Kuwaiti contemporary artist and designer Rania Abulhasan graduated with honors from the Parsons School of Art and Design, The New School. The gifted artist first majored in Fashion Design before exploring the arts and earning a Bachelors degree in Fine Arts. After studying in New York, Abulhasan then moved to Paris where she enrolled in fine arts classes at Ecole des Beaux Arts.
During her early years, Abulhasan worked with artists and designers including Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, John Galliano, Isaac Mizrahi, and Gilles Rosier for Kenzo. She won several different awards for her work and was exclusively selected out of all her peers to work with fashion designer Donna Karen on a collection.
Juggling a family life which she feels strongly devoted to, with a thriving career, Abulhasan has always excelled in her field. Other than creating beautiful paintings, she has also designed a line of home products, as well as a successful line of t-shirts.
Rania Abulhasan is currently a young associate member at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the MoMA and Centre Pompidou. Her upcoming works include designing a book cover and some privately commissioned art pieces.
We chatted with the very talented artist and designer about her past, current, and future works...
Did you always have a passion for art and design?
Yes, as long as I can remember.
You believe strongly in the relationship between the two, how is this showcased in your work?
I strongly feel that in my work one can sense the presence of art and design. When designing, I use my art as inspiration and a tool to communicate my design concepts.
What was the most important skill you learned while studying at the prestigious Parsons School of Design?
Parsons helped make my dream become reality. There, I was groomed to be able to express myself through my work effortlessly. It was a very competitive environment, much so as the fashion and design industry. They prepared me to get out and feel confident in the real world.
While studying fashion, you worked under some of the most respected and renowned designers such as John Galliano, Michael Kors, and Isaac Mizrahi. Out of all of them, who influenced your style the most and how?
Each and every designer was a great mentor and inspiration to me. While in Parsons, we got the opportunity to work with these designers one-on-one which helped us once we got out into the industry. After that, working for great talents was such a beautiful experience. I am thankful to have had that opportunity. They are all great creators and it was a privilege to be part of that.
When it comes to artists, who would you say is your favorite?
It is hard to single out one. Every artist has something special. Alberto Giacometti is one of them. His work is full of life and beauty. His sculptures feel like they speak to you. They are filled with true emotions.
Having lived in Paris for a while, how did that evolve your design aesthetic?
Paris has always been a part of me. I spent a major part of my childhood and adulthood there. I cannot say how it evolved my design aesthetic but I can say that it could be a big part in my love and appreciation for art and design. The presence and accessibility of design and culture made me find what I aspired to do for a living.
Over the years you've been presented with several prestigious awards. Which one stands out for you the most?
When I was in my third year at Parsons, I was presented with a Silver Thimble. I still remember working on the piece for New York based couturier Zang Toi.
What were some of the obstacles you faced at the beginning of your career?
The competitive environment was emotionally very draining in the beginning. I got used to it eventually and learnt to tune it out.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Mostly from my day-to-day life.
What medium of art do you prefer to work on and why?
My latest work has been in mixed media. I like working with gouache and acrylics. My preferred medium is water based.
How long does it usually take you to complete a single piece of art?
It all depends on the piece. Every journey is different. I normally work in series that evolve into several pieces simultaneously. The beginning is usually slow but once I find my technique it starts going fast. Then I have to just pull the break and slow myself down.
What is your favorite piece of art you have created and why?
That is a very tough question. I really can't say. Each piece has a place in my heart.
Can you tell us what you're currently working on?
Currently, I am concentrating on my growing family. We have been blessed with a baby and I am busy with him. I continue to work but on a personal level until I am ready to showcase. I am also working on several private commissions.
How do you create a successful balance between work and your personal life?
Today, I am a wife and mother first. I feel that most of my current inspirations come from my family. My work comes from the heart and the closest to my heart is my family. I am thankful to have that.
What has been the feedback on your work from people in your country?
I am humbled by their support. Everyone has been amazing. So thankful for that.
How would you describe the art scene in Kuwait?
I feel that there is a true love and appreciation for art. My fellow Kuwaitis have a great eye and beautiful taste which inspires one to strive and grow.
What goals have you set for yourself for the future?
My goal is to try to always be true to myself and not forget who I am. I am very thankful for everything and hope that my work can grow and reach another level some day.
What message would you give to young Kuwaiti aspiring artists?
Go for it and never doubt yourself. If you love it then follow your heart.
For more information about Rania Abulhasan and her artworks visit www.raniaabulhasan.com
– Saira Malik