Owner of The Print Room, teaches print-making, a graphic designer [by degree], bag designer and gallery agent out of London: Those are some of the attributes our Up Close and Personal interviewee used to introduce herself with a huge smile. A true maverick in her artistic discipline, Haya Al Abdulkareem is a multifaceted talent on a mission: To educate and provide a space for screen-printing in Kuwait. “Oh, and I also represent some international brands in Kuwait!” Haya quickly chimed in. In essence, she splits her time between two platforms – fashion and art – and would rather stick to being known simply as Haya, sans any fancy title!
Managing a fashion showroom under the name Print Stories, Haya looks after designers that produce hand-crafted, high-end fashion pieces. Then, there’s The Print Room, which acts like an art hub [a collective even] for people to come and produce artwork. An incubator for artists that want to not only produce, but also to showcase their print-making skills as well. The Print Room, in short, is the first of its kind here in Kuwait. But before we delve into the making of The Print Room and the inspiration behind it, we just had to know more about her bag line: Folklore.
“I’ve been doing it for four years now,” Haya gushed, “and it used to be exclusively sold at Harvey Nichols, but now it’s available all over Kuwait, online and in Greece – it will also be available in Saudi.” Using eco-friendly, zero animal cruelty materials, the bags are entirely handmade in Kuwait! “I even copyrighted the items!” she added. “I really like the shift in the local fashion industry and how people are taking the leap to create their own labels,” Haya explained. While some stick to showcasing on Instagram, she had taken her products a step further by registering her logo and going to the ministry to get it fully licensed and urges others to do the same.
“I’ve always wanted to study design,” Haya explained, “Be it art, graphic, fashion – I always knew I would end up in design.” As she was graduating High School, Haya applied to Central Saint Martins in London to study fashion. “I was only 17 at the time, so they accepted me to take an art and design foundation course,” Haya went on, “which was the best thing that ever happened to me. I went on a rotation for an entire year studying fashion, sculpture, fine arts, design, jewelry, photography and interior design. Once the year was done, everyone on the course had to apply to the university of their choice, so I reapplied to Central Saint Martins’ Fashion Journalism course.”
Haya was accepted to the program but had to sit for another interview which changed her career path. They had advised her to abandon fashion and head into graphic design – confused, Haya decided to take their professional advice and run with it. “I just wish I can thank them! Thank you thank you thank you – whoever you are. Going into graphic design was the best thing I’ve ever done because it helped me do everything I wanted to and also led me to print-making which gave me a purpose.”
By creating Print Stories, Haya is able to curate and market different brands regionally which she showcases seasonally at The Print Room’s gallery. While Print Stories is an online curation of brands that are backed by a strong craftsmanship ethos, The Print Room is an art incubator and gallery space, in collaboration with Visual Therapy’s Shahad Bishara. What led Haya towards creating The Print Room was the fact that Kuwait lacked a publically accessible print-making studio. She also enjoys working with artists and pushing them further to reach their potential – so the gallery space at The Print Room has been dedicated to exactly that. From there, the Print Room Collective (PRC) was born. The PRC is a group of young local artists that work bimonthly in accordance to a brief provided by Haya that revolves around a specific theme. The PRC’s job is to then run with the narrative and create their own interpretations of it.
Providing a space for people to collaborate on ideas, produce their individual work and then showcase it, Haya finds herself inspired to push the artists further. While the members of the PRC can come from any artistic focus, they all learn to use screen-printing to produce their final piece. Anyone can join the PRC as long as they approach Haya at one of the gallery showcases, which will then lead to an interview of sorts to assess their work and how it can benefit the collective. Apart from that, The Print Room offers a plethora of workshops! From screen-printing workshops to other artistic ones, Haya is always happy to accommodate those with a skill that they’d like to teach. “Everyone’s welcome!” Haya said.
From all the workshops Haya has hosted and given at The Print Room, her favorite one, by far, would be the children’s workshops. “As hectic as seven year-olds can be, they were my favorite to teach!” she laughed. Then, when she was approached by Nuqat to conduct a workshop with them, she was happy to do so. But if you missed the Studio Nuqat screen-printing workshop with Haya, fret not, you can always join in any of her workshops at The Print Room. And before she had to jet off to her next PRC meeting, we managed to get Haya to fill out our fun questionnaire.
Up close and personal questionnaire
What do you most value in your friends?
Honesty, and being understanding.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Health, success and family.
What is your greatest fear?
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Which living person do you most admire?
What is your greatest extravagance?
Being my own boss.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“No waaay”, “What the hell?!”
What is it that you most dislike?
Which talent would you most like to have?
Being invisible and the ability to fly or go back in time! Definitely.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
Travel reporter on National Geographic, or any travel channel.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
I still haven’t reached my greatest achievement, because if you think you have gotten to that point then you don’t know your true potential.
What is your most treasured possession?
My husband – is that even a possession? [laughs]
What is your most marked characteristic?
Where would you most like to live?
On a boat! (A yacht, hehe)
What are your favorite words to live by?
Never look back at the past, because it’s not yours to dwell on!
You can find The Print Room at the Waves Warehouses in Shuwaikh Industrial, behind Shuwaikh Market. For more information about their events, workshops and the collective, visit www.printroom.club or email them at [email protected]. Follow them on Instagram to check out their fun images and offerings @Printroom.club.