Chicago-born Palestinian-American artist Janan Shihadeh got into the industry in a less than conventional way. Having turned down an offer to study at the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, because her parents didn’t think she could make it a career, she moved to Washington DC and landed a job as assistant painter
to a great muralist, finally getting her big break. We find out more about her career and what sparked her desire to create bespoke bags.
What gave you the idea to paint on bags?
The idea came to me eight years ago when a friend dropped espresso on her white Balenciaga bag. I took it from her and transformed the coffee stain into a geisha woman with psychedelic fl owers. Friends loved it and would ask me to do the same on their bags, but I never had the time because I was very busy in my decorative arts business in Cairo. When I moved to Dubai, a friend of mine wanted her bag painted – I was desperate to paint, because I didn’t have a studio at the time, so this is how it all began again.
Do you have a favourite design in all of your creations?
Yes I have several, but the very best was a Cheeky Queen of England on a Louis Vuitton Speedy!
What medium do you use to paint with?
I use specialised leather paints that are waterproof and crack proof and vibrant in colour. Priming the leather to accept the paint is key. I’ve seen customised bags that are cracked and peeling, because the wrong paints are used without proper priming methods.
How long will the designs last?
It’s very durable, but I can’t say forever. Like with all customised things, you need be careful with them.
If you could see any celebrity holding one of your bags, who would it be?
In terms of style, I love Cate Blanchett or the former editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, Carine Roitfeld.
For more on Janan Shihadeh visit www.jananart.com.
Dependent on the size of bag and mural. Ask for a quote in store.
Three to four weeks from order to delivery.
Janan can paint on anything: bags, wallets, belts and more. She can also paint on any material, it doesn’t have to be leather.