Understanding the arts with Shenina Amira Suhayb


By Patrick de Kretser


There are quite a few of us out there with relatively artistic dreams. Whether you want to become a painter, stylist, beautician, sculptor, or otherwise, the realm of the arts will certainly mean a lot to you and mean a lot for the important decisions you make in the future. This is much the same case for Amira, a recent university graduate who specialises in the arts field and currently runs her own independent art page on Instagram. Much like everyone else, Amira comes into the picture bearing her own unique story as to how she came to discover her affinity for the arts and all that it entails. After seeing some of the creative pieces she has managed to produce for her arts page, I decided to ask her a few questions about her story and the newfound business venture she has by working on commissions for artwork. Hopefully, hearing a little bit about her story will end up serving as insightful and encouraging for those that also wish to pursue the same path in the future.

When did you first discover your talents in the arts? 

I’ve always liked creating. I don’t really think I was very good at it when I was younger but I started to practise and copy pieces. I liked to develop my skills. My talents grew when I got into high school and I was able to learn new styles and techniques. 

What was the challenge like following your passion for art back in school and university, and then later taking the big step to break into the art world?

In school and in university, creating and learning about art was something that was always there, if that makes sense. I knew what the next step was because it was all planned out for me. After my final year and my independent work, my next step was up to me. Coming out of university and into a field that isn’t as prominent in Sri Lanka was very challenging, especially with the new changes with the pandemic. The main challenge was realising I will have to find my way around sharing my work as well as developing my skills by myself. I would say the art scene here is full of really talented, independent artists who have come into their own styles and businesses. I’ve always admired that, which helped me overcome the challenge of starting my own work and putting myself into the art scene in Sri Lanka. 

Do you have any role models that you look up to?

In terms of art, the one role model I had was my art teacher who taught me after school when I was younger. I was only with her for a year, but I was able to come back to her as a teenager and work alongside her. Her name is Noeline and she has a small art school. I always liked her way of teaching. Art is really all about no restraints, and sometimes, I feel like that gets lost in the art world now. She always taught her pupils to do whatever they wanted; to not care and be proud. She is also someone who helped me get into teaching, as she let me assist her with that.

You run an art page. Do tell us a little bit about the art that you post, and why you do it.

My page is quite new and it started off as just me wanting to document some of my university work and other random work I was doing along the way. The art that is now on there is what I’ve always liked working on – my work and detailed pieces that mostly focus on nature. I’ve recently started making stickers with my own designs on them. It’s mainly work I like to do, but I also take on commissions. I collaborated with a really sweet girl who makes bags and who wanted me to design a print for her based on the TV show “Friends”. 

Any advice for up-and-coming artists who want to break into the scene themselves? Is there anything they need to remember or watch out for?

It’s fun to create outside of university where there was a strict creative form as well as graded critiques. I tended to change my work to fit that mould, but now I can do whatever I want and have fun. I feel like I’m still really new to the art scene here. Honestly, I feel like I need some good advice too, but the one thing I can say – as generic as it may sound – is don’t compare your work to anyone else’s. Everyone has a different process and ability. Art takes practice and time, but the process does not have a right or wrong way to do it, which I think is pretty cool. For anyone that wants to start showing their work, I say just do it. At the end of the day, no one dislikes looking at art; it’s always interesting and it’s always unique.

Amiras official instagram page is @amiranina_art

PHOTOS Shenina Amira Suhayb, WallpaperFlare