Teen art tycoon|
By May Al Mousawi
Posted On » July 11 - 17, 2012 (Volume:10 / Issue 80)
Talented teenage artist Mohammed Al Shaikh is using his paintbrush and the entrepreneurial spirit he inherited from his late grandfather to promote art created in the kingdom to a global audience.
He is not only selling his own pieces but he has developed an online portal to display the work of fellow artists living in and around Bahrain.
Mohammed’s online art business, Al Shaikh Galleries, has proved so popular with visitors over the past 12 months he is now expanding the enterprise to offer customers a home-delivery service.
“Being young is my biggest unique selling point,” said the 17-year-old from Jurdab who attends St Christopher’s School and is currently studying for his A-levels in art, business studies and economics.
As an artist, Mohammed does more than just paint. He uses his talents as an outlet for creative expression and is helping to fill a commercial gap in the market.
Coming from a line of successful businessmen, the entrepreneurial schoolboy was determined to follow in the inspirational footsteps of his grandfather Ahmed Al Ghani, the late founder of Al Abbas Contracting.
“My grandfather has been a huge influence on me,” said Mohammed. “He started his own contracting company straight out of school.
“Being that I’m good at two things, business and art, I thought I should use these dual skills to my advantage and also follow his example.”
Before starting up his business enterprise, Mohammed needed capital, so he started selling his artwork and marketing his creations through social networking sites, as well as sending mass text messages to friends, acquaintances and family members.
By creating a name for himself, Al Shaikh Galleries was born; giving Mohammed the opportunity to develop a steely perseverance as the site slowly grew in popularity to attract more than 100 hits in a week.
“Success does not happen overnight,” he explained. “I seem to like suffering before achieving anything. It was slow to start but has now taken off. The biggest thing I have learned is that the key to running a business is patience,” he said.
A year on and Mohammed has expanded his website, adding sections to his online shopping centre, Art Mega Mall, which allows customers to purchase art to be delivered to their homes.
His latest addition, Al Fanan art initiative, which translates to ‘the artist’, is a platform where artists are welcome to sign up to the website and showcase and sell their own work and merchandise.
Mohammed: “I want to help local artists grow and aid them in establishing their names and businesses.”
His art work may be loud and raucous but Mohammed himself is attracted to the calm and quiet.
He does not come across as hard-nosed or ruthless. In his home guests are greeted by the smell of burning incense, the sounds of a babbling brook from a garden fountain and a Hindu mantra playing in the background. There is also an array of feng shui ornaments scattered throughout his tranquil abode, aimed at reinforcing the young artist’s relaxed soul.
Mohammed, perhaps a hippie at heart, describes himself as ‘holistic’. “Although I am a Muslim, I am still very interested in many different religions and cultures. Tranquility is very important for an artist and acts as inspiration,” he explained.
“After suffering from pneumonia when I was 12, I grew an interest in feng shui and eventually started meditating. It really connects me to my surroundings. You feel a special type of energy and you start seeing things differently.”
One of his remarkable paintings was produced entirely with his eyes closed, holding onto a rose quartz. It conjured up an image of love, with a heart shape at its centre, exactly, he says, the energy the rock is meant to exude.
He is inspired by the work of celebrated Bahraini artist Abbas Al Mosawi and European masters such as Picasso.
His first collection focuses on Bahraini culture and he believes it sends young people a message about the importance of reconnecting with their heritage.
The recent unrest has also motivated him. Mohammed said: “We have a lot of rich history and what with the problems in the region I decided to focus my art on Bahraini culture and heritage to showcase the important and happy side of Bahrain … the truth and the history.”
Mohammed’s parents, Taleb Al Shaikh, CEO of Luna Real Estate Company and his mother, Zahra Al Ghani, owner of Al Abbas Contracting, are proud of their son’s endeavours. “He has a passion which will help him now and in the future and we will support him in any way we can,” said Mr Al Shaikh.
They also have a daughter, Fatima, 12, who also attends St Christopher’s School.
Mohammed hopes to one day expand his business empire further and team up with companies around the island to produce an Al Shaikh art equipment line as well as other merchandise.
And that’s not all. “My dream is to create an art centre where artists can make a good living. I want to create a proper working, breathing and living sanctuary for all artists in Bahrain,” he said.
It’s just a matter of waiting for the right opportunity … and Mohammed has the patience and at 17 has plenty of time to make his dreams come true.
Visit www.alshaikhgalleries.com or call 38488466 for more details.