Emirati manga artist dreams big

Asmaa Al Remeithi hopes to release a series of comic books and set up a dedicated comic art centre


Farhana Chowdhury

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Published: Fri 2 Dec 2016, 1:46 PM

Last updated: Mon 12 Dec 2016, 4:41 PM

When Asmaa Saeed Al Remeithi began to draw at a tender age of six, little did she think that it would blossom into a full-time passion, let alone win the Abu Dhabi Comic Award 2016 from Abu Dhabi Music and Art Foundation (ADMAF), a recognition that seeks to nurture talents within the society and contribute towards the emirate's cultural vision.
Taking inspiration from several art styles, she had developed a fondness for comic art in particular and spent her teen years drawing semi-realistic portraits and nature landscapes with pencils and oil colours, while doodling her favourite characters from popular anime (Japanese cartoons) and manga (Japanese comics) on the side.
"When I enrolled in university, however, I was surprised to find many others following a similar art style, which motivated me to improve my skills," she added.
Her hobby soon led to the birth of a quirky purple-haired character, Asami, which was destined to become the face of an ambitious business project. In 2013, Asami ART was established as a channel of expression and an online store for art commissions and fan goods. 

"Since my character (Asami) received a lot of attention and love from people on social media, I decided to make merchandise related to it," she said. To date, her character collection is featured on phone covers, mobile charms, notebooks, mugs, and even t-shirts and jackets.
The journey to become a full-fledged manga artist, however, has not been an easy one, added Asmaa. Juggling many roles, she has been solely responsible for running the official website, receiving orders from customers, and coordinating with print houses, aside from brainstorming her next comic book plot. She also actively participates in various conventions, often setting up a booth to showcase her creations.

"It is a lot of hard work, but this is what I love and enjoy doing, and I intend to continue down this path," she chipped in.
Since quitting a full-time government job, Asmaa has been focused on taking Asami ART to greater heights. Armed with a dream to release her own comic book series and set up a dedicated centre for comic art, she is currently working on three stories packed with original characters, one of which - titled Turning Point - received recognition from ADMAF this year.

"Comic art or animation is more than just a beautiful painting on a wall. It is a different world that takes you inside other worlds at the same time. We express ourselves through art by drawing our own characters that act as our alter ego in another dimension. I enjoy using social media to express myself through original characters and showcase bits of my daily life to viewers in my own unique way," concluded the Abu Dhabi citizen.
"Rather than highlight artist influence in particular (as I love and adore so many artists' styles), there are some manga artists, such as Tokimeki Tonight's Koi Ikeno and One Piece's Eiichiro Oda, whose storyline alone inspired me to pursue a path in comic art."

Advice to aspiring artists
"Practice makes perfect, and do not give up on your dreams. Always listen to critics and do not take them personally. If you want to grow, you should take all feedback and use them to develop yourself, and become a better person and a better artist. Please keep in mind that we as artists might be too focused on our art that we do not see flaws. If more than one person gave you a certain feedback about your art, then you should take that seriously. This is the only way to improve."

Message for the UAE National Day
"I would like to take this opportunity to wish every citizen and resident of the country a very Happy National Day! It has been 45 years since the UAE was formed, and I am very proud of my country's success in every field. Let us work for a greater cause in supporting the vision of the Rulers of the country. May Allah bless the UAE forever."

- farhana@khaleejtimes.com

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