Najla AlSuhaimi is a second-generation family member who joined her Saudi Arabia-based family business as an Executive Manager in 2010. Today, her love for the arts have seen her co-founding a platform called Loud Art, which provides regional artists the opportunity to showcase their unconventional styles. In this interview with Tharawat Magazine, Najla shares how her family business background and personal passion shapes her entrepreneurial drive.
Tell us the story of how Loud Art was founded.
Loud Art started as an experimental platform that was conceived by Raneen Bukhari and myself. As residents of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, Raneen and I were struck by the lack of a diverse art scene. We realized that there was a need to jump-start the art community and introduce people to different mediums and experimentation.
This ultimately led us to found Loud Art, which gave amateur artists a platform to showcase their talent and gave established artists a space to display experimental art that deviates from their typical styles.
How does Loud Art work and what can people expect from its exhibits?
Loud Art operates as a traveling art platform that moves to a new city every year in order to expose our artists to the largest group of people possible. At the start of each year, we begin by deciding on a theme and initiate a call-out to artists throughout the region. Then we look through the submissions and curate the artwork and artists that will travel with us. Our selection is usually made depending on the unique concepts that the artists provide, rather than concentrating on their portfolio and previous work.
Attendees to the Loud Art exhibitions can expect new perspectives, younger voices, and a joint vision that strives to showcase exciting and affordable art for everyone. This year will be particularly interesting because we will be incorporating Omani artists into the roster for the first time.
Why is it important that regional artists have the platform provided by Loud Art?
The more platforms that exist, the better it is for the artists because they get a chance to showcase their work to a bigger audience. We work alongside artists to help them grow without being forced to change or alter their unique ideas and concepts.
What is the current state of art patronage in the Middle East? Do you think there are enough interest and support fueling the community of artists?
There are a number of patrons that are pouring their money into the art market throughout the Middle East, including new museums such as the Guggenheim, the Louvre and Qatar‘s Museum of Arab Modern Art. There are also prominent royal names and financiers who spend large amounts of money on art.
Overall, there are differing levels of support in Middle Eastern countries, with the UAE among the more actively involved, but this is not the case everywhere. I believe that more art patrons and governments should be involved in investing in this sector so that we can have a sustainable creative economy in the Middle East.
The region is in great need of art societies that help and support each other, as well as art and art history education in schools and universities. In addition, there is still much room for museums, art consultancies, and art production companies.
How has your background as a family business member helped you run an operation such as Loud Art?
Working with the family business taught me how to work with people coming from different backgrounds as well as equipping me with the technical know-how to succeed. It also helped me understand that with hard work and perseverance, dreams can come true.
My parents (in particular my father who is an architect and artist), were the ones who taught me everything I know about art. They took me to travel the world and visit and art galleries and museums in different cities in order to teach me art history and embed in me a passion for the arts.
As an enterprising founder of Loud Art, what are the top 3 advice that you wish to give to other entrepreneurs and leaders?
1. We need be more open to joining forces and working together so that we can accomplish more as a collective instead of only competing against each other.
2. We need to believe in ourselves and set our minds to shoot for the impossible no matter how hard things may seem.
3. Life is a journey – live with no regrets, reflect, and learn to move on.