After 22 years as an engineer, I stopped everything and studied Fine-Arts full time at the Montreal's Academy of Fine-Arts.

I am now also an artist (mirak.myportfolio.com) and professor at the Montreal Academy of Fine Arts (Academ.ca); I teach design drawing at the School of Design of the University of Montreal and lead creative workshops for students, research and strategy groups, as well as for university professors and doctoral students and corporations.

I also explores 3D modeling and animation with Blender, Unity, Python, C# and video editing with Da Vinci Resolve. Oh yeah, I am also a Youtuber.

I am a member of the Board of Directors of the contemporary dance company Virginie Brunelle (virginiebrunelle.com/). I am a big big fan of contemporary dance.

During my engineering years, even though we employ similar terms for an art creation than for software code (negative space, documented, breathing, design, beauty, elegance, etc.), art as a purpose was deeply missing in my life.

Now learning and teaching art is a major part of my life and I'm much much happier this way. It stems from a deeply rooted need to tell stories with enough mastery of techniques, medium and processes to be able to convey visually what I have in mind.

One of my long haul projects is a graphic novel, a mixed media project using India Ink and Watercolour called "The Lina Effect", a story about Caroline Herschell, sister of the renowned 18th century astronomer William Herschell, discoverer of the first non visible planet to the naked eye : Uranus.

Each spread is 15 inches by 22 inches and a composition in itself. Here are some of my finished spreads : mirak.myportfolio.com/graphic-novel-project. As you can tell, I have a lot to learn, especially in the watercolour area :)

My challenge now is to evolve, learn and get to where I want to be in terms of character design, anatomy, and watercolour painting to pursue my graphic novel.

Watercolour is one of my artistic challenges. I do not know exactly why I am extremely attracted to that medium but it is a strong gravitational force; I admire watercolour masters such as Samuel Prout, Gustave Doré and Anders Zorn, and contemporary artists such as Thierry Duval and J. Hunsung. And I aspire to be able to paint as realistically and as well as they do in Watercolour. I know, it takes hardwork, dedication, perseverance and time.

I want to pursue my learning of observation drawing, human anatomy, and watercolour painting. But also drawing from imagination, character design, and continuing learning urban sketching and landscape painting in watercolour.

I am impressed by the method and generosity in the Watercolor Academy teaching process. I also like the rigor of the teaching, which is what I fell in love with at first sight at the Montreal's Academy of Fine Arts.

The reason I want to win the Watercolor Academy course is to learn and improve my skills in order to be able to portray, draw and paint what I clearly have in mind, especially for my long haul graphic novel.

People should vote for me because I love learning and teaching, because I love mixing things that do not seem to be related at first glance and create non-obvious connections between seemingly unrelated things.

Because I have a funny process : my graphic novel is a project that I use as a means to learn : ink drawing, character design, perspective, graphic novel design, storytelling, watercolour. As such, the pressure is not to finish a spread, the pressure is to develop the abilities necessary to convey what I have in mind in terms of rendering for each spread. A spread is ready and complete when I feel I have learned enough. Each completed spread is a witness of my learning process and once completed, the entire novel will be a sort of journal of my learning journey.

I want to win this Competition and I need your help!

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