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Artist finds support close to home

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Abdulrahman Merhi, a 31-year-old Jordanian calligrapher. (Photo: Abdulrahman Merhi)
AMMAN — “If you want to learn how to swim, you need a swimming pool,” said Abdulrahman Merhi, a 31-year-old calligrapher and owner of Midad for Arts.

Merhi told Jordan News that he indulged in calligraphy as a hobby at first, while he worked as an occupational therapist with children. After a couple of years, he established his own business — Midad for Arts.

“We used to do art therapy for the children, and since calligraphy is a part of our culture I included it in this field, people interacted very well with the idea,” Merhi said.

To improve his skills, Merhi pursued a master’s degree in calligraphy. During this stage of his life, his friends showed interest in his art, so he started painting pieces for his friends as gifts. However, demand grew, he said, so much so that he could not keep up. 

“Making a gift is better than just buying one. My friends started to ask me to make them more so I decided to start selling at cost. Selling at cost got me to dream bigger so I decided to leave my job and establish my own company” Merhi said.

Merhi did not lack support for his venture.

“In these situations, you always need support, it’s really hard for an individual to stand on his own, so I found all my support from my circle, especially my father. He was very supportive when I told him that I wanted to leave my job and I wanted to establish my own company. His only question was ‘where are you going to establish it?’”

Merhi’s father allowed him to establish his company in their home’s basement. “When this kind of supportive environment is available to an artist the outcome becomes much better when there is no stress,” Merhi said.

Merhi believes that governments should give more support to artists where he said: “The artist is the one who represents the country’s culture, therefore, I think that Jordan should be more supportive towards Jordanian artists especially since all artists need space to unleash their creativity.”

In the business’ early stages, Merhi faced challenges but managed to overcome them. “Once I have started, I didn’t see a clear path for where I was heading because I was lacking the experience so I used to go to more experienced artists to benefit from their insights,” Merhi said.

Finding the raw materials needed for Merhi’s art was another challenge: “The material that I use for my art wasn’t available all the time and that created some difficulties for me.”

However, Merhi said that he was not planning on quitting so he started making his own eco-friendly materials and inks. “At Midad, we only use natural ink and natural material to make our pieces, and this is one of the things that makes us special, unfortunately, this material isn’t available in Jordan and that pushed me to produce my ink and even start selling it.”

His business had begun to take most of his time, and while the solitude of COVID-19 negatively impacted many, Merhi said the pandemic gave him time to refocus. “At some point, I became distant from my art, because I was more focused on managing the customer’s orders so I was lacking time to truly connect with my art, and that’s exactly what COVID-19 gave me. It gave me the time.”

“Because of the pandemic, our sales shrunk and that taught me to better manage Midad’s income when sales are low.”

Merhi advises artists to keep trying until they find out exactly what they want to do.

“There is no (better) joy than discovering what you want as a youngster going through life, and I ask parents to stop pressuring their children because children need space to unleash their creativity, and if you want to learn how to swim, you need a swimming pool.”
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