Eid Al Fitr: This 22-year-old artist has designed Eideyyah cards
Majd Shaker Jaha’s work is inspired by Arab culture and Arabic calligraphy.
As a child, she’d closely observe the embroidery on clothes, the motifs on buildings and even the engravings on dishes. She started to dabble with art and as she grew up everyone around kept telling her how beautiful her drawings were. “Like many artists, I developed my passion for drawing when I was very young. I loved looking at the embroidery, motifs, engravings etc. would try to recreate these,” says Majd Shaker Jaha, a 22-year-old Saudi artist and Arabic calligrapher.
Today, she has successfully turned her passion into a profession with the launch of her web- site, MJD Studio. She has also authored two educational books on watercolour techniques, Learn to Paint with Water- colours and Learn to Draw Flowers. If not an artist she says she would have become an architect or an interior designer.
For her most recent project, Majd collaborated with Amazon.sa to create exclusive designs for special Eid-themed eGift cards. Her designs capture the beauty of this special time of year and offer the perfect way to send the traditional ‘Eideyyah’ to loved ones digitally. We learn more about her journey.
What is your definition of art?
An aesthetic way in which an artist expresses their feelings through drawing, music, writing, or other creative means.
Did you study art as a subject?
I majored in public administration at King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, and so did not have the opportunity to study art as my major. I taught myself through my practice during high school. What made me choose this path was the people around me, who would tell me how nice my drawings were. They encouraged me to follow my passion for art, and I am grateful to have successfully turned this into my career.
Tell us about your thought process when you approach a subject?
First I think about the content, whether it’s a drawing or a manuscript, and then I sketch without the patterns and colours. Then I look into my surroundings, including things such as the nature around me, patterns on clothes and so on, to gain inspiration to develop the design elements. After this, I develop a mood board where I add the design elements and start incorporating these elements to the sketch, then colour it. The final step is to digitalise the design on my computer and add the finishing touches.
What does a day in the life of Majd look like pre and during the pandemic?
I wake up early in the morning to go to college, which is located in a different city from where I live. Once I have finished, I spend the rest of the day and night drawing, painting, and developing content. During the summer and holiday periods, I spend my mornings writ- ing educational or cultural content, and the afternoons sketching, drawing, or designing until midnight. When we were in quarantine, I spent four hours working on writing content, six hours drawing and designing, and two hours on social media, posting the content and responding to comments.
Are there any particular themes you like to work with? And any specific colours?
I like to work with bright colours such as pink, blueish-green and light purple. The combination of cold colours with a touch of pink gives freshness to my work. I love to draw flowers and plants, especially when combining them with Arabic calligraphy. I also enjoy painting dishes and plates.
Have you been to Dubai?
No, I have not been to Dubai yet, but I have often looked it up online. I can’t wait to visit the UAE, and especially its heritage areas and museums. Luckily, it’s not that far from me... we are neighbours!
Painting, calligraphy, writing books... What is it that you enjoy the most?
Usually, drawing is my base. Then I combine my drawing with calligraphy, and finally, I write educational books to teach my style. I can say I enjoy all three processes.
A message for artists who are starting out?
We are all born with a gift, and for artists, this is not tied to academic certificates — creativity has no guidelines or limits. The world is big and full of knowledge and opportunities. There is always a need for fresh art styles, therefore artists should go out and explore. It’s also worth considering investing time in art forms other than painting such as drawing or designing and selling your creations by printing them on products.
What is the one art revolution you wish to see in the art world, Middle East and globally?
Art is for all ages and genders. And artists deserve to be appreciated for their work in various forms.