Safwat Saleem


Safwat Saleem is a visual artist, illustrator and graphic designer. He works in a variety of media and humor is often a key ingredient in Safwat’s work, acting as a crucial starting point for thought-provoking discussions about underlying social issues. After spending the early part of his career working solely as a graphic designer, Safwat began experimenting with different media like collage, sound, video, animation and sculpture as he slowly shifted the focus of his work toward visual art. Having experienced his childhood in the UAE as an immigrant from Pakistan, and then, as an adult, experiencing a two-decade-long naturalization process to become an American citizen, Safwat’s work focuses on the idea of belonging. His art attempts to simultaneously understand and question what it means to be a part of a community and the responsibility we have toward those who feel they don’t belong. Safwat is a TED Fellow and a recipient of Rocky Mountain Emmy and the American Advertising Awards.


Looking forward, are you optimistic about the role of graphic design in business and society?

Designers have a huge role to play in every aspect of society especially as the challenges we face continue to outpace our ability to solve them. We’ll need all our collective design know-how to build the kind of solution that people can get behind.


Have the challenges of the past two years changed the way you approach your work?

In the past two years, we witnessed the threads of our structured society begin to unravel rather quickly right in front us. That has made me question many things that I took for granted so I’ve been making a more conscious effort to focus on what’s important to me: my relationships, my family and how I use my time.