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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

Meet Heba Ismail, the Saudi artist bringing Arab culture to the world of Web3 and NFT’s.

Updated: Feb 10, 2023

Heba Ismail is a Saudi artist who has been creating unique art pieces for a long time and recently took her gifts towards the world of Web3 and NFT's, releasing NFT collections on popular NFT marketplace Open Sea and selling physical art pieces via NFT smart contracts, making her one of the first Saudi and Arab artists to do so.

Heba grew up in an art inspired family and was raised with her art collector father who was inspired by the international painter Picasso. The exposure that Heba has had since childhood, gave birth to the unique but strong sense of art that can be seen on her canvases. Heba specializes in Fauvism and Cubism, she focused on this style because it allows her to utilize the manual skill of the hand which she trained well in her day to day profession as a dentist. Mastering precise and extremely accurate hand skills that focus on shaping by hand and highlighting beauty, whether through canvas paintings or the appearance of teeth, led to a unique touch on her art, in a detailed manner.

She does not want to limit her art to a certain culture or audience, so she extended the message of her art into a wider international audience by creating diversity in the characters and objects we see in her art. After achieving high demand for purchases of her art and being highlighted in several international magazines , she decided to leave a digital finger print that will keep her art unique forever.

Now, Heba is releasing her first NFT collection to reserve her rights, leveraging modern Blockchain technology. Art enthusiasts can now but her physical canvases, along with her digital form of NFT, highlighting authenticity of her unique pieces. Heba talks her beginnings in art, her experience selling her art pieces and her transition towards NFT technology.

-What was your first interaction with Art? 

As a child, my father always surrounded us with art and his passion for art history. I vividly remember the first time I was taken back by a painting as a kid, my father had installed a replica of Picasso’s Guernica in our living room. I would sit and stare at it's details for hours and hours wondering, what story lies behind it.

-Who were your artistic inspirations?

It started with Picasso’s Guernica, as I found the style of cubism to be such a refreshing perspective on how images can be portrayed by each person. This would later on develop into a deep love for Picasso’s whole body of work. Other inspirations include, Leonardo Da Vinci, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Amedeo Modigliani, and Claude Monet. 

-What is the story/inspiration behind the faces you draw in your paintings?

To me, art is an outlet with the canvas being a representation of my feelings and thoughts in that moment. Each painting I have, possesses a story through which I personify my thoughts and feelings in these characters. 

-When did your passion for making art transition from being a hobby to being a career where people started buying paintings from you and what was that experience like for you?

I’ve always been a painter, it's something that has been with me since childhood. Although, when it came time for me to pursue my studies, I embarked on that journey, setting my art to the side. After graduating from dental school, I felt the need to pursue art wholeheartedly and strive to leave my mark with each canvas I create. During quarantine in 2020, I received the first request to purchase one of my paintings. I felt elated that my art had moved someone to the point where they simply had to possess the piece, it's a joy I strive to achieve every time I put brush to canvas.

-What are your thoughts on the Art scene in Saudi, how has it evolved in the past years and where do you see it going?

With the introduction of Vision 2030 by HRH Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, there has been a significant uptake in interest in the arts, as a plethora of opportunities have been introduced to the youth of Saudi Arabia. I see Saudi on the fast track to being one of the leading faces for art in the region, becoming a hub for all artists striving to reach the height of their potential.

-When did you first get introduced to NFT’s and what did you initially think about this technology?

My first interaction with NFT’s was through social media. It peaked my curiosity, so I decided to familiarize myself with it and Web3 in general. I was fascinated by the idea that art could potentially become a digital asset rather than the traditional method of owning of a canvas, I immediately felt the urge to introduce my art to the world of Web3. 

At the start of 2022, I was approached by Chainvisory, a crypto consultancy firm established in Saudi Arabia, to collaborate with them and start my journey in Web3. Dr. Majid Al-Mansouri and Mohammed Ramadani taught me all there is to know about the process, everything from how Open Sea works to the in’s and out’s of the currency aspect. They have been an invaluable source of guidance for me throughout our time collaborating. 

-How has your experience been with NFT’s after releasing pieces on Open Sea and what role do you believe NFT’s will play in the future of art?

It is my firm belief that this will be the future of sharing art. Moving away from the traditional canvas will bring about a new and more permanent way to immortalize one’s art. 

I was very excited to dip my foot in the water with NFT’s, and during the process, I came up with a unique business model to provide both the digital and physical painting with one purchase, making this model the only one of it's kind to date. 

-What advice do you have for other artists looking to monetize their art?

As someone who is fairly new to the world of monetizing my art, in my humble opinion, the best advice I could give would be to always familiarize yourself with how Web3 works, and understanding how the NFT marketplace and the art marketplace are becoming synonymous, understanding one would help better understand the other.

-What’s your favorite piece of yours so far and why?

Each and every piece I produce is close to my heart owing to the fact that it has a story behind it, encapsulating my feelings and emotions into each canvas. Every painting rekindles all the feelings I was harboring at a certain time. That being said, the closest painting to my heart so far is “the ascending”. It tells a beautiful story about a strategic game of love, where learning to give yourself love and affection will help you “ascend” above any and all obstacles you may face during your life-time.


-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Over the next 10 years, I will strive to be an internationally renowned artist, being a leader in Saudi’s art scene, helping it develop and grow into what I believe will be the center for art and culture in the region. I also aim to inspire any individual who see’s themselves contributing to putting Saudi artists on the map and making sure Saudi artist are always regarded for their talent, vision, and drive. 

-From the beginning of your journey until now, what are the 3 most important things you've learned?

1) Through my dealings, I learned that art is an international language that connects all people

2) Always try to present your art from your own unique perspective 

3) Pursuing your dream will never fail you, the journey will always give end in satisfaction.

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