When looking at the digital artworks created by Mohammad Alhaj – founder of Mo Studio – there's no doubt that you'll go into an instant state of calm. With serene, pastel colour palettes and scrumptious textures, Mo's depiction of the world around him is, well, completely relaxing.
Inspired by the natural world, Mo sculpts 'all sorts', from rainbow mountain tops to squishy stars and fuzzy bears to squiggly shapes. Whatever he makes, everything is sprinkled in a signature dose of Mo – i.e. cleverly put together and arranged in a beautiful composition. "I find joy in the organic forms, and I appreciate its randomness," he says.
Besides the landscape, Mo also draws inspiration from architectural greats like Zaha Hadid and Ma Yansong, whose work is drawn heavily from the digital realm, utilising digital tools and parametricism (an architectural style based on computer technology) "to execute beautiful futuristic buildings". He adds: "Having said that, I can be inspired by truly anything, an emotion I'm feeling at the time, a pretty face I've come across or a funny looking falafel ball. My imagination is the limit here."
Originally from Syria, Mo was born in Abu Dhabi and moved to England at the age of 18 to pursue a degree in Architecture. Upon graduating, he worked on a handful of architectural and interior design projects before slowly becoming less and less interested in the discipline. "It felt quite restrictive to my imagination, and I decided to take a step back to a more imaginative or raw form of art," he explains. As such, Mo blossomed an interest in the world of 2D art and started to forge a new career in this corner of the creative industry. "It felt like the perfect getaway and where I felt the most freedom."
When building a design, Mo will usually commence the process with a rough idea and "follow [his] feelings". It's an intuitive method that allows him to have fun with the process and journey, usually resulting in a piece that he'll find aesthetically pleasing. It's hard for Mo to pick out a favourite piece from his portfolio, especially since once it's published online, he's more than ready to start the next one. But if he really had to, it's What's In My Bag #173 that he likes the most. A recent artwork was made as part of a collection of random objects that "don't exist outside my computer screen", he shares. Yet despite being a completely fictional world, the piece is based on realistic objects that he would find in his own backpack if he were to live here. "I find it really silly and sarcastic, which is probably a recurring theme in my artworks and the names I give them," he says.
Another piece, titled Only Little, is one that he created in 30 minutes. Although a quick creation, it resonates with Mo largely because he sees it as a pure reflection of himself: "roughed up, messy, asymmetrical but still smiley and joyful". Labyrinth #132 is another artwork that he likes, namely for the "weird connection" he has to it. "It may be the colours, the form of the way it makes me feel… or all of these reasons combined."