ARTS CORNER : Meet Tehlai Mahdi

Hey quirky gang,

I have clearly neglected my ARTS corner and what better way to bring it back to life than with an exciting interview. This months feature is Tehlai Mahdi,an artist based in Botswana.I have been following her art for a long time,last month I finally got the courage to ask for an interview and she said YES or else you would not be here reading this post.As always I have included a ton of her work and I hope by the end of this post you will fall in love with her art as much as I have.

Tehlai Mahdi


1. How would you describe yourself in 5 words?

  • Strong
  • Talented
  • Opinionated
  • Ambivert
  • Unique


2. What got you into art and how long have you been painting?

Depression and anxiety got me into art. I was not really good at expressing myself and I couldn’t go to my family so I bottled in my emotions which didn’t come with good results. Every time I felt sad or angry instead of cutting myself like I used to I then grabbed my sketch pad or wrote a poem.


3. If you were to collaborate with an artist dead or alive who would it be?

Alive-It would have to be Wilson Ngoni
Dead- Picasso ๐Ÿ˜‚


4. Do you collect anything?

I used to have a wide collection of cologne bottle and perfume cans but they got too many. Now I just collect thrift store clothing ๐Ÿ™ˆ

5. What does a normal day in your world look like?

A normal day is basically me getting up and creating art as soon as I get some food into my system. I’ve been pretty occupied with writing my book so I haven’t really painted in a few months. So I spend most days writing or doing social media networking.


6. What 3 things inspire your paintings?

Life, experiences & my surroundings

7. If you had to be a movie or cartoon character who would you be and why??

I’d have to be a low budget Meryl Streep in the movie “The Devil Wears Prada” ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜… she was a strong woman that knew what she wants and needed everything to be precise. I feel like that is how I am when it comes to my work. I’ve had people collaborate with me tell me that I’m a bit intimidating and demanding so yea.


8.What topics or movements are you passionate about?

I’m passionate about the fight against rape, abuse (human & animal abuse) and ending world hunger.


9. Are there any active societies or events that support art in Botswana if so what are they?

I would say “Chillstep” is doing their thing but after a very unprofessional exchange between the director and I, I stopped following the brand. Besides that living in Francistown is a bit of a problem because art is not really appreciated this side as much as it is in the city. Thapong Visual Arts is doing a PHENOMENAL job but problem is they are only located in Gaborone.


10. How many tattoos do you have? Could you tell us the story behind one of them?

I have 30 tattoos. ๐Ÿ™‚
My favorite one is the one that’s on the left side of my breast starting from my ribs. It’s a skull with a purple bow on it with hearts going to my areola.
I got it when my grandmother passed away in 2013. That tattoo represents the love-hate relationship I had with her because when I was younger we were very close but when I became a teenager we drifted apart and I was terrible hence the skull. When she passed we weren’t on talking terms and I took that pretty hard.

11. What is the most annoying stereotype you have been associated with or heard regarding artists?

An annoying stereotype has been that artists are not intellectual and that the only reason why we do art is because we have no choice but to. People forget that art is all around us from the clothes we wear, newspapers, cars, our phones, basic paper that we write on etc. so they only see art as rapping, drawing, painting and all they look down on that.


12. Which one of your art works would you say has been the most thought provoking, even for you?

There’s one painting I did when I was pregnant, it was a naked woman in a room by the coastline and on her vagina and areolas I put dried up paint. A lot of people think it is a very explicit painting but the reason behind it was that no matter how many men you let see your beauty it doesn’t matter unless YOU know your worth. So every man you lay with will keep taking a bit of your self and you’ll dry up and lose your worth ๐Ÿ˜“.



13. Do you have a bucket list?if yes,can you tell us three things that are on it?

1. Go to the Great Wall Of China
2. Backpack Southern Africa
3. Get an ancient style of tattooing which the artist taps ink into your skin ๐Ÿ˜

14. You have such an adorable daughter, how has motherhood changed you and has it had any impact on your art?

Thank you so much ๐Ÿ˜Š motherhood changed me immensely. I went from being a narcissistic person to being someone that thinks of her daughter before anything else. I become more relaxed, level headed and caring. My art is more detailed now then how it was before because I used to rush my pieces but now I love taking my time and paying attention to detail.


15. Do you make a living out of your art, if so how can one purchase one of your paintings?

I TRY making a living of my art. One can purchase or see my work on my artist page and see if anything is your style but I do custom pieces and mosaics so I’m very flexible. I’ve been thinking about painting walls and ceilings but that’s a story for another time โ˜บ๏ธ

16. What advice would you give younger you?

I’d tell the younger me to forget what people keep spewing at you because at the end of the day all you have is yourself so the choices you make should make YOU happy. It’s your life baby girl ๐Ÿ’›.


I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did,be sure to follow her on all her social mediaย platforms below.Do not forget to place an order so you get to hang some of this awesomeness on your wall.


Twitter: @Tehlai_X
Instagram: @tehlai_x
Facebook page: @artsbytehlai

Until next time

Ciao xoxo



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