MINSU meets... Mai Abuhendi / That Artsy Girl 013
Minsu Meets … Mai Abuhendi founder of That Artsy Girl
IG : @thatartsy_girl
website : www.thatartsygirl.com
FB : https://www.facebook.com/thatartsygirlbts/
Where are you from and when did you start working in the creative industries?
I’m originally from the Middle East from this teeny tiny island called Bahrain that most people don’t even
know about. I’ve been planet hopping since I turned 14, so I consider myself to be a citizen of the world.
I’ve lived in Seattle, Toronto, Dubai and now Scotland. I’m really lucky to be able to experience so many
cultures and have so many friends from all around the world!
I’ve always been interested in creative direction; I just didn’t know that it was an actual career path! It all
started one summer when I walked into a vintage pop-up shop and befriended the woman who ran it,
Mishka Balilty (@mishkabalilty). Fast forward to the next summer and I worked with her on another pop-up - Clutter (@myclutterstore), having shoots with vintage clothes everyday for the social media platform and throwing in-store parties. Mishka would look at me everyday and say, “Alright, what’s our concept? Where are we shooting? Let’s pull some clothes.” From there, I went on to work at a model agency and styling photo shoots with various fashion photographers and eventually directing and shooting my own concepts. I currently have a degree in Fashion Communication from Heriot-Watt and I’m completing my Honours this year.
What projects are you currently working on?
My biggest project at the moment is the publication I’m creating this year featuring independent designers
and creatives. I have an upcoming editorial in November for LGBTQ+ marital rights around the theme “Let
them Eat Cake” with Marie Antoinette inspired styling. It’s a super fun gay wedding with lots of ruffles and
Usually, I build my own concepts, but sometimes I have clients who come to me with a vague concept or
idea and I build on that then pull together a team from my list of contacts. I am really excited about working on creative direction for a scene for a new web series shot in Edinburgh called Down and Out – it’s a dark comedy with artistic direction and Trainspotting vibes. We’re still in the process of casting, so if you’re an actor get in touch!
What is the creative scene like where you are?
The creative scene in Scotland is definitely booming. It’s a great place to find talent, and I’ve developed an extensive list of contacts including film directors, models, set designers, makeup artists, stylists, animators and fashion designers. What I love about Scottish talent is the variety of unique voices and the passion and commitment they put into their creative expression.
What would you say have been your career highlights so far?
I’ve worked with fashion photographers in Toronto, London and Dubai. A recent shoot I styled in London
with photographer Tony Tran (@tonytranphotography) is published in the September print issue of
Ellements magazine in New York City. I’ve also worked on creative direction for local brands in Scotland
such as Squint Clothing (@squintclothing). I produced two fashion films for Squint’s branding with the help of a great team. You can watch them on the website www.squintclothing.com.
We are all about collaboration - do you think this is an important part of creating and if so then how has it changed the way you work?
Collaborations are key in the creative industry, and it’s at the heart of everything I do. I could come up with the best concept in the world but it wouldn’t be properly executed without the right team! It’s all about making a vision come to life, and when you have different people bringing in talent they’ve honed for years, it really helps to solidify the concept. I really vibe off other people’s energy as well, and that really fuels me when I’m working on set.
Who was/is your main influence?
As a creative director I am constantly drawing inspiration from a range of different artists, photographers
and directors. A handful of my favourites include Andy Warhol, Tim Walker and David Lynch. I have a
background in fine art as well and I believe in linking different art forms to fashion. “Love and Flowers” is a shoot inspired by Gustav Klimt paintings, and the creative direction for the web series is inspired by the
work of Pierre et Gilles. I guess that’s why my brand “That Artsy Girl” fits me so well!
I would have to say my main influence would be my mentor, Mishka Balilty. She’s got her hand in so many
creative fields such as acting, directing, styling and creative direction. I’ve watched her write a script,
rehearse for an audition and plan a fashion shoot all in the same day. She’s starting her own production
company in Toronto and she recently won best actress at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival for an
independent short film called Ink directed by Ashlea Wessel. I’m very fortunate to have her as a mentor
and a friend.
3 creators we should be checking out?
It’s so hard to choose because I know so many, but definitely check out Michelle Watson’s work at
@kitschmevintagescotland, Eleanor Stewart’s paper animations at @eleanor_paper and the zine
@spiltmilkmag. I believe in supporting independent brands and local designers and I’m very against fast
If you’re a creative or a brand and you’re interested in working with me, please get in touch!
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