Yahya Rushdan credits challenges and communities for his artistic growth

Today we’re talking to artist Yahya Rushdan, whose detailed illustrations have improved immensely since he began sharing them online in 2022.

By joining artistic communities and participating in online drawing challenges, he was able to stay active and motivated, even while working as a doctor at his day job.

Read the full interview below, and check out his Instagram profile for his latest illustrations!

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Tell us a bit about yourself

Yahya Rushdan self portrait
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

I consider myself a traditional artist. My work is mostly ink and watercolour, usually on a sketchbook. I share my artwork on Instagram.

Read also: Watercolor for beginners: An in-depth guide

What do you consider your best or favorite piece so far?

Yahya Rushdan plane crop
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

My favourite piece has to be the giant plane I created using prompts from Inktober. It took me 3 months to finish the piece (the prompts are released weekly) and I drew them using the grid technique.

I recently completed my 4th sketchbook and I have to say a lot of my favourite pieces are in that book.

Your online portfolio has grown significantly in just over a year. How long have you been drawing? Where did you learn or how did you start?

Yahya Rushdan shoe illustration
Early sketch. Photo via Yahya Rushdan

I have always loved drawing since I was a child. Initially, I wanted to become a comic artist/animator but my parents asked me to pursue my education.

Yahya Rushdan key illustration
Early sketch. Photo via Yahya Rushdan

I recently became active in drawing in April 2022 and started sharing my works online. Above are a few of my drawings from my 1st sketchbook. I usually draw anything that is in front of me.

Tell us about your workspace

Yahya Rushdan illustrator workspace
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

My workspace has always been a small table I have in my bedroom. Nothing fancy, I think.

Above is my workspace now… the same small table but added a few organization tools for more space on the table.

Yahya Rushdan old workspace
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

This was my table last year. I did not think a lot about the space as I work mostly on my small sketchbook.

What is your favorite medium or tool to work with?

Yahya Rushdan watercolor sketch
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

Ink and watercolour.

I usually use my fountain pen (current favourite: twsbi eco extra fine nib) but I use technical pens as well.

For watercolour I usually go with watercolour pans and never from a tube. I am a utilitarian at heart so a tube is a major bummer for me because it is so messy and time-consuming to prepare and clean up after.

Read also: Best watercolor sets: Beginner, professional, and traveler sets

You mention online that you are working as a doctor by day. How do you manage to find time for such detailed illustrations?

Yahya Rushdan doctor items illustration
Early sketch. Photo via Yahya Rushdan

I work mostly in my sketchbooks. With them, I can literally bring my studio anywhere and start drawing whenever I have time. I always find comfort and peace in drawing detailed things.

For bigger pieces, I draw in grid style so that I can spend 1-2 hours per day at home to draw and complete a grid.

Read also: Watercolor sketchbook buyer’s guide

Any advice for beginners?

Yahya Rushdan Howls Moving Castle
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

Just start drawing.

Don’t compare yourself to other artists who have thousands of hours of experience more than you.

Find a few artists that you look up to and love their style, copy their artworks a lot, and use them as a reference. Invest in buying their books and courses as well. Do this with several other artists that you like and your own unique style will develop.

Yahya Rushdan monochrome illustration
Early sketch. Photo via Yahya Rushdan

You have already seen my earliest works vs my recent drawings. The difference is mindblowing, even for me!

Joining a local artist society is a big boost as well. For me, joining @klsketchnation was the best decision art-wise. I got a lot of benefits from this group, such as a huge network of artists from the society, the option to join sketchwalks and learn from other artists, and a boost of confidence and motivation, just to mention a few.

Read also: The best watercolor classes online for beginners and up

Your work is an eclectic mix of robots, spaceships, storefronts, architecture, characters, and more. Who/what inspires you?

Yahya Rushdan frog illustrations
Photo via Yahya Rushdan

When I started, storefronts and archisketching were my favourite things to draw as they are quite simple and static.

@storefronts.japan was among the first accounts I stumbled upon for my inspo. I owe my interest in archisketching to @camilosketching from Instagram.

I recently took a lot of interest in drawing characters/robots/detailed illustrations after seeing great works from my favorite artists: Mattias Adolfsson, Jake Parker, and Marija Tiurina.

Also shoutouts to @charliepot.art for introducing me to the grid drawing challenge. From it, I was able to draw large pieces one grid at a time.

Anything else you’d like to share?

For art, I think just being consistent in drawing is the key. Give yourself a year to draw every day and only then see your progress. Don’t compare yourself with other established artists, but learn from them.

For social media, the best way to get a huge following is to join the art community that you love. Join a lot of drawing challenges (storefronts and archisketchers) and be active in commenting, sharing stories, etc. Reels is such a bummer for us artists but just hold on and you will get a hang of it.

Once you are active and people start to recognize you, it is only a matter of time before you build your own community. 

Where can people find your work?

I share most of my work on Instagram almost exclusively for now. I’m planning to start a YouTube channel really soon and maybe open an online store for my merch.

Find more of Yahya’s work on his Instagram profile @yahyarushdan.

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