Getting to know the man behind Xero Error
The profile of Ashraf Ghori: artist, animator and entrepreneur.
November 23, 2012 9:45 by M. Aldalou
Best known among GCC residents for animated feature Xero Error, Ashraf Ghori is what some would call a home-grown icon with a large and loyal social media following.
His self-funded 8-minute film won recognition at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival. He is the founder and current CEO of Dubai-based digital design agency Xpanse CGI and is an award winning artist and filmmaker.
Q) Do you have any memories of being called a ‘nerd’ or ‘geek’ for being artistic?
Back when I was a kid, geek stuff like comic books and collectibles were almost an unspoken enemy. Drawing or reading comics were akin to waste of time as pointed out often by the grown-ups. They’d frown down upon them since they thought my grades would mess up as a consequence. It’s a good thing I managed to do well at school too. Our late School Principal (may he rest in peace) caught me doodling in class and gave me an earful. A few years later I received a certificate from him for ‘outstanding achievement in art’.
Q) When did you discover you had a talent for drawing? When did you realize that this talent could then be used for animation?
There was never a specific moment in time where I discovered art. As far as I remember and even beyond that I’ve always had that Staedtler #2 pencil in hand. I’ve always had the urge to draw; even obscure things like tree leaves or Kinder Egg toys would inspire or compel me to draw them out.
3D Animation on the other hand (pun unintended), came in much later in life: mid-90’s to be precise. Again it started as a hobby with experimentation. Word got around and I got my first animated TV commercial soon after which helped me start off with freelance animation.
Q) Do you remember some of the first things you ever drew?
The earliest drawing of mine that I can remember is a box-like car drawn out with washable colour markers. A few straight lines connected together to form a ‘3D’ car. My earliest hobby was collecting toy cars. I would save my pocket money, go buy the latest model cars from the supermarkets, and try to capture them on paper.
Q) What is your favourite and worst childhood memory?
My favorite memory from childhood – that’s a tough one. It could be the moment when my Mom introduced me to chocolate or the first time ever I saw a friend of my Dad’s drawing on a piece of paper which inspired me to have a go at it myself.
Although we as a family have seen good and bad times financially, that to me was never a bad experience. My parent never ever made me feel we were going through a tough time. I thank God that I don’t have a ‘worst’ memory from an unremarkable childhood. Although once while riding my BMX bike, I was chased by a large ferocious dog for several blocks.
Q) Some launch companies to make money, some start them purely out of passion and some feel they were born to be entrepreneurs. Where do you stand?
I was oblivious to the word ‘Entrepreneur’ when I started my company in 2007. I had done freelance work with many advertising agencies and clients for about 10 years. When I thought my client base had grown considerably, I wanted to brand my services under my own company. The objective from day 1 was to offer a better grade of work & service through my company which would also help me grow professionally. I knew the money was secondary and would follow when I concentrated foremost on client satisfaction and quality work.