Hasan al Lawai meets Widad Al Harthy, the lady who Omanises video game covers
A bearded Finn the Human? Rick and Morty wearing kummas? An Arab Goku! That’s amusing.
And the woman behind this lofty, local transformation of your favourite video game characters is a young Omani artist brimming with new ideas and gifted with a pair of hands that whip up incredible twists to the tales.
Widad Al Harthy, 22, is a an artist who enjoys recreating video game covers, and her latest work, Omani Grand Theft Auto, is making ripples on social media.
A fan of retro games, like Sonic and Super Mario, the Omani lady has mush-room (pun intended) to spread and sprout: her drawings have been appreciated by international celebrities like Chris Brown and Alfredo Flores.
As a kid she was happier playing video games than doing the other usual things kids of her age normally indulged in for fun. “I used to sneak into my mother’s room and just played video games,” she says.
Equipped with an iPad and talent, Widad undertakes commissions from individuals and corporations. Celebrated Yemeni singer Balqees Fathy has approached her with a request to use one of the art works in a snap filter.
She is not a full-time artist, though. And that means she needs a bit of time to fine-tune the stuff she creates. “It usually takes me seven to ten days to finish a piece,” Widad says.
If you had visited the recent 968Gamez event, you would have observed that Oman had loads of gaming fans but very few artists had been painting their favourite characters.
Widad is planning to start her own clothing brand featuring her sought-after designs. But, like most Omani artists, she too is disappointed with the lack of local interest and support.
“At least 80 per cent of my commissions come from the United States,” she says, explaining that many local companies ask for free designs.
“Even if it takes an artist just five minutes to finish a design, he/she studies for five years to master the art, and that costs money,” she argues.
Not everyone is closing the door on talent, however. “Some Omani entrepreneurs do support me, like Flaws, Burger Place, and Just Jam,” Widad says with a smile.
You may follow Widad on Instagram at @illhueminartsy