Six Female Yemeni Illustrators You Must Follow!

While the international media has been paying close attention to female Yemeni political and humanitarian activists, little attention has been paid to creative activists. A growing number of Yemeni women artists, painters, fashion and graphic designers have taken their talent straight to the public – otherwise known as through Instagram. If you’re an avid reader of our magazine, you know we have a special connection with our Yemeni Instagram community, and we always keep an eye on new talent via the social media app.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM

PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM

The significance of these illustrators lies in the fact that whether they live inside Yemen or far away in the diaspora, their connection to their land is visible in each and every piece of work. While their work could be looked at as traditionally ‘feminine’, it is also extremely resilient – and it is relevant because of its strong point of view and commentary on the conflict and the ongoing war in Yemen. Their voices are fresh, feminist and inspiring.

Al Madaniya magazine is pleased to present six young illustrators who express the meaning of being a woman in a time of war, illustrating what it’s like to be a Yemeni woman today: a fighter for knowledge and hope.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @ECLECTIC_YEMENI

PHOTO COURTESY OF @ECLECTIC_YEMENI

Hajer || instagram: @Eclectic_Yemeni

1. How did you get into illustration?
Ever since it became my only way of expression.

 2. Your illustrator personality in one phrase is?
Eclectic resistant feminist.

3. Favorite Yemeni musician? Why?
Methal. Because she’s a methal (example) to all those young Yemeni women who want to pursue their music career. You are capable of doing anything you want, don’t stop.

4. What defines you as an illustrator?
There isn’t anything specific that I can use to define me as an illustrator, I’m constantly changing... and so is my art. But the one thing that will remain through all changes is my feminism and that I will illustrate only women characters.

 5. What’s your advice for young creatives who are trying to get into illustration / creative media?
Represent who you are well. Do everything wholeheartedly, and have trust in what you do and in the process. Never be afraid of expressing who you are, or feel that you are not good enough, because there’s no such thing as good enough. There’s you and your ideas, and that’s unique and more than enough.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @S.JAMJAM

PHOTO COURTESY OF @S.JAMJAM

Sarah || instagram: @s.jamjam

1. What defines you as an illustrator?
A 23 year old who still enjoys watching cartoon network; silly, funny, hard-working; loves colors and am attached to anything related to art and so I buy a lot of color pencils that never get used.

2. Street smart or book smart?
Book smart!

3. Did you study illustration? If not, why not? What is your academic background?
I did take some illustration, animation and painting classes. However, I am not majoring in art, I am an information technology major.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @S.JAMJAM

PHOTO COURTESY OF @S.JAMJAM

4. What’s your dream project? 
To create my own Yemeni cartoon show on YouTube.

5. What’s your advice for young creatives who are trying to get into illustration / creative media?
It is okay to have inspiration, but do not let your inspiration block your imagination. Be free with your own art style.

Maha || instagram: @artist_maha_alomari

1. Did you study illustration? If not, why not? What is your academic background?
I did not get the chance to study illustration. I wish I had as it could have saved me a lot of time learning the hard way. I did spend a few years practicing art at the Art House in Taiz – that taught me a lot. My academic background is in computer sciences.

2. Are you a full-time illustrator? What do you do besides being an illustrator?
It would be nice to be a full-time illustrator, but I haven't found the job that will give me such pleasure. Besides illustrations, I do oil painting and digital art. I worked in media, and in my own time I make short films.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @ARTIST_MAHA_ALOMARI

PHOTO COURTESY OF @ARTIST_MAHA_ALOMARI

 3. Favorite Yemeni musician? And why?
I like Ahmed Alshaiba’s music. He mixes ِِAraby and Eastern musical instruments in a unique way, making it sound easy!! A very talented guy, and I love listening to him.

 4. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Most of the time the reference or the idea speaks to me. As it keeps coming back to my head, I see the lines being drawn. Inspiration comes from everything. All I have to do is to open my mind to it and have the time to bring it to life.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @INTIBINT

PHOTO COURTESY OF @INTIBINT

 5. Your illustrator personality in one phrase is?
Always evolving... always new.

Noha || instagram: @intibint

 1. How did you get into illustration?
I always liked to draw. Sounds lame, but it’s usually what I would turn to when I was feeling really low and just wanted to shut myself away from the world for a bit. Sometimes I would just draw patterns and sometimes I would do illustrations of whatever I could come up with to interpret my feelings.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @INTIBINT

PHOTO COURTESY OF @INTIBINT

2. Are you a full-time illustrator? What do you do besides being an illustrator?
Unfortunately no, I’m a part-time illustrator, part-time Masters student and work part-time for a media co-operation, assisting in social media work.

3. Favorite Yemeni artist? And why?
Haifa Subay, because what she’s doing is super brave and it’s inspirational.

4. Favorite Yemeni musician? Why?
Fouad Al-Kebsi, because he’s my friend’s uncle, and once gave me a free ride home from school. I’ll never forget a free ride.

5. Your illustrator personality in one phrase is?
It was hard to answer this question without sounding too staged. These are basically the drawings of a Yemeni girl living in the UK, and everything that comes with being that.

Rema || instagram: @ba3asees.yemenia

 1. How did you get into illustration?
My first love was fashion illustration. I don’t really remember how I got into it, I just remember it’s all I ever did since I was a fifth grader!

2. What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on the first Apparel collection for my brand Ba3asees Yemenia.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @BA3ASSES.YEMENIA

PHOTO COURTESY OF @BA3ASSES.YEMENIA

3. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everything around me is an inspiration. I obviously get inspired by Yemeni architecture and traditional items, but what really stimulates my brain and makes my heart skip a beat are certain attitudes or certain moods, and that’s what I try to reflect through my products.

4. Favorite Yemeni Instagram account?
Definitely Banat Al-Youm.

5. What’s your advice for young creatives who are trying to get into illustration / creative media?Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things. And most importantly, practice. Practice and then practice some more!

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM

PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM

Lama || instagram: @imazlam

1. What defines you as an illustrator?
My Yemeni origins.

2. Where do you get your inspiration from?The current media coverage of Yemen urges me to try to share a more positive and enlightening image of Yemen, instead of the constant war images.

3. What are your favorite Yemeni Instagram accounts?
@thebashayer @electic_yemeni @yumnaaa @intibint

4. What’s your dream project?
To open my own architecture firm in Yemen and rebuild the destroyed buildings.

 5.  What’s your advice for young creatives who are trying to get into illustration / creative media? To use their talent and art to send a message to the world, a positive message that can change a perspective or inspire a new idea. Always have a meaning to what you create, and of course go beyond the normal and have your own touch.

 PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM

PHOTO COURTESY OF @IMAZLAM