Layla Ali graduated from the American University of Kuwait as a graphic designer, and that’s where it all started. Layla says, “People usually identify me as being artist, but I’m also pursuing other passions. One of which is writing. I’m part of the Kuwait Writing Club, which is basically a group of poets who share and perform their poetry. I love expressing myself in different ways, not just art. I use these methods as output, different ways of expression.”  Layla also takes part in different forms of physical activity. Be it be boxing, lifting, jogging, or other sports. But if she was to prioritize, or pick a favorite, it would be Art without a doubt. 

At what age did your love for art start developing and how did that affect your educational choices? I knew exactly what I wanted to be, from a very young age, and that is to become an artist. Knowing that graphic design is the closest thing to art career-wise, I chose it and pursued it. I took every art class I can get my hands on as electives in university. I used graphic design as an advantage. It opened my eyes to a lot of different things and visuals. 

It was a good choice, and something I can lean on or/and use as backup. 

There was never really a starting point during a specific time in my life where I realized, “oh, I think I like art”; it was always there. I’ve always known, and I’ve always been passionate. 

Layla Ali

Describe your artistic development throughout the years. During my early stages, I didn’t really have a direction, or style. I used to sketch more than I paint. I used to doodle a lot too. When I got into painting during my late teens and early twenties, that’s when I started developing a style. That’s when I started challenging myself with bigger canvases and pushing myself to create my best work and discover my full potential. 

What kind of artist would you classify yourself as? I would classify myself as an expressionist.

What is your favorite piece of art? My favorite work of art is actually a sculpture; Sami Mohammed’s An Attempt to Get Out.

Tell us about some of the work you’ve done for local businesses. When it comes to clients I try to create something that represents them and reflects their business, but at the same time still stay true to my style and identity. HMC (His Majesty the Coffee) was my first client, where I got recognition and publicity. After that clients started rolling in. I prefer people to analyze and come up with their own understanding from their perspective rather than me explaining and breaking it down for them. I’d rather make them think than give it away. 

Which piece of art do you relate to the most? My tryptic piece. 

Layla Ali

Describe the first time you entered an art gallery. The first time I participated in an art gallery was in AUK’s art competition, where I won second place for best painting. 

But my first real solo exhibition was last year (2016) at Al Makan. That’s where I introduced my art to people for the first time and got recognition. It was exciting and successful. Won’t be my last, for sure.

Words by Nadia Al Sayed