Abdel Rahman Shawky – an uprising self-taught artist
CAIRO –11 August 2017: Abdel Rahman Shawky is a passionate artist who taught himself drawing at a very young age. He grew up to have his own live caricature events, galleries and printed merchandise line. We met him over burgers and had a lovely chat on art, passion and talent vs. education.
How did it all start?
“I loved doodling since I was very young. I used to draw cartoonish versions of my family, but around seventh grade, something happened and changed everything for me. I was watching the movie ‘Braveheart’, and my mind was blown by Mel Gibson’s performance; I felt like I had to express this somehow, so I started drawing several sketches of William Wallace in his youth and adulthood. I then proceeded to draw whatever moved me, such as Armin Van Buuren, who I draw a lot because I love his music, and my favorite superheroes, such as Wonder Woman, Batman, the Joker and Harley Quinn.”
Mel Gibson as William Wallace by young Abdel Rahman Shawky
Did you ever study painting?
“Not really. I just kept practicing it until I became good. I tried to join art school, but was rejected because the test was very academic. I drew what I knew, but I had a hard time with some technicalities. I once tried to take a painting course, but after a few classes, the instructor told me it will not help me because I rely solely on my talent and do not need a course, which is why I’m very grateful to God for my talent. I did take a course in digital painting, though only to learn how to use the tools.”
A Digital painting by Abdel Rahman Shawky from his Facebook page
Were you ever inspired by any artist?
“Van Gough is the best. Ever. Even though his story is quite sad, I always try to use art to feel better, like he did. Also, the Egyptian art scene is full of talented people, and I hope they receive the support they need and deserve.”
When did you start doing this professionally?
“In 2009, I had my first gallery in El Sawy Culture Wheel, and it went well. A year later, I was contacted by someone from Virgin Megastores after they saw my work, and they asked me to do live caricature shows for their customers, and it went great. Shortly after, prints of my merchandise became available on their stands and the stands of other stores, such as Diwan. I have been doing events ever since and just had my second gallery in the Cairo Opera House a few months ago.”
Where do you see the future of your work and brand?
“My dream is to have my own permanent gallery somewhere, where I can run my business and watch my brand grow, but with the current economic challenges and the rise of the prices of printing materials and everything else, it is getting a bit hard, but I am very hopeful.”
Abdel Rahman Shawky’s Merchandise
Abdel Rahman Shawky then drew a sketch of us for Egypt Today, which only took him five minutes.
Amr, Abdel Rahman, and me with our sketch
You can follow Abdel Rahman Shawky on social media and attend his events.
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