For ages, Islamic enchantments was an inspiring spark for creating designs, Yasmine Fahmy mastered the art of forming Islamic designs. Fahmy, 25, is an Egyptian self-employed artist and designer, specialising in Islamic designs. Her work includes lighting and home accessories. She started her solo career in 2012 after winning second place at the D+I Competition. She now owns her own workshop, a designer name, three collections, and she’s working on her fourth.
In an interview with Fahmy, she spoke of her passion, work, and the way she transforms Islamic Art into designs. Moreover, she spoke of her life dreams of turning her designs into high-end products.
Do you define yourself as an artist or a designer?
Both! But I would consider myself firstly an artist, then a designer. Art is about creating something artistic and unconventional. Designing is more about creating something to satisfy a market; I see many designs every day that are not artistic, but it is about creating something beautiful and creative regardless of the market or money. I create artistic designs; none of my designs are made to cater to a market; I design something so beautiful that a person can’t resist buying.
Why the focus on Islamic Art?
We call it the beautiful son of all arts. It’s this beautiful conclusion that has united all that is beautiful from all arts into one. It’s also a very challenging branch of art, which is one of the primary reasons I like it. I love a challenge. I find that it also reflects my culture, my history, my people, and who I am. In the past years, we’ve become so absorbed in copying what comes from abroad, we’ve lost the desire to add to our art. I believe there’s still room for us to add to Islamic Art. I like making art that reflects my people. When I was in Italy, a lady came to my booth asking where I was from. When I replied Egypt, she said she wasn’t surprised—she could see that in my art.
I believe the market is starving for Islamic Art; it’s one of these arts facing extinction. I believe that is a point of power and weakness for me; what I do no else does. I’m creating something rare and beautiful, but it is also difficult if you can’t get a second opinion about your work or a mentor to help you since there aren’t many people left who work in this field. I like a challenge, and I like to be different. There aren’t many my age who would pursue Islamic Art, and those who are left in the field are over 50. I like the individualism of this.
Tell me about your background. Where are you from? Where did you go to school/college, and what did you major in?
I was born in Beheira, Egypt. I found myself in an artistic family. Both my aunts, Azza Fahmy and Randa Fahmy, are well known creative artists. My father worked a lot with the latter. It’s a family that holds so much talent and respect for art. I went to EL Alsson School, and then studied IGCSE. Later, I studied at Faculty of Fine Arts, majoring in set design and scenography.
Why did you choose your major?
I chose art since I had the talent and was born in a very artistic family. This specific major was not related to what I wanted to do with my talent, nor was any other for that matter. I chose it because out of the two majors in Interior Decor, I found this one was to be far more interesting. I wasn’t into architecture. I wanted to study something I could enjoy, something that would feed my creativity and imagination. My major gave me room to learn how to express and translate feelings and emotions into art. That’s why they call it in Arabic “fenoon ta’abeeryah”: the art of elaboration.
What is the toughest part of your job?
The designing … to think of a design isn’t difficult, but to bring it to life, that is different. You’re trying to bring to life something that didn’t exist … to reach out with it to an audience and ignite their emotions. To create something original and unique that wasn’t born before. It’s like giving birth. Is labour easy? Giving birth to a new baby, that’s how I view the design and my work.
What do you think is the secret to your success?
First, my family. I was lucky to be born in such an artistic family that offered me so much artistic knowledge. Second, I was lucky to receive a good standard of education through my life. Third, my will power. I’m a firm believer that when there’s a will, there’s a way. When I left the family business, it was my will that supported me nothing else. I wanted to prove that I can design, with support or not, that I can, and that I will. If you have the will, you’ll succeed; you’ll do the research, you’ll spend hours trying to get everything right, you’ll cry your heart out from the stress, but in the end you’ll get it done.
Do you have any tips for a student who wants to work in your profession? What are your top tips?
Everyone supposes that they have to work under some big company or under some one’s supervision in the beginning of their career. I’m not saying don’t do it at all, but it’s not a must. Don’t do it if it’s about the money; you’ll waste so much time from your life making some money, while no one knows your work or name, start building your designer name early. There will be challenges, and you will do mistakes some, which you won’t learn if you worked for a million years under someone’s supervision, but mistakes are there for you to learn from.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you. You have to work under a big name for 20 or 30 years to become a designer yourself; that’s nonsense. Creative minds are not measured by age. Art is about talent; a 2-year-old can create something exceptional if they have the talent. Experience is something you shall gain either way by time, but talent is something that no one can give you, either you have it or not. There are challenges you will face in a solo career, you would rather face them as a young person in your twenties, than take up these challenges in your forties.