In following her passion, using digital technology to create unique portraits, this talented designer also painted herself an exciting new future.
SHARJAH // A few tweets two years ago led Leen Al Qudsi to realise that her pastime of creating digital artwork using Photoshop could be something more than just a hobby.
The 22-year-old Palestinian, who lives in Sharjah, had tweeted images of her friend, Egyptian singer Abdel Halim Hafez, and Algerian singer Warda Al Jazairia and within a few days there were more than 100 retweets.
Seeing the interest, she decided to put images of her digital portraits on Instagram and Twitter, offering them for sale. They were a hit and her unique portraits fetched anything from Dh60 to Dh500.
She has since created digital pop art portraits of many Arab TV personalities, comedians and actors, and sold about 780 of her works to people from across the globe.
“Digital art in the Arab world is very rare because, unfortunately, people think that Photoshop is like the work of plastic surgeons and advertisement posters, they don’t think it is an art,” says Al Qudsi, whose father is an abstract painter and mother and uncles majored in art.
“When I was seven, I admired digital art and drawing,” she says. “Even though at that time there was no Photoshop, but my mother told me that I used to spend a long time on PowerPoint creating cards for occasions.
“When I was in school, I participated in many design competitions. At university, I decided to study visual communication, which was closer to my passion but, unfortunately, the competition was too high and I failed the second year. At that time, I was forced to study advertising.
“My dream was not destroyed because I believe in myself and my talent because, when you teach yourself the basics, you can develop yourself.”
So while studying advertising at American University of Sharjah, Al Qudsi trained in Photoshop everyday.
“Photoshop takes the same time that a manual painting takes because I use the computer and my hand to draw the layers and I need to be accurate.
“In the beginning, I used to spend about a week on one portrait. Then, because I got accustomed to it, I got quicker.”
Hamza Al Ghazou, a Jordanian social account coordinator at Fooq Alsada Company, which creates television and YouTube programmes, discovered Al Qudsi and ordered several portraits.
“My company’s team knew of Leen through my wife, who saw her on Instagram, and she asked her to make portraits for me and the team as a surprise,” the 30-year-old says.
“We liked the creativity in her work and the new art. My wife asked her for portraits because they are attractive and she is talented and I want to support her creativity.”
Ammar Abusitta, a Jordanian sales manager, asked the artist to make him a portrait after realising she was doing something unique.
“I saw her work, and I found it excellent,” the 28-year-old says.
“She made for me more than just one portrait and I like them a lot.
“This art is rare in the Arab world. Leen is good at it and she has good ideas, whatever she imagines, she does.
“She doesn’t only create a portrait with images and colours but also [makes it] about the character, with a statement that person always says.
“It makes people when they look at it know that it is a portrait with personality.”