17 year-old Zayn Al-Qahtani, based in Bahrain, is currently majoring in Graphic Design with hope to move to England and study Fine Art. In her free time, Zayn is a freelance painter who goes by the pen name “Lunah Iris” and likes to create colourful images of people who catch her eye. Zayn‘s artistic intrigue began as a young child. “I remember being five years old and so annoyed because I couldn’t draw a star properly. I sat scribbling on my paper for a good two hours before I finally drew a (beyond perfect!) star.”
Zatasha Kiran spoke to Zayn about her talent, passion and inspiration:
Uvadahlia Magazine: Tell us a bit about your childhood and life growing up.
Zayn Al-Qahtani: My parents separated when I was very young but that was never a barrier or a limitation during my childhood – in fact, I think it widened my perspective at an early age (at around six years old). Other than that, I had a pretty normal childhood – really, really fun.
UM: Was art a big part of your life growing up?
ZA: Definitely! It was and still is. I’ve still got all my “masterpieces” (messes? masterpieces?) framed and stored in my room.
UM: Who or what inspires you to create?
ZA: Everything inspires me to create, but then again, I don’t wait for inspiration – I think waiting for an idea is pointless because ideas are inside of you. Once you actually begin, then the ideas will flow out every time.
UM: How would you describe your artistic style?
ZA: I’d like to say it’s got a bit of surrealism, and it’s very dreamy and sort of weird. I’m a mixed media artist, so that means I use a whole bunch of materials and tools to create one piece of artwork instead of just one medium.
UM: You are evidently very talented but why are you passionate about art?
ZA: Thank you! I always have an itch to create, or put my mark on something, or show the world how I see things. I use it as a medium of free expression – there are no rules in art – no politics, no laws; if you want to kiss someone, go for it! If you want to murder someone, go for it! It’s limitless and doesn’t come with negative or positive connotations except through interpretation and I love that. There’s no buoy, you just have to swim.
UM: Is art just a hobby for you or would you like to pursue a career in it?
ZA: I would do anything to make the love of my life my career as well.
UM: What’s your most treasured painting so far?
ZA: I have a very personal connection with all of my paintings! They all mean something different to me. If I HAD to pick, it would have to be “Starcrossed”. She’s a magical girl, and a lot of people feel her magic as well, it’s beautiful.
UM: Does anyone else in your family have a creative flair?
ZA: My mum paints for fun and both my parents were in the media for quite some time, so I guess they both do. Also, my cousins are creative types – they can play guitar and the piano and draw. I think it might run in the family.
UM: What has been your biggest accomplishment with art so far?
ZA: My dedication to it, honestly. I never dedicate myself to anything and I’m horribly (almost painfully and pseudo-funnily) irresponsible, so the fact that I can stick to my passion is something I’m proud of.
UM: Are there any artists that you admire?
ZA: I admire so many people’s work! Each and every one of them has their own distinct style and signature, it’s incredible. I hope to be that recognizable through my art one day.
UM: Do you have any other talents?
ZA: I sing sometimes. Also, I enjoy writing.
UM: Why did you choose to study graphic design?
ZA: I didn’t. I don’t really like it and I wanted to take fine art, but sadly that’s as close as you get to an art major in Bahrain. I’m hopefully going to be transferring soon though.
UM: You mentioned that you are planning to transfer from graphic design to fine arts, why?
ZA: Aw that’s crazy! Psychic question. Well, because graphic design puts you in a box. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a very wide box, but to me it’s still a space of confinement. You have a specific set of rules you have to follow to be a graphic designer and a specific skill set. With fine arts, you just need to know the basic skills of your way of creation, and then the world is your box. The universe is your box. (I.e – there is none)
UM: What do you feel makes your artistic style unique?
ZA: I’m not sure. I think I’m very loud with my color choices, which is something I don’t tend to see a lot. I love vibrant colors contrasting with angry or upset emotions, I feel like it enunciates the point of my art more. Also, I tend to mix a lot of things together to try to make it unique – I mix some of the colors, add materials like crystals, glitter, paper cuts, details on stock print, just anything I can find that can stick to a paper. That may sound overwhelming but it’s pretty awesome once you try it.
UM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
ZA: Even if I do answer this question I will probably be completely off the mark! Life is so unpredictable. I GUESS I see my self settling in Bali, selling my artwork in a little gallery by the beach. Hmm…