An emerging designer and overall creative personality, Alaa Balkhy is the mastermind behind funky brand Fyunka. An extremely talented Saudi illustrator who we've been lucky enough to feature on Khaleejesque on several occasions, Alaa always wanted to have her own label and she managed to achieve her dream after creating her first illustration titled “Daddy I want a Birkin”. Her illustrations can be found on t-shirts, bags, notebooks and more and have received an extremely positive reaction from people all over the Arab region. We caught up with the young talent to learn more about her experience as an illustrator and her developing creative endeavors.
What do you mostly enjoy about being an illustrator?
I enjoy how things can be seen from a more fun and less realistic kind of way, and the fact that I can create something that’s magical with a few pens and a paper.
What are your daily inspirations? Where do you get your ideas from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. A song I listen to, an exhibition I see, people I meet, but it’s mostly when I travel. I haven’t been to many places but just the change of your everyday scenery inspires you to create something different.
Tell us about your internship experience at Brownbook, what was it like?
The internship was amazing! The atmosphere was brilliant and the networking was perfect. I loved how everything was so art/design/culture based and the team was just lovely. However, coming from Jeddah to Dubai, the city was huge and it always seemed busy and events were happening on a daily basis. Unlike Jeddah where we have one event per week, in Dubai the scene is really busy.
What inspired you to create Fyunka? How has the reception been for your designs?
I always wanted to have my own label, not necessarily a clothing line, and I wanted to create a product that had my illustrations on them. But I never knew how to start, everything happened by luck! My first design was the "Daddy I want a Birkin" and people liked it! So I thought why not work on some more fashion related design with a Middle Eastern insight. And people got the humor in them and loved them. So I thought instead of making t-shirts because that would be the first thing people would think about, I decided on making tote bags that people can carry around.
What advice can you offer to emerging designers and illustrators?
Get your work out there for people to see! Start a blog or an online portfolio! Don’t be afraid to show everyone your work. People in Saudi are so afraid of plagiarism maybe because we don’t have strict rules so everyone hides their work, and it’s very sad not to see that much work from the Saudi scene.
What are your next plans? Where do you wish to see yourself in a few years time?
I want to start a print based clothing line, simple cuts and shapes but elaborate illustrated textile. I want to expand the stationary line, I have so much ideas. I would love to print my work on canvases for people to hang in their rooms or offices for a daily inspiration or a smile from people who see them.
Alaa Balkhy has generously offered this Fyunka tote for a giveaway. Answer the question here to get a chance to win!
Images courtesy of Alaa Balkhy