There isn’t much that artist Huda Hashim cannot do. She is a painter, a calligrapher, and an interior designer. She creates and renders 3D environments and has worked on several animation shorts. Oh—and she started her own company, Hudarts, at the age of 20.
Huda Hashim received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 3D animation and minored in visual arts at the University of Texas at Dallas. Merging the distinctive worlds of arts and technology, she hopes to innovate and challenge traditional ways of making art. Huda’s artwork consists of 3D visualizations, modern African and Islamic art.
Huda’s success in pursuing a non-traditional field is an inspiration to young Muslim women who have asked themselves, over and over again, if it’s worth it. Many girls aspire to be pioneers of the liberal arts—painters, writers, film producers—from a young age, but are often held back. Whether by the voices inside their own “rational” minds or the voices of their parents, young Muslim women are too often discouraged from becoming who they are meant to be.
Huda’s success in pursuing a non-traditional field is an inspiration to young Muslim women who have asked themselves, over and over again, if it’s worth it. tweet
But artists like Huda have found a way to cheat the system—to be true to themselves, despite what anyone says. I came to know Huda years ago when my family moved to Texas. I remember feeling the excitement when I found out she was studying art; she was a couple of years ahead of me and I was instantly relieved that I wasn’t the only Sudanese girl in our community thinking of majoring in something other than biology.
In just a few short years, Huda has managed to launch a successful career as both an artist and an entrepreneur. Her unique style, inspired by Sudanese culture, lends her artwork a certain signature that her clients appreciate. I wanted to pick her brain to get an understanding of why she decided to start her own company, and what impact she hopes to have in her community as a Muslim artist.
Muslim Girl: What kind of artist would you describe yourself as being?
Huda Hashim: As a British-born Sudanese artist living in the U.S., I describe myself as an African brush-teller—like a storyteller, but with a brush. Although I want to be able to inspire millions, the best contribution I can offer to the world is to be myself wholeheartedly with every brushstroke.
When I lay paint on my canvas, I choose to dwell in a place no one can see or imagine. If I could tell stories with words there would be no reason for me to paint. I have never been much of a writer; however, the power of color and expressive brushstrokes depict every visual and emotional memory I want to tell. As Rumi said, “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you.”
Visiting Sudan as a child, I remember this rush of happiness and tears flowing down my eyes as the plane was landing. I never knew what love felt like until I looked out the window and saw where the waters of the river Nile met—I felt that same love when I embraced Sudan’s soil with my bare hands and when I was spinning in circles meeting my extended family. I want to make room for personal exploration.
When I lay paint on my canvas, I choose to dwell in a place no one can see or imagine. If I could tell stories with words there would be no reason for me to paint. I have never been much of a writer; however, the power of color and expressive brushstrokes depict every visual and emotional memory I want to tell. tweet
Everyone interprets colors and shapes differently. My goal is to tell the stories of the people of Sudan, create awareness and trigger that happy childhood memory or an emotion deep inside and let it shine into the world.
“My life will be a message.” -Gandhi. tweet
What was your inspiration for starting your own company?
A professor once told me, “Why look for a job when you can create one? Turn what you love into a career and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I think it’s something to do with that “artist mindset.”
I never saw myself as being trapped in a cubicle. I started Hudarts at the age of 20 with the goal to make art for as many homes as I could around the world and share the beauty of Islam one painting at a time. I have sold over 100 paintings internationally. I launched my second company, Manzili 3D, a couple of months ago. Manzili 3D creates unique 3D architectural and interior design renders for clients and real estate agents. I also create Sudanese-inspired furniture pieces and continue to sell my artwork on my new Manzili 3D website.
“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong” -Joseph Chilton Pearce. tweet
In what ways have your Sudanese culture and your faith influenced
As an artist, my work is my form of identity. Living in the west has made me more eager to hold onto my culture and religion—embrace it, share it and paint it. I feel, as an artist, its an honor to be able to spread the beauty of Islam through Islamic calligraphy and educate others about Sudanese culture through my abstract art and 3D visualizations.
Have you faced any difficulties trying to break into the
independent business world as a Muslim woman?
Not at all! I think it’s all about the people you meet, connections you build and, most importantly, being confident in yourself and your ideas.
What message do you want your clients to take away from your artwork?
I want them to embrace the power of storytelling with every color and brushstroke I use. I want to emphasize that African art can be modern and urban while drawing on our traditions. I aim to innovate and use my Sudanese heritage towards 3D interior design and my traditional work because art has the power to illuminate, educate and inspire.
Do you have a certain audience in mind whenever you’re creating a new piece?
My audience is anyone and everyone that appreciates art. I want viewers to connect with my artwork and understand the story I’m telling with every piece. I get so excited when I see people of different faiths and backgrounds stand in front of my piece for a while. I get the urge to ask them, “What are you thinking?!” But I take a step back and let them remember that special moment the painting brought out for them.
What advice do you have for young Muslim women who want to pursue a
career in the arts—and do you feel that there are enough Muslim women
going to school to major in art-related fields?
DO IT! The challenge with pursuing an art-related career is that art and being a professional artist is hard work with lots of effort, thinking, learning, networking and more. It takes time to discover and perfect your style but, once you do, you will know how to apply it and make a career out of it.
A professor once told me, “Why look for a job when you can create one? Turn what you love into a career and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I think it’s something to do with that “artist mindset.” tweet
I feel like the number of Muslim women going to school for art-related fields is growing and I’m so excited. There is always room for more artists/writers/ and all things artsy.
Where do you see yourself and your company in 10 years? What do
you hope to accomplish, as both an artist and an entrepreneur?
I hope to grow Manzili 3D into an international African/contemporary architecture and interior design firm, as well as design unique furniture, home decor and art pieces—basically all things home related—as well as innovate and revolutionize tribal Sudanese art.
Due to the current political climate, there has been a steady rise in
Islamophobia and hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. How can
artists such as yourself use their talent to combat these unfortunate
Yes, it’s unfortunate. However, artists around the world are using their talents to combat issues, raise awareness or simply be talented Muslim artists respected worldwide. It’s inspiring to see Muslim artists who are in the spotlight, such as Sudanese artist Khalid Albaih, an artist who creates political cartoons bringing up the latest issues in very powerful ways that are shared by the thousands all over social media.
As an artist, I also have to play a role in our community. I have worked with many local organizations that welcome refugees. About once a year, I put out a full new collection with proceeds going to help the refugees.
Finally, where can our #MuslimGirlArmy find your beautiful artwork?
Check out Huda’s artwork on her website and let us know what you think! I have a feeling you won’t be disappointed.