This is part of our ongoing series where we featured inspiring artists and illustrators from the Maker Mentors community. Hiba Bakhteyar is the Founder of Coffee and Pen Art where she focused on watercolor and acrylic paintings. Join our community to get updates delivered directly to your inbox.
What is the name of your business? And what do you do?
The name of my business is Coffee and Pen Art. Although the business started off focusing on watercolors and acrylic paintings, it has evolved to include graphic design and painting on a wide variety of substrates.
What kind of art do you make? How would you describe your art?
My art can be described as modern, fun and unique. I bring my travel experience as the initial inspiration for my work and build on it from there. This personal connection to each piece makes each work one of a kind. Each mixed media piece has a carefully selected antique music sheet or piece of poetry that brings not only a visual characteristic but also thought provoking one.
When did you start your career as an illustrator? How did you get started?
I started dabbing in watercolors after I could no longer stand the smell of oil paints. I had been painting oils since I was in 6th grade so it was quite a change to move to watercolors and ink. It was honestly a ‘practice makes perfect’ approach and lots of trial and error. I had a background in design and had taken multiple studio classes in university that really helped to develop my eye and the technical aspects of art. That was my initial move towards illustrating as opposed to just painting on canvas.
I started my career by letting people know that I was available and sharing my work. It is a terrifying prospect knowing that your work can be seen by everyone, but it is also good in helping get your name out. A lot of the projects I worked on, the clients had seen my work on Facebook or Instagram. I started off by just sharing my learning as it progressed in watercolors or whatever medium I was working on at the time, and eventually became into a business.
Are you professionally trained or self-taught?
I am professionally trained to a degree. I have a minor in design management and a soon to be certificate in graphic design. However, I took art classes all through high school, studio classes through university and just practiced practiced practiced.
How long have you been an illustrator?
I’ve been illustrating for 3 years now although it has been a mix of watercolors that have been digitized as well as digitized illustrations.
How did you get started as an illustrator?
I started off by getting my work out there, not necessarily to a publication but just on Instagram. I feel like Instagram really helped to launch my career in the sense that more people viewed my work on there then my website. I’ve never considered myself an illustrator but rather an artist with a wide variety of interests.
Where are you currently based?
I am currently based in Limerick, PA a little town in the Philadelphia suburbs.
How many hours per day or week do you spend creating art? Or how many pieces of art do you create on a weekly basis?
I usually manage to paint at least an hour or more after the kids are in bed. I have always been a night owl, so night time works best for me. On amazing days or when I have a big show coming up, I can get in up to 6 hours a night. Depending on the medium my average is at least a painting a day or more. Most days though, I have two or three paintings going on at the same time. This way, while one painting is drying, I can start on the others. I also try and do a page of a sketchbook a day.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Honestly, everywhere. It can be in the random shapes of a shadow, a picture I saw or a feeling that invoked a memory. I love gathering inspiration from Pinterest and Instagram but I always make sure to credit the source. I never copy directly but rather choose an element or two. Paintings of flowers though, I usually need a picture to get the shapes and shadows realistic. We recently visited Longwood Gardens in PA and I was able to take a gallery full of floral pictures to look back at later on. A lot of the landscape inspirations come from our travels and drives. There is a little hill that we go on every day and that spot really seems to spark my creativity strings every time.
Can you describe your creative process?
In one word, it would be ‘messy’. I might be the random few who cannot paint in an orderly place. I feel so conscious and scared of painting in a place where everything is perfect. To me, it seems very intimidating, like I might make a mistake. However, if I am in the chaos that is my studio, those fears melt away. There is no such thing as mistake just unexpected marks. It’s also easier to fling paint around when you aren’t worried about the perfection around you.
What project are you most proud of?
I am most proud of a painting that recently got selected to be in a publication. It is of a few women who are shopping in the bazaar. It was such a random piece, but it felt right to paint. I also screamed ‘OMG OMG OMG’ when I found out it had been selected as I had sent it in without any hope of being selected.
What are you working on right now?
These days, I am focusing on landscapes and florals for two upcoming exhibitions in January. I love creating both watercolors and acrylics so depending on my mood and the amount of time I have I create both daily.