Extraordinary Fighter

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Karima Farid meets Safiya Al Bahlani, an artist, a freelance graphic designer, and also an inspirational and motivational speaker. But above all she is a fighter, who has used her passion as her weapon to win over every challenge that has come her way

‘She believed she could, so she did.’ This is the first thing that comes to mind every time I have met Safiya Al Bahlani throughout the years.

Safiya is extraordinary; a fighter who learnt what her passion was from a young age. Ever since she could remember, she was always interested in doing more for people and giving back to the world in every way she can.

“EVERYONE IS BORN FOR A REASON, A PURPOSE, A MISSION. THEY MAY NOT KNOW IT WHEN THEY ARE BORN, THEY MAY NOT KNOW IT IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR LIVES, OR MAYBE UNTIL THE VERY END, YET EVERYONE IS BORN FOR A PURPOSE.”

This creative soul found herself through classrooms, day-to-day activities, and college. Safiya challenged herself at every opportunity; and is still doing that in style. Just this Ramadan, Safiya launched her daily mosque challenge and excelled in it. You  can find all these beautiful portraits on her Instagram account @safiya_arts

As she grew up, her aim became clear; to bring people together for a good cause, something she learnt from her amazing mother, the Honourable Sabah Al Bahlani. The bond that she created with her art had implanted strong roots within her, and resulted in embedding happiness and hope in all the children and adults she interacts with. Safiya uses her talent to communicate with people around her.

Safiya describes herself as an energy elastic band because she is constantly working to excel. From working in a film production company as a story-writer, to becoming a freelance graphic designer, this artist has nearly done it all. 

Today, she’s a public speaker, and an Arts teacher. Safiya’s topic at TedxRoseville, Switzerland was ‘Challenge is your weapon’ and in 2013 TedxMuscat, ‘The Chosen’. She also was featured at SAM global events. I urge you to watch these segments, because they will touch your soul. Safiya’s very first solo exhibition was during her time in Jordan, pursuing higher education. She showcased 38 pieces that she worked on during her time there. Safiya is also an Al Mar’a Excellence Awards winner.

After a few years of freelancing and a series of successful collaborations, Safiya decided to take it to the next level and established herself as a small business owner. She has recently opened an art studio and is teaching different styles while utilizing that space during her free time. There is so much potential in this inspiring young woman, and we at The Woman Oman are so proud of her.

Safiya is definitely able, we wish her all the best.

WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN ARTS?

“Arts have been a tool for me to express my frustrations as a child and growing
up. Everything I went through daily was expressed. The happiness, the sadness, the funny moments and the painful ones were all expressed. As I built my relationship with my art, I always wanted it to be perfect, making beautiful art pieces. However, I realised it wasn’t about creating a pretty picture, and proving to the world what I can do. For me, arts are about telling a story, sharing a piece of me to the world.”

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

So many things inspire me. I inspire myself when I fight battles in my head, and when I have a challenge and I wonder if I can actually do it. Once I have done it; that’s another reason to be inspired. Some may say it’s being selfish to look at myself this way, but I believe we are our own heroes. To challenge yourself is far harder than when someone else does, because you continue to set the bar higher, as you believe you can do it. Of course my inspiration comes from the community around me, and what my eyes fall upon. My eyes are my camera. They capture everything, and store in my memory. My running mind then feeds me the captures and slowly I am drawn to create my pieces.”

HOW DID SAFIYA ARTS COME TO LIFE?

“Safiya Arts came to life in the beginning of 2013. I knew that I had so much more to offer in arts and creativity, which I wasn’t able to give to as much when I was working in a company. I chose Safiya Arts, because it is my name. The meaning behind the name is purity and wisdom. I was just known as the girl who have fingers and paints. When I started being recognised as Safiya, that in itself felt like an accomplishment, a tiara to proudly wear. Therefore, I proudly named it Safiya Arts.”

 

HOW DO YOU COPE WITH THE DAY-DAY BUSINESS?

“My business day starts at 9am and I check all the pending emails that I need to answer, or any other administration work that I need to do till 10am. I then work on the graphic design part, whether it is designing a logo and branding, or creating a poster for different clients, etc. This goes on to early afternoon, say around 2pm. I then start preparing for art classes that I have to teach. I hold art classes from 3:30pm till 5pm and sometimes till 7pm. On days that I don’t have classes to teach I focus on my arts and design and also creating new pieces. 

“There are times when I have a lot of work and deadlines to meet, it’s hard but I manage. I have a wonderful jewellery designer Hannah Al Lawati, who has come on board this year to help me teach arts. We collaborated and with her expertise in arts and crafting, and mine in drawing and painting, we do so much together. We help each other out. Sometimes she takes the full class on her own so that I can meet my deadlines, and vice versa.”

WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE?

“As a small emerging business, not everyone believes in the work you do, so it is a continuous challenge, amid the vast competition, to prove you are worth working with. This is related to the graphic design area. As for the art classes, we still lack the knowledge and appreciation of art. The
art culture is a huge platform that needs to be touched and built upon. People need to realise that art can potentially enrich our young people, and you don’t necessarily need to be an ‘artist’ to learn art.”

“NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE, AND BEING PERFECT ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST; HOWEVER DOING YOUR BEST IS WHAT REALLY MATTERS. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE RISKS.”

WHAT DO YOU NEED FOR YOUR BUSINESS TO IMPROVE?

“For my business to improve, I need to be able convince different entities on what I am offering and to be given an opportunity to showcase my skills.”

HOW DOES HAVING A SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT HELP YOU?

“Social media has given me the opportunity to showcase what I am doing, getting projects and being in touch with the world. It also teaches me about what else is out there. It’s amazing to be able to connect with other artists. Sharing ideas and getting feedback helps me grow as well.”