Meet the Team – Najla Qamber

Meet the Team – Najla Qamber

by Jennifer Silverwood, August 1, 2018

Welcome to our blog all! We’re hoping this section of our site will be helpful along the way, from helping you pick a cover designer, to little articles and tutorials, as well as some author highlights to help market your books! But to start us all off. Each of the pillars of the company (Nada, Jennifer, and Myself) will do a little introduction post on the blog just for fun!

I’ll be honest with you, it feels kind of weird talking about myself to the community! I’m pretty sure this will be boring. But I’ll try to liven it up with a GIF or two. So here goes…

Hi! I’m Naj. I was born ‘Najla (insert three other names here) Qamber’ in a sunny hot 26th day of June in 1992.

 

I was born into an interracial family. My dad is Bahraini (Middle Eastern) while my mom is Filipino. During our younger years, my siblings and I were a little culturally and religiously confused (okay, maybe more than a little). None of us could speak Arabic because my dad was rarely home (he was a flight attendant and when he was back home, he mostly focused on building a business to really take care of us). All we had at home was English (which became our first language) and then Tagalog (which became our second).

We were bullied a lot while we were growing up. Mostly because we had Filipino blood in our system. That led us to many MANY traumatizing times. Which eventually triggered a lot of hereditary phobias, anxieties, depression, etc. I’m not going to get too into it. But along the way, I had a lot of anxiety problems. And ended up with a fear of being anywhere on my own. Because of that, I was forced to be homeschooled. It wasn’t too bad. Yea, sure I didn’t have a normal childhood filled with friends but I did love studying and reading textbooks. So it was fun in my own little nerdy way.

All that extra time people have for friends in school, I used that to make friends in Art forums and websites like DeviantArt.com (My cousin introduced me to this website, thanks Yasy!). Art became my sanctuary. Every time I was angry, sad, happy or excited. I would go to photoshop and create things. It was a HUGE help with my anxieties. And I think I did well for my age, Artwise.

I’ll be honest when I was around 11 or 12, I was actually sent to an institute to learn photoshop one on one with a pro, back when I lived in the Philippines. Though he didn’t train me to do all the fancy stuff I now know how to do today, he did teach me the basics. It was fun and DeviantArt became a great outlet for it. I spent many years drawing, painting, and photoshopping. Art wasn’t my only escape though. I found reading waaaay before I found photoshop and it will always be my favorite escape from my anxieties.

With all the reading I was doing, I was inspired to open up a book blog when I was about 15 or 16 (yes! I was a book blogger). Guess what pushed me into the book blogging world? Yep! Twilight! It started my obsession with YA Paranormal books and I read everything from Stephanie Meyers, P.C. Cast, Richelle Mead, etc. I started writing reviews and posting them up. I made friends with authors, other bloggers, and just had the time of my life in the book community, reading 100 books a year. That gave me some connections into the community before I started book cover design.

 

(Haven’t updated this blog in 4 years – pardon the sorry excuse of website design!)

Around the time I was 16 to 17 years old, I had enough digital art in my portfolio to get an internship at a prestigious branding consultancy here in Bahrain. You have no idea how scared I was to ‘go to work’. But thanks to my elder sister being there with me, and being my anchor in that strange place, I ended up conquering a few my anxieties. And I eventually found out that I love Graphics Design. From then and there, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

I quit my job to go to University, in hopes of being able to make a business out of it. Since Bahrain didn’t offer any Graphics Design courses that were affordable, I ended up taking Business. My internship, and my 5 years of photoshop before that trained me enough in Graphics Design, so I wasn’t too bummed by my choice to take Business. I knew if I couldn’t take up Graphics Design in the future, maybe I could learn to run a design studio, where I could hire designers to do their thing, while I did the admin work. If that didn’t work, I could learn how to run my dad’s business. There were tons of possibilities in case my original dream of running my own studio as Creative Director failed.

During my Uni years, I worked freelance for people here and there. But I slowly realized I didn’t like corporate design. I was afraid to handle the local clientele because of my anxieties (meetings and phone calls at that time triggered my anxieties – it was bad). Like realllllyyyy bad… Like rolling on the floor bad…

I had to stop freelancing for a couple of years because of it, and it broke my heart. Eventually, while writing a post on my book blog, and admiring the cover of the latest book I was reviewing. I thought to myself ‘I wish I could design book covers like this one day’. Then it clicked. Why the hell not? Not many people write books in Bahrain, but the rest of the world does? Maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with phone calls and meet-ups anymore if all my clients were abroad. Did I just find a way around my anxieties? Yes, I did!

So I tried it. In 2011, I designed a few (very bad) samples. Then wrote on forums telling them I’m offering the service for free to build up my portfolio. A little later because I didn’t have access to PayPal yet, I ended up being paid with books (LOVED THAT TIME). And then eventually, real money. Today’s success wasn’t an overnight thing. It was slow, hard, with a lot of tears, and blood put into it. When I graduated Summa Cum Laude, I found myself a day job and spent many late nights designing book covers and swag to keep my dream alive. I used my business degree to keep the bookkeeping and admin stuff of the business clean and transparent. I kept designing as much as I could, and designing, and designing, and designing… 

 

Today, we have my partner/amazing sister, Nada, handling the editorial part of the business. This includes interiors, formatting, text to go on ads, and our locally published books. She helps grow the company in that sense, and hopefully beyond that. So she too can make her editorial dreams come true, using Qamber Designs and Media.

We have our business support manager, Jennifer Silverwood. She is an amazing friend and bestie who’s been there almost since the beginning. She handles a lot of the admin stuff, the blog content, and our side projects. This includes being the project manager at Qamber Kids, to help market that side of the business.

Together with our animators, interns, and our corporate liaisons, we strive to build more and more of the business to serve you better. Each year we evaluate our processes, renew them, and make sure they’re even better than they were before. Each year we learn, test and find new services to offer you. Because Graphics Design has too many aspects to it. And we hope soon you’ll have all you need under one roof.

The best part is. We each love what we do. And it my job helps fight anxieties, so win-win ya’ll!

Signing off,

NAJLA QAMBER

Founder & Creative Director

With almost 10 years of experience, Naj is determined to give you the best she can. She lives by her philosophy that ‘Determination is Greatness’.

You can follow Najla on Twitter & Facebook

2 Comments


    • Andrew T. Kuligowski
      Reply Cancel Reply
    • August 1, 2018

    I'm so glad that you used your childhood traumas as a springboard to a beautiful adulthood, instead of as an anchor as so many are tempted to do!!

    • Thank you so much, Andrew! It started out as an anchor but I didn't want it to always be like that. I hope more kids take after what I've done instead of going destructive.

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