Rania Zakaria

An artist following her heart

The art industry has been expanding exponentially in Egypt recently, with people of different backgrounds venturing into this exciting field to showcase their talents to the world. One such artist is Rania Zakareya, who wowed everyone with her cover recreations of Samih Sawiris and Dorra at eniGma’s Covers Reimagined event last June. eniGma’s Nouran Deyab spoke to Zakareya to find out how she switched career paths and got into art.

Following in her father’s footsteps, Zakareya graduated with a degree in communications engineering in 2005 from the University of Alexandria. Soon after graduating, she began working in her field but finding that she really did not enjoy it, she eventually decided to do something totally different. For the past five years, she has been focusing on her art, which had been her passion since she was a child.

How long did you work in your field of study?
After graduating I worked in IT, my field of specialization I also worked as a programmer and even taught it for a period. But after a long time at it, I felt I was really bored of it. I always felt like I needed something else. Even though I would take up drawing from time to time, I wasn’t taking it seriously. I reached a point where I felt my life and my job was just a routine. Feeling my frustration, my brother told me, “What do you think about going back to art?” That encouraged me to begin taking my passion for art a little more seriously. I began finding myself in art and in drawing, especially. I felt it was my destiny and that it was calling out to me.

Tell us about your studio…
Some artists like to showcase their art in their studios but I prefer having my studio just be for my personal time and the place where I get down to work. It’s a special place for me, especially since my studio is in my home. I took over a huge portion of my home and dedicated it to my art. I also started a company that sells art supplies and I’m planning on moving my studio there. We sell the German paint brand Schmincke. I started it because I want to provide quality supplies for myself and others. I want my art to last.
Which materials do you like to use most in your art?
I use acrylic, aquarelle, oils and pastels. But acrylic and aquarelle are my favourites.

Tell us about your exhibitions…
I have only done group exhibitions till now. My first exhibition was in 1998 or 1999 when I was in school. It was a group exhibition and it had to do with the Mouled. The most recent event I took part in was with eniGma for the eniGma Covers Reimagined event. I’ve only been back to art for five years, so I haven’t done many exhibitions; all my focus is on learning new techniques, developing myself and creating a certain style for myself. This year I may have a solo exhibition but I don’t want to take part in an exhibition just for the sake of being involved. I want to make sure my art is making an impact.

A lot of your paintings are of landscapes rather than portraits. Is there a certain reason behind that?
I really love nature and landscapes but I do draw portraits as well. I was even interviewed on television when I drew a picture with pastels of President El Sisi on the occasion of the June 22nd celebrations. But, nowadays I’m more drawn to landscapes and want to focus on them.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I find my inspiration mostly in nature but even a character can inspire me. Old temples, the Nile River, plants, even doors of old buildings inspire me. I feel that behind each door is a story and that the door itself reflects something about its owners. I recall a visit to Sweden in particular, where I was so inspired by the way the houses looked there!

Which artists do you enjoy and how have they influenced you?
There are many artists that I like. Even if their style of art is different from mine, they still inspire me. For example, Picasso is very charismatic and his personality, his life and his art are very inspiring to me. He lived a long life and during that time he developed different approaches to his art. Leonardo Da Vinci is also very appealing to me. As for more contemporary artists who influenced me, I would say Murad Darwish. His art and his teachings had an impact on me.

What is the process you go through to create an art piece?
I start with an idea and then I try to find inspiration for it. I sketch or write the idea down; that way I have it recorded somewhere and then I sit with myself and work on it. Sometimes the inspiration comes by itself, suddenly. When I look at nature, I can see a scene differently than how others see it; sometimes I even see it in colours that aren’t there. But I like to paint these scenes the way I imagine them; that’s why I sketch and study the colours. After working on a piece, I tend to leave it for a while and then go back to it. I give myself a break from it and come back to it refreshed. I just go with the flow; I could be working on a piece and all of a sudden, I get new ideas and I incorporate them.

Each part of the process is interesting but my favourite part is getting feedback from others. My goal is to send a specific message through my art and when I receive feedback proving that I successfully sent that message, I get excited because it means I reached my goal and that’s satisfying.

How do you overcome creative blocks?
I tell myself that when I’m stuck it means something new is about to happen. I try to detach myself from art for a while and I find myself going back when I’m ready.

What are you looking forward to in the future?
There is a lot I look forward to. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to say what I want to do because I like proving my goals. Actions speak louder than words! But, looking ahead, I would say I want to become more mainstream. I also want to live through different art styles that are new and innovative. And I want to enjoy my time through it all.