Walaa Fadul graduated from ECA’s MA Graphic Design programme in 2019.

Walaa Fadul has just been selected as one of 11 participants in a training scheme for new artists run by the prestigious King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Saudi Arabia. The training programme aims to support and further develop participants’ artistic practice through several professional development sessions led by experts in the field of contemporary art. The programme will support Walaa in developing a well-rounded artwork proposal for Ithra’s next contemporary art exhibition.

We caught up with Walaa at this pivotal point in her career and asked her a few questions…


What have you been doing since you graduated in 2019?

After I graduated, I decided to dedicate some time to exploring the Saudi design market, when I worked on several projects as freelancer.

Early this year I joined Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Dammam as a graphic design lecturer.

Why did you decided to apply for the Ithra Open Call for Emerging Artists? Why did it appeal?

As an artist, a designer and a creative person who is not used to working alone, I wanted to be open to new opportunities and challenges, especially after months of closure cause by the Covid-19 pandemic, and Ithra was the ideal place to offer me that.

Ithra describes themselves like this: “Ithra is unlike any other. Ithra stands as a beacon of change in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and as a window to global experiences. At Ithra, we celebrate human potential as the greatest source of change; we focus on accelerating that potential by and empowering talent.”

Thus, it is a magnificent starting point for creatives to get themselves noticed locally and globally.

Worms eating ‘Six Feet Under Booklet’ by Walaa Falud
Image: Walaa Fadul
Worms eating ‘Six Feet Under Booklet’ by Walaa Fadul

"I have been trained to be a designer, but I hold a soul of an artist. I believe that this programme is the juncture for me to finally becoming a practicing artist!"

Walaa Fadul, MA Graphic Design 2019

What does being on the programme mean to you?

I am humbly honoured to be selected as one of the 11 shortlisted artists out of hundreds of applicants.

I am delighted because there are few events or opportunities for emerging artists in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Being on the programme is not only a chance for to me to work outside my comfort zone but also to share my insight, inspire minds and encourage creativity.

I have been trained to be a designer, but I hold a soul of an artist. I believe that this programme is the juncture for me to finally becoming a practicing artist!

Birds eating ’Snack Posters' by Walaa Fadul
Image: Walaa Fadul
Birds eating ’Snack Posters' by Walaa Fadul
This is _________ growing shapes by Walaa Fadul
Image: Walaa Fadul
This is _________ growing shapes by Walaa Fadul

What did you hope to learn?

I am a curious artist, who is still trying to strengthen her own voice. So having the chance to undertake five days of training led by experts in the field such as Konstantinus Chatziantonious, was a golden opportunity for me.

In the beginning, I was so concerned about what questions I should ask and what should I say, I had no limit or expectations of what I was hoping to learn. Then, I realised that I was learning more by engaging in the conversation with the instructors, coordinators and other the participating artists.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your time at ECA and living in Edinburgh and Scotland?

When someone says Edinburgh, I say rebellion!

Edinburgh was a huge turning point in my life. During my studies, I experienced criticism, depression, anxiety and grief …. Call it what you want, but I managed to survive, I managed to unlock my fears, to believe in myself. Simply, I was reborn in Edinburgh with much more respect for my abilities as a woman.

My experience of getting my master’s degree was the most challenging and demanding experience I have ever encountered in my life, especially during my stay abroad and taking care of a child by myself. However, there have been many extraordinary outcomes of this exquisite worrisome journey. Establishing self-discipline, feeding my curiosity and widening my gaze are just a few examples. I have become a totally different person, more knowledgeable and less judgmental, and this fact alone is an adequate personal motive to pursue my accomplishments and start my real practical life.

At the end I want to take this chance to thank ECA for providing all the help and support I needed at the time.

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