“Since I came to Charlotte, I decided I was going to work on something I love,” she said. “Being an artist is my way of living.”
Halah Z. Kheldoon (@hellasketchz) is a cartoonist born and raised in Baghdad. Kheldoon says since coming to Charlotte in 2016, she chose to follow her passion and make a living as an artist. We asked Kheldoon to share the three biggest challenges she is currently facing.
Kheldoon’s brand is based on her nickname, “Hella.” She shares her distinctive sketches on her social media platforms and sells some of her digital works in the form of shirts, mugs and accessories through her online shop.
While Kheldon’s cartoons are impactful in their own right, her creative dream is to “make a remarkable character, like ‘Tom and Jerry.’”
She said her passion for art is rooted in her childhood. “I got my love of art from my mom who passed away in Charlotte in 2015,” she said. “She was my first mentor.” As she grew up, Kheldoon says she forgot about drawing until she moved to America. “I found that I had a lot of time and wanted to do something useful with it. My friends suggested I start posting my drawings and cartoons. They liked them, and I had fun doing them, so that’s how it all started,” she said.
More than a mission …
When asked about what drives her, Kheldoon said art is more of a message than a mission: “Being here in the U.S. gave me more freedom to speak up about my thoughts and the problems we were facing back home — women’s rights on education and marriage, women facing harassment at work, and human rights.”
Most of her inspiration comes from her own experiences and the things she saw in Iraq. Mostly, she said, she wants to shed light on some of the social issues in her home country. “It’s not necessarily that I faced these things myself, but it might be something related to someone I know. These are the issues I try to explain in my cartoons.”
Kheldoon hopes that when people see her work, they think about the message behind the art instead of being judgmental about the artist. “The main concern is being judged by people back home … They say, if you leave your country and move to the U.S., you have no right to speak about anything going on back home.”
Kheldoon appreciates the creative community she has found in Charlotte. “It’s the best supportive community for everyone who has a creative mind and soul,” she said.
We asked Kheldoon to share the three biggest challenges she’s currently facing. Her answers, like her art, are as stirring and as they are succinct.
Halah Z. Kheldoon’s Three Biggest Challenges on June 17, 2021
- FINDING THE RIGHT OPPORTUNITY
Among all offers — paid and unpaid — it’s so challenging to know which chance will be the best chance to take.
- ADAPTING IN A NEW COMMUNITY
Being here from a different background, I’m trying to fit in a new culture and make new art that will attract people. But at the same time, I want to keep my identity clear and not lose touch with who I am.
- BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS
This is a very challenging task — to know how to make good money, how to brand myself and make a name for myself from my cartoons.
Hollah! at Hella sketchz on social, or grab some swag from her shop.
- Instagram: @hellasketchz
- Facebook: @hellasketchz
- Twitter: @hella_sketchz
- Shop: hella-sketchz.creator-spring.com
Halah’s Tribute to the Friends Reunion
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