A Cartoonist's Attempt to Create Social Impact

November 18, 2021

Free Pen is making its mark in the creative startup’s world in Jordan. Its founder, a distinguished illustrator and cartoonist, strives to build social impact through comics. His unique cartoons, comics, and illustrations inspired by every-day settings, life events, and communities is what drives his visual and emotional storytelling.

Free Pen is one of several startups supported by the Heart of Amman Programme, generously funded by the Government of Japan.

Free Pen is a startup that uses art as a tool to drive community development and organization through art workshops and community engagement.

Free Pen was founded following a series of workshops that were provided to the Jordanian Women's Union, back in 2015. The workshops were delivered across Jordan’s governorates, with the aim of empowering women through art.

“I was able to experience the impact that art as a tool has on these women and the way they tackled societal pressure, violence, discrimination, and the psychosocial challenges that they face (through artistic expression).”

“Seeking to use art as a tool to create social impact, I established "Free Pen". I never thought I could combine my love and passion for art with social impact, until I kick started my journey with TEDx in Europe. Leaving the event, I was told by experts that my talent for giving speeches and delivering workshops and training sessions was a valuable asset. They drew my attention as to how I can utilize my talents for good causes through comic art. Afterwards, I was invited to attend a conference in Sweden where I participated in several workshops.”

This encouraged me to learn more about how art is an integral part of people, the street, and the community we live in. Cartoon art is very people centric, and I wanted to explore the connection between art and human rights.”

At first, A.Abdallat strived to begin his journey as a freelance artist to design and deliver workshops focusing on creating visual interest, promoting solidarity, and raising awareness. However, experts and professionals around Omar encouraged him to establish a company to collaborate with a more diverse set of entities through different projects.

He learned from the diverse characters and various techniques of drawing that he experimented with throughout my sketching process, that he want to create his own comic sketches tackling a diverse set of social issues.

The name “Free Pen”, was created to reflect the essence of the idea and initiative; “one cannot create impactful art without being free and unabashed to express one’s own opinion and ideas.” It is important to know how being free comes with great responsibility", A.Abdallat added.

“It was a beautiful journey for me as an illustrator and cartoonist,” A.Abdallat started.

“Free Pen was not only creating or designing a product or a service, but they are also designing community-oriented solutions. UNDP empowered me to use the cartoon illustrations I created to shed light on the future of freelancing and job creation locally. Moreover, the Heart of Amman Programme linked Free Pen as a startup, with a community of social entrepreneurs, each with a different mindset and challenges.”

Through the programme, he was able to get exposed to a wide range of social issues that drive his inner inspiration as a cartoonist and activist in Jordan. “We all shared one vision; to create impact despite the differences in our interests, virtues, and intentions,” he added.

Through the Heart of Amman Programme and the generous support of the Government of Japan and UNDP, he was empowered to create cartoons that reflect the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation locally and regionally.

Art, to him, is about effective storytelling, narration, leadership, community organization, community development, evolution, raising awareness, and creating impact. “Human rights and the arts go together as their expressive nature plays a pivotal role in creating a society and a well-connected ecosystem”, A.Abdallat emphasized.

A key takeaway he has learned is the importance of building and fostering communities throughout our journeys as entrepreneurs. Regardless of the product or service, creating a sense of family can support productivity and innovation.  Empathy and appreciation is key when interacting with many people from diverse backgrounds.

“The more human-centric our work is, the more productive and impactful we can be.”

Tapping into your inner-child is important as a social entrepreneur; one has to remain curious and constantly strive to learn more and expand their knowledge and horizons whilst growing a momentum that supports others surrounding us as well.

To learn more about Omar Al A.Abdallat's significant role as a cartoonist and activist, you can find his creative and impactful content shared on all social media platforms.

Website: http://qalamhurr.com

Social media: https://www.instagram.com/omarcartoonist/