Meet One Of The Best Artists In The Maldives: Shimha
Today, 25th October, is World Artist Day and to celebrate this wonderful occasion, we have interviewed an incredibly talented Maldivian artists, Shimha, for some insight into the world of art and what it takes to become a full-time artist in the tropical country of The Maldives.
How did your journey into art begin?
A long time ago! I always enjoyed painting, ever since I was a child. At that young age, my passion developed and soon after, I was being recognised praised by others for my work. Now, painting is part of who I am and I have this need and desire to paint and create art every day.
Painting soon became a serious career for me when I quit my regular 9 to 5 job and started conducting art classes for kids as a means of income, it gave me more flexibility and time to start painting more seriously and consistently.
When the pandemic began, I had more than enough time to create art. Artists work in isolation and I took the whole situation in a very positive light…and it sure did make me feel good too when I get to paint with no distractions!
Did you always want to be a artist?
I’ve always wanted to create art, however, I didn’t know someone could actually become an artist in The Maldives back then. Especially as in our society we have this belief that working as an artist only wouldn’t be reasonable or sustainable.
In a way it’s true, and self discipline is key. Imagine, if you work just like you work for someone in an average 9 to 5 job and put in the effort for that long everyday into yourself and your art - then, I’m sure even the person who has zero talent can improve immensely. That was what I believed and it was advice that I gave myself when I quit my job.
So in this way I found a way to earn while I was doing something I really love and working with kids really taught me new things. In this period I was painting many things for my Etsy shop, it took me one year to get the shop up and running. The landscapes started in 2020 which was a turning point for my career as an artist.
How challenging is it to become an artist in The Maldives?
It’s challenging if you don’t create art and if you don’t put any effort to put yourself out there in the world. For me, I am that person who gets things done if I want it badly. Commission works, art classes and an Etsy shop all consist of the business part of this art career, that’s how I make money on a consistent basis.
As I previously mentioned, self discipline is key and income for an artist can be unstable - it’s not like the salary you get by the end of the month when you work for a company. If you don’t feel like painting then you don’t get paid!
Things have changed progressively in The Maldives. Now, there are many people who want to hire artists and use their work. However, for me I want to create my own art rather than work on commissions or projects. I do commissions if I have this real connection to the project, and if I don't feel that spark, then I will not take the work.
At the end of the day, to get to a place where you are accepted in the country and well known for your work, you really have to work on that. You have to do a lot of self promotion and learn from others who are already living their best life as an artist.
In fact, I have not limited myself to be an artist in The Maldives only, now that the world has become smaller and it's easier to get in contact with almost anyone - we have this great opportunity if you want to see it in that way. So I don’t consider myself as someone who is working in The Maldives only, I can work for anyone anywhere in the world.
Where & when do you feel most inspired to make art?
I have my own space to make art, my art studio is the place I love to work. It's quiet and it's my own space. If there are days that I don’t feel like working in the studio, I paint in my room.
There are also days that I wish to paint outdoors but I never have tried yet. Now that I do want to paint outside, I want to know how it will affect my work or my mood. I want to see how I can dodge the distractions and be in that flow state when I paint. It’s about being confident I guess, and now I am. If I paint outdoors I’m sure I will enjoy the local islands as they resonate with my paintings so much.
As I am a full time artist, I have the discipline to create art everyday. I have stopped believing artists need to create at night or they have to paint when they are in the mood. I can’t follow those beliefs anymore as I have deadlines and I’m serious with my own personal goals too.
I have big and small goals, so it’s easier for me to be more organized and get things done. There are days that I get burnt out or simply don’t want to paint, on those days I listen to my body and my mind and just relax. It was through hard experience that I realised that it’s okay to not make art all the time and even make bad art. When you enjoy the journey and take care of yourself, everything becomes easy!
If you had to choose your favourite piece of art that you’ve created,
what would it be?
I only have a few favourites - but I have favourite aspects about each painting I’ve made. It's a love hate relationship with my paintings, sometimes I need to come back to a painting after several days in order for me to appreciate my own work.
I love this piece of work (below) and I don’t want to part with it. This is also one of the paintings that I thought I would not make it, but now it is among my favourites.
What's your advice to anyone who dreams of becoming an artist?
Create everyday! Be consistent, explore all the materials and try painting in different styles, believe me, you cannot copy someone else, but you will eventually find your own style.
To embrace your style is the difficult part, and you must love what you create. The secret to everything is to love what you do and to be more confident and not to get affected by the comments or the number of instagram likes or shares. If you love what you do it will be seen and people will pick up on that energy. Sometimes it's not even about how talented you are but it's about how much you love the work and the effort you have put into it.
What is your favourite thing to paint?
Landscapes (for now) I have painted portraits and flowers before and back then I thought I would be painting those only. I’m still not done with the landscapes yet, I have so much to learn and I am not even close to the goals I have set myself.
So landscapes it is, especially local Maldivian scenes or anything that has the island feel to it. I’m not saying I wouldn’t try other landscapes, I will definitely try other things but I have decided that I will be using watercolor only as my medium.
Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
Definitely a well known artist with a unique style. Travelling and conducting workshops and art retreats in different countries!
What is your favourite quote?
"Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can't - you are right" - by Henry Ford.
It's what we believe that makes who we are, our mindset is everything. Think you are already a great artist and you are halfway there.
Where can people see your art and stay updated with your latest news?
The best place to view all my art is instagram and view my insta stories to see the behind the scenes of my work and life.
Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/AquarelDesign
Visit my shop to get watercolor artwork that you can download and use in almost anything. With the commercial licenses from my shop people are already selling their own products with my art on it!
We hope you enjoyed this blog post, alongside discovering Shimha and being inspired by her impressive journey into art.
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