If ever there was a multi tasking, multi talented, creative; then the dual business owner/university professor, Mohamed Danawi would be it. Mohamed was born in Ghana, raised in Lebanon, and pursued his studies in France and Canada. After establishing Moahmed Danawi Studio in Montreal in 1994, he went on to be the Illustration Department Chair from 1997 to 2001 at SCAD-Savannah College of Art and Design. Currently, he is teaching graduate and undergraduate classes as a professor of illustration at one of the largest illustration department in the United States. While simultaneously moulding young creative minds at one of the most prestigious art’s universities in the U.S, Mohamed also founded the one of the kind illustration agency, representing illustrators, designers and animators from all over the world. Sketchbook talks to Mohamed to learn more about what it’s like managing an agency purely run on illustrations.
Where did the idea for Illozoo come from?
Throughout my teaching career I have taught several incredible students and I wanted to form an agency to represent them, market and promote them. I believed that I can get them more exposure if I represented them collectively. I also wanted to create a pool of talents that represents global illustration and market it around the world. I enjoy the business side of this field and wanted to put it in into practice through promotion, social networking and innovative promotion ideas. Several students and fellow illustrators showed interest and joined in, that’s how illozoo was established.
How many illustrators did you begin with and how much has the number grown since then?
I started the agency with around 30 illustrators and we now represent 74 illustrators from 35 countries ranging from fresh up and coming talents to veteran and world renown.
What makes Illozoo approach and process different from other creative agencies?
We are a comprehensive agency. We represent visual thinkers, designers, illustrators, animators, props-makers, fine artists, muralists, filmmakers, covering every aspect of the field from advertising and fashion to children’s books, packaging design, concept art and comics. Our artists specialize in every traditional and digital medium offering a variety of beautifully executed creative solutions. We don’t only market to art directors and creatives, we prepare pitches and presentations and we meet with our clients to show them how our illustrations fit , how their products could be enhanced with our graphics or how we could promote their event, business or cause. We meet with our potential corporate clients and prepare packages that gets their attention. We are also very global, with offices in Dubai, Paris and London and a home base in the United State. We are a combination of creative talent, public relations experts and tireless promoters. My global contacts helps me orchestrate a very wide and multi-layered network of businesses, gallery owners, creative writers, journalists, representatives, art directors, creative designers, publishers, socialites and schmoozers.
Give our readers a few examples of the different styles, techniques, and creative solutions the artists of Illozoo offers?
Looking at our gallery of artist at illozoo.com and on our Behance page, one can get a good idea of the variety of styles and conceptual approaches we offer our clients. Some of our clients or art directors know exactly who they want to work with based on the look they are after or based on the subject matter or product advertised. Others ask us to propose to them the prefect illustrator for the job. We meet and talk to them about what they have in mind, what they are looking to achieve, their target audience, their aesthetics, in addition to their deadline and budget, all that data helps us prepare a more comprehensive presentation of portfolios they need to look at and artists they might consider working with.
What would you say was the main takeoff point for Illozoo, or the moment it began to gain more popularity?
We are very selective in terms of who we represent and how we represent them. We make sure every artist is unique and unparalleled at the agency. Each of the 74 artist commands a technique a way of thinking, designing, creating and expressing that set him or her apart from everyone else. We are comprehensive, our standards of excellence are very high and we deliver multiple solutions in a unique, always fresh and creative fashion. We accommodate every aspect of the job given to us and we very often produce award winning results. Clients admire that and keep coming for more. Right now with our 74 very carefully selected artists, we are totally at maximum capacity and stopped accepting new artists so we can better focus on each one of them, curate their gallery, update their work and advise and give constant feedback.
Who are the Illozoo clients and what creative solutions have you given them?
There is a partial list on the website. I will also send you photographs of published work and illustrations within context of products, murals, window display, magazine covers, posters, product packaging design, billboards, collaterals, toys, children’s and e-books, stamps, bus sides, etc.
What are your future plans for Illozoo?
We want to market in the Gulf and establish a presence there (hence why I reached out to you+Wafa) especially Bahrain, Qatar and UAE. While we continue to do business and promote in North America and Europe, we believe the Gulf region as well as East Asia are major emerging markets for global illustration and creative visual communications. We already have offices in Dubai and marketing and networking tirelessly.
Eventually, I would like to add two more agencies. One that represents photographers and photo designers and the other that represents models. The idea is that Illozoo with its two sister agencies would be a creative power house offering every service needed in the creative field of Design, Advertising, Marketing and Visual Communication.
visit illozoo.com to see more of the agencies work.
WORDS: BADRIYA AL- MAHMEED
Images courtesy of illozoo.com and Mohamad Danawi.