Artist Spotlight: Mariam Abbas

Portrait of a Bedouin- Exhibited at the Sikka Art Fair 2012.

(The illustration is made up entirely of hand drawn dots, a method known as pointillism.)

Artist Bio and Background

Mariam Abbas is a Dubaian, born and bred. With an affinity for drawing and crafts, she enrolled in the school of Architecture & Design at the American University of Sharjah, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication in 2006. Shortly after her graduation, she obtained a license to work from home, and that’s how she ventured into the world of freelance. Over the course of several years, she has designed various brand identities and among them are: Mexar (a gift wrapping and crafts studio located in Jumeirah), Mine (an interior design firm), and Lollicuts (a children’s boutique and spa also located in Jumeirah.)

When did you discover your passion for art?

I was raised by my mom, whom is a watercolor artist, and consequently, every little childhood doodle was greatly encouraged. The more I was given confidence, the more I drew and dabbled with my mom’s paints which eventually led me to where I stand today.

As an Emirati Female where are your hopes for the Art scene in the UAE?

A little over half a decade ago, there wasn’t much of an ‘art scene’ in the UAE; it all began with a few new names, which are now prominent, such as Art Dubai and Tashkeel. It’s absolutely fascinating how the art scene is rapidly booming, and it already seems like the Emirates is brewing modern-day Van Goghs and Andy Warhols. I remember graduating and thinking, now what? A few years on and now I’m struggling to keep up! I hope that one day, there will be as many galleries that house valuable Emirati art – around the globe – as there are museums and galleries that house western art.

I’ve seen a few of your personal work where it’s sketchbook material (illustrations, dot-drawing, sketches, pop art.. ) which medium best expresses your style?

I have to say experimental illustration using pen and ink best expresses my style; it’s a combination of various styles of illustrations such as loose, tight, intricate patterns, detail drawings, pointillism, you name it! I also love getting my hands dirty from paint, pastels, color pencils, markers, toners, glue, and so on, which explains the numerous tools and medias used in my sketchbooks.

How important is it to you to incorporate your culture with your art?

The more I travel, and tour art galleries around the world, the more I realize just how important it is to produce art that is related to the Emirates or the Middle east. Emirati art has just begun to rise; therefore, producing art that is related to our culture makes it distinctive, and this should be looked at as an opportunity.

You recently participated at the Sikka exhibition where footage of Sheikh Mohammed admiring your work was all over the papers and media etc.. What did that moment mean to you?

The video footage of His Highness viewing my illustrations blew my mind; my ego couldn’t handle it! I was greatly heartened by all the media exposure Sikka brought me; can’t wait to create more.

If you were a snack, you would be…

A box of Cheez-It – crunchy and tangy.

If you were an animal, you would be…

A Unicorn – a symbol of purity and grace.

If you were a tool, you would be…

A pencil – to leave my mark on the world.

If you were a fictional character, you would be…

Mary Poppins. Wouldn’t you want to be magical too?

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Sheikh Mohammed at the Sikka Exhibition
The Patriot
The illustration is made up entirely of hand drawn dots.
Sketchbook Illustrations

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