Sometimes, inspiring graphic design can show up in the most surprising of places. Take, for example, fitness influencer Malak El Ayouty’s latest programme, Fit Like Malak, which has debuted beautifully designed visuals by Cairo-based graphic designer Omar Mobarek. “Most of my projects start with sketches, pen to paper, because it's instinct for me and gives me a lot more range for my thoughts and ideas,” Omar tells It’s Nice That. “For this project, it aligned quite nicely. Malak told me that she works with every body type and develops a programme suitable for each person; it reflects change, acceptance, fluidity and connection so it was essential to capture that.” After sketching out different forms in a variety of motions (“as many as I could,” Omar says), he finally got the result for the typography he wanted. “The type is thick, thin, stretched and condensed, reflecting all the different types of forms that surround us.”
From the start, Omar knew he’d be working with body forms and took that into immediate consideration when designing the type. “I have to give credit to the people that surround me, specifically a designer I often work with, Nathalie Ashraf – she helped me develop the style from the start that I eventually fledged throughout,” Omar says. “For the icon, the founder of the brand [Malak] was the main influence, she’s strong, confident and has a really strong presence. I wanted to capture that as much as I could.” Incorporating her favourite stance of the squat into the first letter of her name (‘M’) was a little touch Omar made sure to include. “Later on we discovered a photo in her feed that looked exactly like the icon so there was a nice serendipitous moment,” he adds.
As for what constitutes Omar’s favourite elements of the design, he points to the body forms, “specifically the ones that are just nonsense”. For example, there’s one of a girl who’s lifting a bar with weights in a stretching position, one that’s doing a one-hand handstand. “Her curves throughout are not consistent, one leg bigger than the other but there’s an optical balance to her that just makes sense,” he explains. When it came to designing the actual icon for the programme, Malak and Omar meticulously went over what it could, and should, be. “We looked at every detail, her thighs, the arms, the form – she really wanted this icon to represent her and reflect her as accurately as possible, and by the end she said: ‘this is me’.”
For a designer like Omar, the challenges that always arise in these types of projects is changing the style so that the brand has its own unique identity, without losing the visual signifiers which make Omar’s work his own. “Sometimes I have a hard time sending a submission because I feel like it might have looked like something I’ve done before so I go back again and again, tweaking, adding, deleting and starting over until I eventually get that direction that finally feels new,” he shares. For any graphic designers out there who regularly work by commission, this will surely feel familiar to them.
GalleryOmar Mobarek: Fit Like Malak (Copyright © Omar Mobarek, 2023)
Omar Mobarek: Fit Like Malak (Copyright © Omar Mobarek, 2023)
About the Author
Joey is a freelance design, arts and culture writer based in London. They were part of the It’s Nice That team as editorial assistant in 2021, after graduating from King’s College, London. Previously, Joey worked as a writer for numerous fashion and art publications, such as HERO Magazine, Dazed, and Candy Transversal.