I have been following and loving the henna work by Samia from Arts of Zaman for a super long time – Samia has such an awesome talent for henna design, which inspires me everyday! And I have to admit to stalking the Arts of Zaman Instagram feed a lot to practice my French comprehension (unfortunately, not really understanding much but I’m making an effort hah)
Where are you located?
I’m in Paris, France.
In one sentence, describe your motivation in life:
“No mediocrity”. It’s short and simple but it’s what I try my best to apply in my life.
Tell us the story of how you got started with your artwork/business:
It was a tradition back when I was young and on summer vacation in Morocco to get my henna done by my aunt (who lives there) before I would come back to France. She would literally travel from her city to ours just to do henna for my sister and I, knowing that otherwise we would leave sad.
She would do that when we were kids but as we grew up this tradition was not taken as seriously anymore. But to me, it was still very serious! I wanted my henna.
So, I gathered her supplies and started playing around. As for the business side of things, it was one of my best friends who first saw potential in what I was doing and really pushed me to propose my service to people.
What is one of your favourite henna designs that you have done and why?
It’s so hard to choose! First I’d eliminate every design I have done on clients that were inspired by designs they had brought to me, because as much as I put my own twist into it, it’s still not fully me. I tend to have a sweet spot for the henna designs that I came up with on people that I love, friends or family. I believe there’s a creative space inside each artist than only love can reach. I think that for many reasons my favorite would have to be this half glove. It’s everything i love, full, detailed, clean lines, a mix of thick and thin, geometric moroccan patterns… Yes i like that one!
What has been the highlight or ‘I can’t believe this!’ moment so far on your artistic/entrepreneurial journey?
Oh I’ve had so many. I never cease to be blessed with these OMG moments, but I have to say the very first (which triggered others) was when I got an email from Lili N’Guyen (a top nail artist) telling me she saw my work in Instagram and wanted me to do her henna.
I couldn’t believe I was being contacted by such a brilliant artist, because artists are picky and can notice flaws better than most, so there’s always a reason for an artist to book a specific someone. That felt great.
And it got crazier to me when I received a huge amount of positive feedback after doing her tattoos. You always wonder if you’re biased, if maybe you’re the only one who think you can do this and your friends compliment your work for the sake of friendship. But all of this felt like a stamp of approval, like “ok Samia, henna wasn’t a crazy idea”.
How does your faith affect your approach to your art/business?
My faith forces me to give my best every time I do something. I feel beholden to Allah (swt) for the gift of talent, for this ability to work with my hands. So it affects the way I do art as I’m constantly trying to do better than average.
Also, having this sense of justice that Islam gives, I try very very hard to not wrong anybody whether it be clients or partners. I’m always in that conscious state of responsibility. And because Islam makes me very big on using my time/this life with care, I make it a point to somehow mix spirituality and worship with art and business so that I’ve made the most of it.
What/where/who inspires you?
My dad, who is also a multifaceted artist, is a huge inspiration. His creativity is out of this world – he always worked on different mediums (plaster, wood, canvas, ceramic, fabric…) and that taught me from a very young age that there are no boundaries and you can do whatever on whatever. My dad also taught me to never be content with having one skill. Have two, three, four, never stop learning. That’s why as well as henna tattoos, I train in arabic calligraphy, graphic design, fine arts, etc.
How do you handle the inevitable creative block?
One thing I found that really works for me is to disconnect myself from the internet world. Being confronted every day on every social media feed I own with what other creative people come up with is frustrating when you’re stuck in that place where nothing wants to come out of you.
And the risk is that instead of coming out of a real inspiration deep inside of you, your art starts to unconsciously mimic what others have already done.
So yes, inspiration from others is good, yes at least you got out of your creative block, but did you really “create”? That’s why I completely withdraw into myself when I want to get my creativity back.
What 2 pieces of advice, based on your own experience, would you give to a fellow entrepreneur starting out?
I would tell them to take their time, nothing is worse than rushing into something. One steady step is better and way more effective than a race that makes you fall. It’s ok to stumble, you’ll get back up.
And I would tell them to not compare themselves to other people, we all have different paths, different ways, different lives. But we have the same fair Creator, so though it might not come to you under the same form as others, He will give you your share of blessings and success.
Favourite Social Media or Marketing Platform?
Instagram, hands down. I’m absolutely crazy about Pinterest though, but sadly I just can’t get the hang of it!
If you could travel to one place anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
I would go to Morocco. I always go to Morocco, it’s like this country has cast a spell on me. No matter how much I dream of travelling the world I swear somehow I end up in Morocco. The air is different, the colors are different, the silence sounds different.
I don’t know how close or far the countries that I dream to visit are from what I imagine them to be, so Morocco is my safe spot, my comfort zone.
Every trip to this land acts like a reboot for me. And let’s not forget that as my heritage, it’s a part of me, it runs in my blood.
Where would you love to see your business in 5 years time?
Hopefully I would have deepened my knowledge in Islamic art and design so much that I’d be able to allow myself to work on projects with a lot of substance. I would love to have a concept store where I could present every bit of art that I would have felt like creating, and sell cool things that I have made. And of course have a little henna bar in there!