Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Noura Al Ashwali

Noura Al Ashwali

A graphic designer, illustrator, explorer and entrepreneur.

Tell us about what you do.
I’m a graphic designer and an illustrator. I studied graphic design at Dar Al Hekma, but my illustration history dates back to early childhood.9

What is the inspiration behind your illustrations?
I don’t really know. I think it is self-discovery. Most of the time, I draw my feelings in an attempt to find my true self, uncover my real identity and explore what it means to be authentic. Sometimes I use my imagination as a source of inspiration too. Other times, there’s no inspiration really; it’s just the need to get the heaviness of feelings off of my chest.

What would be your favorite illustration and why?
Every time I think about this question, I get a different answer because I’m emotionally connected to all of my illustrations. But, I think my favorite illustration is “Wounded Dream.” I find it hard to explain in words, but I love it because of its contradictions. There’s some kind of bitter sweetness in it. It’s sad but also beautiful.8

What are Imagine Studio and Studio Al Marsam and how did they come about?
Imagine Studio is just a fancy name for the freelance work that I do as a graphic designer, whereas in Al Marsam, I create reproductions of my illustrations in different forms. The idea of Al Marsam began last year. It’s simple: I love drawing and I have an obsession with sketchbooks.

 So, I started off by making pocket size sketchbooks, but I didn’t like them and I ended up keeping them in my room. A few months later, I was inspired to grow Al Marsam as a brand and continue my pursuit of what I love. So far, I’ve recreated the sketchbooks and made wooden bookmarks, tote bags, handmade necklaces and canvas prints; they’re all inspired from my drawings, and I’ve distributed them around different retail stores here in Jeddah. 7

What do you aim to achieve with your artwork?
I want to leave a legacy, and I want to create an identity for myself; one that’s beyond name, gender nationality and culture.

What would your dream project be?
Turning one of my illustrations into a book and a short film.5

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given in relation to art and design?
I read once a quote somewhere by the notable graphic designer Milton Glaser. It said, “Tell the truth.” I think this piece of advice perfectly resonates with art and design. It’s not always easy to be truthful when it comes to art and design, as sometimes you risk falling in the trap of pretentiousness and selling the product or pleasing the client. But if you break the fear and try to be authentic in your work, it’ll stand out and you’ll have a unique style of work with a personality.

What do you think about the art scene in Jeddah and what do you think it lacks?

Honestly, sometimes I get angry over “trends” taking place in our local art scene and the lack of individuality they cause, but then I remember that art is dangerously subjective. Needless to say, we have some great artists and they’re definitely making a difference in the local art scene.3



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