The art scene in Bahrain has been impressively growing and expanding lately, bringing a lot of young talented Bahrainis to the forefront. Neda Jahrami, is one such artist. At 21, Neda has established her own unique style of work and continues to experiment with her work in the most creative and unconventional ways.

Here’s Neda’s story on how she went from drawing cartoons to creating Nedart and all the learnings she had along the way.

How it all started

I used to draw since I was a kid but never took it seriously because I didn’t think I was great at it. I would basically copy cartoons and characters and recreate them. Regardless of the outcome, I enjoyed the process. I loved creating things.

About 2 years ago, I started experimenting more with art and trying out new styles and started painting more spontaneously. I put my paintings up on Instagram, with no purpose really, and started getting a lot of good feedback which kept me going and experimenting. I started trying new ways and methods like painting with a straw or painting on leaves.

When I first started sharing my artwork on social media, people started asking if they could buy it. Back then I didn’t really understand why anyone would want to buy them and would just give them out for free. My main goal was to just make art and exhibit it. My first exhibit was at my university. Putting out my work brought me some exposure and made me realize that people would actually want to own my artwork.

I was encouraged to start an Instagram account to sell my art. I also started participating in events and markets and started creating products to be sold, like stickers, paintings on leaves and mini canvases. It started with the Nest last year in 2016, where I showed my work in public for the first time and the response was surprisingly good.

To me, it’s all about spreading my art and creating things people would actually enjoy. I only make what I enjoy, if I don’t enjoy it then it doesn’t come out great. I try not to see it as a business as I think that would affect the art. I see each piece as unique, it does take more time than say printing or copying would, but that’s the way I want to do it.

Managing the pressure

Trying to manage my studies while also having to create artwork, prepare for events and such can be very frantic but it did teach me time management and managing my workload. I don’t like to be too involved in just one thing. I think it’s important, especially for university students, to have something to help clear their head, be it some sort of a hobby or anything else, just to not be too involved in only studies and have a creative outlet.

Social media is a big aspect of my work and how I reach my audience. When I look at art, it is important for me to connect with the artist, which is why I try to not disconnect myself as a person from my art. Although it's my main focus, I don't keep my social media strictly for art and like to show other parts of my life and my other interests and hobbies.

I do get negative feedback sometimes, but it’s mostly just trolling, which I personally find funny. However, I am always looking for real feedback whether good or bad and find that it helps me improve. Constructive criticism is always welcomed.

One drawback of sharing my work on social media would be that it is not protected. Some accounts had reposted my work without permission and did not credit me. The posts went viral and the original accounts refused to credit my work. Though it was a bit annoying at first, it doesn’t mean much because I still have the original physical artwork, and all that matters is that people perceive my art in a positive way.

You don’t have to be ‘born with it’

I was quite self-conscious about my work in the beginning and never felt comfortable sharing it. That changed when I actually started getting positive feedback and pushed me to create and share more of my work.

I’ve learned that you don’t have to be born with a talent in order to pursue something. People think that if you want to be an artist or a musician, you have to be born with it or you have to pursue it at a young age. To me, I started 2 years ago and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. I believe that you can be good at anything as long as you keep practicing and not put so much pressure on yourself.

I never took any courses, I would watch a few YouTube videos here and there, but I mainly learned by trying different things and that’s what I think everyone should do. A lot of people put too much pressure on themselves, they take art classes or try to meet a certain goal and they forget that they should just have fun and express themselves. That type of pressure, I think just leads to frustration and takes the creativity out of the process. It's a process and it’s all about practice, just keep practicing. Using other people’s work for inspiration is great but it is also important to have your own sense of style. A lot of my inspiration mainly comes from personal thoughts and experiences, but also from other artworks, books, movies or even music. I also recreate famous artists’ work which helps me understand their styles rather than just reading about them, which helped me a lot in my own work.

The most important thing is to be original and have fun with it. It is good to take inspiration but having a part of yourself in your work is what gives it a unique quality.

Najma Ghuloom

A curious mind and a wandering soul, in love with the idea that learning never stops. Constantly on the lookout for stimulating ideas and transformative thoughts. A great believer in the potential of enlightened human lives and currently trying to make that happen through Majra.

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