Architects know that a splash of color can completely redefine a facade, but Ramzy Masri downright drowns buildings in ecstatic rainbows that make them nearly unrecognizable. Masri—a graphic designer, not an architect—uses his tablet to transform New York City's public spaces from bland to glam with the goal of uplifting his nearly 10K Instagram followers. "New York can be a rude, lonely place and I hope my images give folks a different perspective on that," the artist tells The Creators Project.
"I love taking the grand architecture of my city and reimagining what it might look like if it was brightly painted," Masri continues. His technique is half-observation and half-intervention. "Generally I look for repetitive elements like columns, windows, or stairs. These details take well to 'rainbowifying' since a clear sequence of colors can be photo-imposed," he explains.
Ramzy Masri, Foliage, 2016. "This was probably my most time-consuming edit, as each striation on each leaf is a hand-drawn line. As soon as I saw these leaves with their graphic lines I knew I had to make this edit. Rainbow edits work on anything with a clear structure, and I like to show an organic contrast to some of the rigid architecture that exists elsewhere in my feed. Also, I'm a huge fan of ferngully so I wanted to live out this plant magic fantasy."
The series is part of a philosophy Masri calls Design Activism. The point of his art is to increase the net positivity in the universe. "I think there's an inherent joy in the work, I have a blast recoloring the images and I think that comes through to my audience. It's about imagination, fantasy and optimism," he says. "It's proof that perspective is everything, and that you can truly find joy in even the most banal situations. Also, its worth mentioning that I'm proudly gay, and I think there's something punk about reclaiming and re-envisioning the world as a giant pride parade." When he's not using his own photos of New York's skyline, Masri teams up with foreign photographers to spread his colorful take on architecture to other cities in a series called #spectrumedit.
Below, Masri offers a few selects from his repertoire.
Ramzy Masri, Soho, 2016. This building is plain white IRL and is so stately and staunch. I saw it while walking through SoHo on a Saturdayand I had this urge to change that elegance into something totally exhuberant, goofy and fabulous.
Ramzy Masri, Flatiron, 2016. This is one of the buildings that started the series. I've participated in the NYC Pride parade march a few times and I love marching past this building downtown. It's an icon of the city and creating a version with flair felt like dressing up the building in a costume appropriate to the occasion.
Ramzy Masri. Spectrum, 2016. Here's an example of a #spectrumedit featuring an account I admire @drcuerda. Most accounts I choose are architectural photography galleries, and I love adding my spin to their work.
Ramzy Masri, Tiles, 2016. Here's another time-consuming edit, but something that was totally worth it. A lot of times people ask how I have the patience to spend multiple hours on a time-consuming process like this and I think there's something really therapeutic and calming to repetitive tasks like this. Calms the mind and is a bit like a moving meditation. I chose the tile floor because this type of tiling is so trendy in NYC right now and I love taking things that are supposed to be chic and serious and making them super flamboyant.
Follow Ramzy Masri on Instagram here and visit his website here.