After the Middle East Film & Comic Con as they returned to sunny Doha, DFI met with Qatari animators Kholoud Al Ali and Fatma Al Nesf to chat about their participation in the celebration of comics, anime, film, imagination and art.
DFI: What made you start with anime?
Kholoud Al Ali: Since we were kids, we have watched Japanese anime on TV so it affected us as we grew up, and today there is a lot of attention given to animation and anime artists, more than ever. It has become a huge trend.
Fatma Al Nesf: I grew up watching anime and I spent a lot of time staring at the screen and being influenced by the anime world. I have also had this love for colour and doodling with pens since I was a child. I always knew how to express myself through drawings more than words.
DFI: Can you tell us more about your participation in Comic Con?
KA: Our participation was in the form of an art book that collected the best work of three female artists: Assma Al Rumaithi from the UAE, and Fatma and myself from Qatar.
FN: I participated last year with posters that had samples of my work. One of the posters was ‘Kaifi’, the drawing that became a huge trend through social media. It was so big that it became my logo and people recognise it everywhere. This year, I brought ‘Kaifi’ back and also participated in the art book.
DFI: How did the group meet and decide to start this book?
KA: The book was mainly for our participation at MEFCC, where artists gather to show their work. We sold a lot of copies there and we hope to do a second book soon. On Instagram a lot of people follow us and our work, and through the interaction we learned there is a demand for the book. It helped us test our art and find out people’s opinions.
FN: We knew each other from the days when we used to participate on online forums. We met artists from across the Gulf and the Arab world and we learned and developed so much through the Internet. It used to be our only knowledge source about anime. We spent years only knowing each other that way, but we finally met and decided to collaborate together and put our best work in this book.
DFI: As female animators, what are your views on the rise of anime in the Gulf?
KA: There is a great animation movement in the Gulf and it’s developing. Before, people used to make fun of animation – ‘It’s a kids’ game’, that’s what they would say – but now even the older generations are into animation and are becoming fans. The artists who gave their drawings a Khaleeji touch helped the society to accept it more easily.
FN: There is a lot of focus and attention on animation. In the UAE, there is greater attention, especially after the production of ‘Freej’, but even in Qatar and the rest of the Gulf countries, there is growing support for this industry. At MEFCC, I met great Khaleeji artists and experts whose talents will blow your mind.
DFI: What do you hope to accomplish with your art?
KA: Nothing specific. I only want to share my work with anime audiences in the Gulf and around the world.
FN: My biggest dream is to start an art institute where I work for art only, and where I can teach artists how to develop their talents then show their work to audiences. We have so many talents who need guidance and a good push in the right direction. Over the past years I have met amazing young artists who are only 12 or 13 years old and they can draw better than I could when I was their age. For them I call on all the experts to help these talents and to mentor them and not be afraid that they’ll be better than them. We are all here to help each other and when you are helpful and open, you will find your way to success.
DFI: Who inspire you in the Anime world?
KA: I am inspired by many artists and anime legends. I admire Miazaki’s world and I aspire one day to reach his level. I also like Morikami and Kagaka styles.
FN: I am also inspired by many artists. Through Instagram, I was fortunate enough to meet many artists and I am inspired by them whether they are experts or amateurs. Even children’s drawings inspire me.
DFI: Do you hope to have your work turned into a movie?
KA: Right now we are working on a short animation film in collaboration with Innovation Films. The first film, where you learn and experiment, is always the hardest. I hope that this film will be the first step in that direction.