At the age of 18, Maya Zankoul moved from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia to Lebanon to study graphic design at Notre Dame University. This move and other travels awakened her eye for capturing life through unique yet relatable illustrations.
Upon graduation, Zankoul worked in graphic design for a Saudi-based offshore company in Beirut. The corporate world quickly became boring for Zankoul, and she decided to create her own business: a blog featuring her illustrations.
“I try for my illustrations to always represent situations that people can easily identify with,” said Zankoul. They struck a chord with a Lebanese audience that recognized many scenes from their own lives.
Her blog, Amalgam, led to the publication of her first book with the same title in the summer of 2009. Shortly after, Amalgam Vol. 2 was published in 2010. Zankoul’s two books contain a compilation of some of her most popular blog posts.
In the summer of 2015, Zankoul made the 5,604-mile journey from Beirut to New York City. To her surprise, she discovered the two cities are very much alike through daily life. After returning to Beirut and reflecting on her trip, she sketched common characteristics between them and found it interesting that “some of the elements that we are willing to travel across the world to experience are present right here, yet somehow we devalue them or forget about them,” as she said in her blog. Her list of similarities kept growing and became a set of 40 illustrations that she turned into a book, Beirut-New York, in 2016.
Since the publication of the book, Zankoul has launched a channel of animated videos in Arabic for young children on Lila TV and developed a colorful calendar, Eat the Seasons, that is designed to help you eat the fruits and vegetables that are in season.
When Zankoul was younger she thought she would be a fashion designer, but today she can’t see herself doing anything other than illustrating life as she sees it.
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