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Saudi Artist Asma’a Abdullah Uses Pencil to Create Striking Hyperrealistic Portraits

As Saudi’s emerging art scene continues to grow, so does its homegrown talent. Meet Asma’a Abdullah, a talented Saudi Arabian artist who specializes in realistic drawings.

At first glance, you would assume her work is a photograph, but on a closer look, each piece is hand drawn and tirelessly perfected until almost realistic. Realizing her talents from a young age, Asma’a continues to raise the bar with every piece she creates. Speaking to, she talked about her background, her style in art, and her hopes for the future.

Tell us a little about your background as a Saudi Arabian artist.
I’m self-taught and never went to art school and often found that YouTube and Google had the answers I was searching for when I wanted to learn more about art. I learned a lot by watching others create and it gave me perspective, until I developed my own way and style.

As a child and then as a teenager I didn’t draw a lot, I only had a few sketches and paintings. I was good at it but wasn’t always satisfied with it, because I’d seen better. I have high artistic standards and I have to meet them. Realistic portraits have always fascinated me; I tried many times but failed consistently and it became a goal I had to reach.

Your style is unbelievably real and photograph-like, when did you first discover your artistic talents?
Thank you! I discovered my drawing abilities at an early age, and noticed that I could copy things, not too well but would get close enough.

What are your personal inspirations when it comes to creating a work of art?
A lot inspires me including authenticity, beauty, calmness, and character. When it comes to portraits, the look in the eyes matters, and how deep that look is. It’s beautiful when the vibe that I want to be seen is actually resonated through my work. It reaches people, they can feel it.

Do you exhibit your art and what are people's general reactions to your work?
I don’t exhibit my work, my work can be found on social media for now. I did participate once in a show at a gallery and I was shocked by people’s reactions to my work. I know it’s important for people to see the drawings in person, but living the process on Instagram creates a connection and reach that I didn’t realize I had. When I was working on the portrait of Chloe Morello, it took me a year, and at the end of that year people were very happy to have seen this piece come to life, they noticed every detail.

If you could exhibit your work anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I’d say Paris, but honestly I would love to showcase my work at any great place anywhere in the world.

Being a female artist in Saudi Arabia, have you had to face any challenges in making your work known and how did you overcome them?
For me, it’s not about being a female; it’s just the fact that you’d be silly if you thought everyone is going to support you, and I was. I feel that I’m more supported globally than locally, especially by well-known American or Australian artists - which is awesome.

It’s an exciting time for arts and culture in Saudi and we're hearing more and more about emerging artists, are you inspired by any fellow Saudi artists?
I do follow Saudi artists on social media and I like their work, but mostly I’m inspired by foreign artists as they are who I aspire to become.

As a Saudi Arabian female artist, who/what empowers you?
Believing in myself and what I do empowers me, as well as some of the people who are very close to me.

With Saudi changing so rapidly socially, what do you hope to see for the future of the Saudi Art scene?
I hope to see more art galleries with high security and professional organizations all over the kingdom.

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