As a young artist growing up in Nablus, when Rawshan Malhis discovered that local art shops weren’t carrying sketchbooks, she decided to create and start to sell her own sketchbooks with beautiful covers. Though her original business model did not work out and sketchbooks are now available locally, like any resilient and successful entrepreneur, Rawshan was not discouraged. She participated in TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program (YREP) in the beginning of 2017 to learn how to grow her business. Rawshan now specializes in creating beautiful portraits and providing beginner art courses for anyone from 10 to 35 years old. TYO recently caught up with the 24-year-old artist, entrepreneur, and law student, to see how she has implemented the skills she gained from YREP.
As a part of the interview, Rawshan showed us the room where most of her artwork is created and proudly yet carefully displayed. Her room defies any stereotype of the messy artist. Billie Holiday records and different Van Gogh sketchbooks cover her deskside. As she says: “My life depends on details.” When looking at her portrait sketches, glass designs, and engraved wood pieces, it’s hard to believe that Rawshan has never taken a formal art class. According to her, “art should aim to capture feelings” – after taking one look at her work, it’s clear that her own artwork is certainly driven by her emotions.
How long have you been an artist?
“I have been drawing for a long time, since I was a child. When you’re a child, you are passionate about so many things: playing, sports, drawing, singing, all these things. However, the people around you are the reason [why you pursue a certain passion]: my teachers at school would tell me, “you are talented, keep drawing, participate in competitions” – and I would win.
What motivates your creative work?
“I don’t want to be dramatic, but I would say that the pressure around you allows you to be creative. If not for sadness and pain, life would be very dry. As for sadness, I don’t see it as a negative emotion; it’s just an emotion. It plays a big role in all kinds of artistic creativity. If you look at the greatest musical pieces or the greatest portraits, they have a story behind them and these stories are very tragic.”
Why did you decide to participate in TYO’s Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program?
“I was encouraged to join TYO’s YREP because my dream is for people to know about my idea and project. My business idea wasn’t just to sell my drawings, I also wanted to teach art since there was a demand for that. I was already providing small art lessons: I would contact an organization and tell them I wanted to conduct a training in their organization. I set the prices for these classes at an affordable low price as a way to make it more accessible for others. But I wanted to develop my work further through the program at TYO.”
What would you tell other entrepreneurs that want to participate in YREP?
- “Be punctual. The most important thing is to be committed to the time. Try as much as you can to commit to the dates of the program.
- Don’t miss any training! Every word that is said in the training is important.
- Implementing is very important; go home from the training you had that day and implement it. The implementation isn’t hard. You will say, “I still don’t have a business,” no – you can implement it in the smallest details, even in your personal life you can implement what you’ve learned. Not only were we given advice on the business level but also on the social level: how to deal with people. Your engagement with your family becomes different, and the way you think also became different.
So, I advise them to benefit from each word and not waste any minute. Because this is a golden opportunity for real.”
YREP helped Rawshan to better promote her artistic ideas and her personal story. Following trainings on marketing and social media, she created a Facebook page that showcases her artwork and business. Through its program, TYO provides young, passionate, and driven Palestinians like Rawshan with the skills and networks they need to turn their ideas into reality. If you are a Palestine-based entrepreneur, check out TYO's Youth Rehabilitation Entrepreneurship Program to learn more about how you can develop your own business ideas!