As the line to the counter moves slowly, crawling towards their morning supply of caffeine, she sits in her favourite corner sipping her regular flavoured coffee. Some can already feel better by just uttering their order to the barista, while others drag their feet in the direction of the long-awaited styrofoam cups. From her seat, she observes her subjects of interest and all the stories hidden under their daily attire.
To her, a slight nose bump is a bold distinctive curve carved in gold; meanwhile, a thin line of a lip is a crimson heart-shaped ruby. People walk in and out, following the rhythm of her pencil against the jammed sketching papers.
Shahd Tarek is a self-taught artist, who believes in the non-verbal outreach of a simple drawing. As a woman of few words, Tarek keeps her art simple and straightforward, depending on the subtle eloquence of abstract expression.
“Growing up, I have always been interested in art. I am a graphic designer by education. Meanwhile, I am a firm believer in abstract art. I like connecting things with one straight line. One of my most favourite hobbies is sitting in cafes and drawing people,” the artist said while flipping through her monochromic pad. “I do not sketch precise features; instead, I focus on their most evident facet and draw them in one-line style.”
After a lifetime of tracing features with her sharpened pencil, Tarek decided to share her family of strangers with a wider circle of people, who can see the world hidden within her fine lines.
“A lot of people used to advise me to showcase my work in galleries. Nonetheless, I have never been a fan of them. I do not want my work to be seen once, or even worse, end up in the background of a social gathering. People often dress up and visit galleries to be seen there, not to appreciate the available art,” said the designer.
As someone who pours her thoughts into minimal lines, Tarek is a firm believer in the honesty of visual expression and the privacy of her nameless characters. Therefore, the notion of showcasing her work to the public has always been driven by her desire to witness people connecting with her art. Therefore, jewellery came as an obvious route to not only reach out to her audience directly but to also be able to turn her strangers into acquaintances.
“By wearing my art, my clients become a walking gallery. With time, it should become a recognisable signature that people can associate with me. Common fashion and jewellery awareness has been on the rise recently, especially earrings. Therefore, I thought of this medium as my way to go,” said Tarek while fiddling with her earring.
Despite their minimal approach, their manufacturing process was anything but simple. According to Tarek, the road to obtain a tangible interpretation of her ideas included a few barriers, detours, and crossroads. Her search for a workshop that understood abstract art took up to six months, as well as a countless number of failed attempts.
“My very early attempts to manufacture one of my designs were quite frustrating. I went to various workshops in search for the quality I had in mind. Craftsmen could not grasp my concept and just did not deliver what I needed. It was a discouraging journey of back to back disappointments until one friend referred me to a workshop run by an artisan who specialises in fine abstract designs,” said the designer with a grateful smile.
Driven by her belief that the perfect timing for this concept is right now, Tarek opted to prevent any procrastination and start following her passion. Therefore, she did not apply to courses, preferring to take the long road. Through turning her sketches into silver accessories, the designer has found the fast track to learn an intricate mastery.
“Finding the suitable workshop was a life-saving event. I currently learn through direct experience. Working with the craftsmen has taught me a lot of technicalities. Hopefully one day I might be able to start personally producing my sketches,” said the designer joyfully.
Following the course of all new local designers, Tarek chose to depend on social media as an awareness and outreach platform. For months, her ensemble of familiar faces remained unnoticed among the constantly expanding number of Instagram accounts. Until one morning she woke up to a continuous peep of notifications and surprising number of new followers.
“I believe in being at the right place at the right time. A couple of months after starting, I was at a party, when I met a blogger who asked to take a picture of my earrings,” Tarek said, excitedly adding, “after her post, people started noticing my account little by little, until the snowball effect occurred and suddenly, people began to acknowledge my work.”
As an introvert, Tarek is not the typical social butterfly. Instead, she prefers to keep her outings limited and her circle of friends narrow. According to her, words have rarely ever been her chosen method of expression.
For her, “Inner Workings” is not only the name of her brand, but also a philosophy. Everything is stored within and all thoughts erupt from the “inner” conscience. Meanwhile, the “workings” are led by the hands. As an artist, she tends to take everything that she sees and develops it with her hands in order to make jewellery.
“Inner also signifies personal traits such as strength and beauty; things that could only be felt and not seen. While workings is the method that each person chooses to follow in order to express that attribute,” the designer explained.
Her designs are sincere emblems of the “Inner Workings” as well as the nature of human differences. Despite displaying obvious nonconformity, the single earrings could be mixed and matched. “They are not similar, yet they go together. Just like humans, each one of us is different; however, we all find a way to connect,” said Tarek.
Her signature one-line drawings are the core of her current series of statement earrings. Nonetheless, she aims to follow this aesthetic to experiment with other forms of wearable expression. Faces and body parts will always remain essential. However, her designs might expand to accessories or even clothes.
Adorned with the likes of rubies and pearls, her silver heroes flaunt distinctive red lips and charming blue eyes. Meanwhile, they also get their own beaded earrings at times. Nonetheless, they never get obscuring skin.
“My designs are all see-through without layers to indicate skin. I like to believe that deep down we are all the same. Therefore, I would like to see my earrings everywhere; endorsed by all types of women,” Tarek concluded.