JEDDAH: For artist Hisham Al-Najjar, painting on canvas or papers is conventional.
Instead, the Jeddah-based artist uses pennies and other international coins as the backdrop for his impressive paintings.
“Collecting Saudi and international coins has been my hobby for the past 25 years because it has been my favorite hobby beside drawing and painting,” said Al-Najjar, who is an enthusiastic collector of international coins.
Al-Najjar revealed that he has a treasure chest with more than 100,000 coins from different regions around the world, which he collected through antique shops and rare coin auctions. He now uses them to create professional paintings.
He began working as a coin artist in 2015 after he retired from the trade industry in 2014.
The artist garnered attention when he started to display his work at events and festivals such as the National Day, Foundation Day, Jeddah Season and other local exhibitions.
Al-Najjar hit the spotlight after he created a picture of King Salman using coins from around the world. “The image of King Salman required 9,000 coins. It took a larger number of coins than the other portraits and it took me three months to finish,” he said.
“I then thought of (creating) artistic portraits of our crown prince and previous kings. I started with drawing their pictures and then filled them with coins.”
The artist has already made 40 other coin portraits including kings of Saudi Arabia, princes, and leaders of the Gulf countries — such as King Abdulaziz, King Faisal, King Fahad, King Khalid, King Abdullah, Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz, Prince Saud Al-Faisal, Shiekh Khalifa bin Zaid, Shiekh Mohammed bin Zaid and Shiekh Mohammed bin Rashid.
While displaying his coin portraits in Balad as part of the Jeddah Season, Al-Najjar told Arab News that his life had taken a different direction after he assembled all the pennies he had collected over the years to make portraits of prominent figures.
“Coins are really quite fascinating and as I got older, I had quite a massive supply of Saudi and foreign coins. So, when King Salman became the ruler of Saudi Arabia in 2015, I immediately thought of doing something new by using these coins to express my support to the new Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques,” he said.
The second-largest image that Al-Najjar created was of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with 2,800 coins.
Al-Najjar now hopes to sell his paintings to those interested in creative and distinctive artworks.
He also aims to make the largest portrait in the world with coins and enter it in Guinness World Records.