‘Beautiful chaos:’ COVID-19 triggers artist’s business venture

artwork by farah rakan
A work by local artist Farah Rakan is pictured in this undated photo. Rakan returned to painting after the pandemic hit, and began selling her work through social media. (Photo: Handout from Farah Rakan)
AMMAN — A local artist turned the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic into a unique opportunity. Twenty-three year old Iraqi artist Farah Rakan tapped into her creative spirit to start a small business selling her own paintings during the pandemic. اضافة اعلان

Rakan told Jordan News that she discovered her deep passion for art when she was just eight years old, adding that she spent most of her time doodling and coloring. This continued into school, when she used to skip classes to go paint instead.

When Rakan turned 15 years old, she first decided to open her social media page, called “farah.pdf.” "It was my hobby and a way to release my stress and express myself through my art," she said.

She participated in her school's open day to share her artwork and sold her first painting there. "I kept my love for art on the side all my school years, then my mom decided to put me in a summer art school just for a year," Rakan recalled. After that, she started watching YouTube videos and discovering more and more about her artistic talents.

But then, she went to the Applied Science University in Amman as an interior graduate student. For the first two years, she took basic art classes, but for the rest of her time there she “didn’t paint or sketch a single line.”

"I was so caught up in the project and stayed up all night," she added.

Rakan had worked in a bakery, in sales, and as an art teacher for children. But just months after her graduation, the coronavirus pandemic began. With no jobs available, she decided to paint again. After three months of lockdown, she started a small business making custom paintings that reflect her customer’s personality using her unique artistic style.

The young artist gets her new ideas from nature, her daily life, and online sources of inspiration, she said.

The goal behind her Instagram page is to reach more people and share her artwork with people who enjoy art. She hopes to build a community through her social media. Because of the pandemic, she has been unable to display her work in bazaars, but in the future she plans to display her paintings in local shops and exhibitions. She is also hoping to one day open a studio to teach children art.

“And because we are talking about goals and dreams, I'd like to open my art gallery in France!" Rakan added.

Each painting requires a different process. Sometimes Rakan starts a new painting without thinking of the outcome, but sometimes she brainstorms and plans a whole mood board for the ideas and colors she is going to use. The artist mainly uses acrylic paint, prioritizing affordable options.

A 10 by 10cm portrait can take up to three days, depending on the details and the reference she uses. The prices depend on the cost of the materials and on the number of working days required.

Rakan described herself as deeply satisfied with her customers' reactions and reviews — once a happy client even described her work as “beautiful chaos.”

Still, like any other business, Rakan faces some financial difficulties, struggling to achieve as many commissions as she would like.

She said that she draws inspiration from other pieces of art, such as Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” adding that artists play a crucial role in society.

"We can reshape our world into a better place and talk about our community issues in a way that gets people’s attention," she said.

Rakan encouraged others to “stay committed and focused.” She described art as “a process that needs time to work. Stay real about it and don't fake who you are. You'll eventually create your platform out of people's real love for what you do.”

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