For Khalid Mezaina, lightning struck at university while learning the art of screen-printing. This new skill coupled with his love for collecting t-shirts transformed this Emirati graphic designer, illustrator and artist into an entrepreneur with the launch of his very own line of designer products which range from t-shirts, wallpapers and prints to bags and even stationary. The products ooze an electro-pop feel of mixing and interpreting traditional designs with a contemporary culture.

krossbreed, which launched in 2010, draws inspiration from Mezaina’s love for comic books, music, and Dubai’s dynamic landscape and its people.

Did you always know you wanted to be part of the creative industry?
I always knew I wanted to be a part of the creative industry because I was a creative person at a very young age. I loved drawing, and my fascination with comic books inspired and nurtured my talent. Also, I think I knew that the creative world was a place I would be happy in; because it’s the only thing I am really good at (the business/corporate world is definitely not for me!)

What is your design philosophy?
A lot of my designs are based on traditional/cultural aspects from Emirati heritage, and representing them in a contemporary manner. My designs are also heavily based on my influences and interests, including music, fashion, comics, the city I live in (Dubai), and its people. I want to create good, significant design that originates from the region.

What has been the toughest challenge so far?
My toughest challenge so far has been (and still is) trying to balance my professional career with my personal one. While having a full-time job (as project coordinator at Tashkeel), it can be difficult to make time for krossbreed. But for me, this is all a positive learning experience and I am confident that I will figure out a balance.

What has been your greatest accomplishment?
My greatest accomplishment is definitely getting krossbreed off the ground and having it recognized by the public. Even though I have just launched it a few months ago, people can distinguish my work andkrossbreed products are definitely appreciated and in demand. I am definitely proud of this achievement and can’t wait to take it to the next stage and let it grow even further.

What do you feel is the role of the designer?
In university, I learnt the role of a designer is to be a problem solver. I also think that the role of the designer is to connect with a person’s emotions. I personally want my designs to make an individual smile, laugh or have a sense of nostalgia, because in today’s world, we don’t get to do that as often as we should.

If you were to be remembered for one thing, what would you like it to be?
I would like to be remembered for always making people laugh! Be it on a personal level or through my designs. I always try to have a positive attitude. Therefore, I hope this reflects in my work and people can remember me by it.

Where do you hope to be in ten years?
In ten years, I hope krossbreed is an established lucrative brand that I can survive on and its products, especially its t-shirts, which are recognized and always popular. I hope to be in a place where I am satisfied and proud of my achievements.

What is your advice for young aspiring designers and entrepreneurs?
Always follow your passion and make sure you achieve your goals. Always be inspired by things around you, and make sure your designs reflect who you are. I always believe that the best designs are the ones that reflect your individuality and your personal interests.

Are you working on any new projects?

I just got back from a two-month artist residency in London for a project during the Shubbak Festival. I was invited by the Emirates Foundation and the Delfina Foundation to work on a project in London, alongside the art/design collective Public Works creating products for a ‘FEAST’ at Westfield shopping mall. It was an amazing experience and I learnt so much from it.

To read more – buy our latest issue ( Autumn 2011) out in stores nationwide and available online