We Talk Pride, Plastik & Supporting The LGBTQIA+ Community With The Extraordinary Eli Rezkallah


eli Rezkallah interview

The month of June is a very special month: Pride Month! Pride is celebrated around the world with parties and parades and rainbows almost everywhere. It’s truly wonderful to see, but Pride should also be a time to reflect on the challenges the LGBTQIA+ community faces and how we can all take action to ensure equality truly transcends rainbow flags and marketing activations.

This Pride Month, we want to tell the story of one incredible creator, a true visionary, and a real role model for the community, Eli Rezkallah. Yes, that’s the Eli Rezkallah, the Founder and Creative Director of Plastik Magazine and Plastik Studios, and the fine-art photographer, video director, and visual artist behind some of the most iconic visual creations of the last decade.

Eli Rezkallah: self-portrait © Courtesy of Plastik Studios 2020

Eli was born in Beirut and grew up in the middle of war-torn Lebanon, and it’s here that the inspiration for his creative vision began. Being surrounded by women who ‘put on a good face while turning a blind eye towards their country’s tense social-political situation,’ inspired Eli’s unique vision and expression through art. His work shows beautiful, surreal settings and subjects that dramatically contrast with the bubblegum world they find themselves in.


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A post shared by Eli Rezkallah (@elirezkallah)

Now, Eli uses his vibrant Plastik platform to showcase young talents and their work and his own unique vision with the world. Today, we’re sharing his story, journey, and wisdom with you as he talks about Pride, self-love, beauty, and his experience navigating Lebanon as a queer young man.

1. Tell us about your journey to where you are now?

I started my career at the age of 14 as a stylist. At the time, I was very passionate about fashion because I thought it was the ultimate form of creative expression. It didn’t take me long to refute the fast-paced and superficial nature of fashion; I wanted to create something more timeless. I launched a creative studio at the age of 21 with a vision to launch the Middle East’s first visual magazine. Today Plastik is a publication, creative studio, and an art gallery aiming to democratize art and show more diversity and inclusion through the artists we represent and collaborate with.

2. What have been some of the most pivotal moments for you?

Some of the most pivotal moments in my career have been meeting incredible people and artists that had a huge positive impact on me as a human and my vision as an artist. I am happy to call some of these amazing people friends (Hi Huda 😊)


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A post shared by Eli Rezkallah (@elirezkallah)

3. What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome them?

I faced a lot of challenges throughout my career, but nothing compares to last year in Lebanon, where we saw the economy collapse; Lebanese people all lost their life’s savings-followed by one of the biggest blasts in modern-day history. The devastation, destruction and tragedy witnessed in my country was completely shattering. The global pandemic complicated things even further, and made this period a trying one, to say the least.

The day after the blast, I launched a fundraising campaign with Saint Hoax. We were able to raise thousands of dollars to support the creative community and rebuild our Plastik offices that were completely demolished. Shortly after, I teamed up with a group of friends and raised over half a million dollars for Lebanon in three months. This also prompted my move to the US with my partner, where I am growing my business – I feel grateful to have had the opportunity and privilege to get my life back on track, all the while being of service to my community, something I wish to continue doing.

4. Tell us a bit about your experience as a queer man and what it was like growing up in Lebanon?

Growing up queer in Lebanon in the 90s was a very harsh and lonely experience – especially back in my day when wokeness was not a thing, and the country was even more conservative. Luckily, the global conversation around the LGBTQIA+ community has changed tremendously since then, and as someone that lived before and after the internet, I am blessed to know the importance of proper representation and how that can affect one’s life tremendously. I’m sure some kids still feel alienated by their entourage for not complying with heteronormative societies, and to those kids, I say you are not alone, you are loved, things will get better, I promise!

Eli Rezkallah: self-portrait © Courtesy of Plastik Studios 2017

5. How did it feel when you were able to launch Plastik?

To put it in simple words, I became the person I was meant to be the moment that Plastik existed in my life. It offered me the best space and environment to exist and create, and that is such a blessing that I wish every single creative soul can experience in their life.

6. Plastik is so much more than a magazine! What does it mean to you, and how do you think it has impacted the world?

It is so weird being asked this question at this point in my life. In a way, Plastik is an extension of my soul, but it is also a relationship in my life – and like every relationship, it has its ups and downs. Today, I am working on reintroducing myself to Plastik after all the changes and life experiences I got these past two years; to redefine our existence together in the future. In a way, Plastik mirrors my life path and where I am at mentally and spiritually. Because it’s so organic as a platform, a lot of people identify with it. I get a lot of young creatives who tell me that the magazine inspires them to create fearlessly: there was never any holding back on my creative journey – and this is the impact I wish to have made.


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A post shared by Eli Rezkallah (@elirezkallah)

7. What do you think the beauty and media industry can do to create more visibility for the LGBTQIA+ community?

The LGBTQIA+ community has been marginalized for years, and yet they have been leaders in the beauty and media industries. Their contribution to creativity is immense and priceless.

Having the community represented in ad campaigns is crucial, but also giving these creative individuals opportunities and visibility is crucial in supporting outstanding, active members of our society.

8. Your work is beautiful and always has a story at its core. What is true beauty to you?

I think beauty is an evolving concept. My perception of it has changed so much over the years, but today I would say that beauty is happiness, kindness, and being open to the world. It is representation in all its forms, colors, and shapes, and opinions: in front of the camera, as well as behind the camera.


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A post shared by PLASTIK (@plastik)

9. What does self-love mean to you?

To me, my journey with self-love started when I became more active and started spending more time in nature. When I moved to Manhattan, I started biking to my meetings, to work lunches, and then I’d stop at a park to reset my thoughts in the middle of my busy day. I try to take care of myself and my mental health whenever I can and surround myself with inspiration.

Visiting museums is always a healing experience for me: all you’re required to do is sit and appreciate art; it is both intellectually stimulating and meditative. That is the ultimate form of self-love; being at the best of your own ability.

10. During Pride Month, what message would you like to share with our readers?

As the world gets ready to celebrate Pride Month, a triumph for the LGBTQIA+ community around the world, let’s not forget that homosexuality is still illegal and punishable by law in many parts of the world. To this day, queer people around the world are discriminated against, abused, harassed, and criminalized on the daily for their sexuality and/or gender identity.

Let’s celebrate, whilst taking action to be the voice of the voiceless. There are many ways we can support marginalized communities: buy from them, hire them, talk to them, and donate to many organizations that are doing wonderful work, like the Helem organization in Beirut.


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A post shared by Eli Rezkallah (@elirezkallah)

11. What advice would you give to others who want to follow in your footsteps in a similar creative career path?

I would say define your goals, but don’t get attached to the outcome: it’s okay to reshape your path, change your mind and revisit your ways. But most importantly, if you want to make it, never stop or give up. Find that one thing that keeps you going even in the harshest times because consistency is key.

12. What do you dream about for the future?

First and foremost, I would like to see justice served to my country. I dream of being able to generate change by creating fearlessly and doing my part in spreading love, beauty, and inclusivity. World Peace is not a cliche answer when you mean it.

We are so grateful to Eli for sharing his incredible story and wisdom with us – head over to our @hudabeauty Instagram today to see him taking over our stories and talking more about self-love and Pride. Check out more ways you can celebrate Pride this month and always, and how you can help support the LBTQIA+ community.