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Teen’s graphic design business getting international attention

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Budding entrepreneur: Ahmya Peets with her digital self-portrait (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)

Bermudian teen Ahmya Peets has been commissioned to create an image for a champion Canadian race car driver.

Last year, the 17-year-old Bermuda Institute student started her own online graphic arts business Art by Ahmya, selling digital portraits done in a Japanese manga-inspired style.

Her latest client is Austin Riley, who last November became both the first Canadian and the first person with autism, to win the Overall North American Championship at the 2022 Blue Marble Radical Cup North America in California.

Miss Peets’ father Anthony Peets brought Mr Riley to Bermuda in 2016 to raise autism awareness. Miss Peets’ older brother Ahmani, is on the autism spectrum, and liked go-kart racing.

“We developed a nice relationship with Austin and his family, and brought him here four years ago,” Miss Peets said.

The families kept in touch. After Miss Peets’ business Instagram page went up last year, the racer’s father, Jason Riley, approached her about doing some work for them.

“When I received the commission request from Austin Riley, I felt excited that I could do something for a family friend and also nervous because this drawing was going to be put on a T-shirt for all the world to see,” she said.

But she got on with things and was pleased with how the drawing turned out.

Her digital drawing of Mr Riley and his race car will be featured on T-shirts that will be sold to support his racing career.

Riot of colours: Ahmya Peets’ drawing of champion racecar driver Austin Riley (Photograph supplied)

The commission was Miss Peets’ most challenging yet, because it included Mr Riley’s yellow and green vehicle.

“I usually stick to drawing people, so drawing the go-kart was a little bit more challenging, but I have done it,” she said.

While most of her profiles take two or three hours to create, this one took more than six hours.

“That was not all in one sitting, but over a couple of days,” she said.

Miss Peets has been drawing since childhood. By middle school her classmates were asking her to draw things for them.

“They would say something like draw me as a magician and my friend as a rabbit,” she said. “I charged a dollar.”

She now sells her work for $75 and up, depending on the size and scope of the project.

She started drawing digitally in 2017, and is entirely self-taught.

“It took me a little while to figure out my style,” she said.

One of her first customers was her brother, Ahmani who runs Ahmani’s Cookie Company. She did a drawing of him that he could use on his business cards and promotional materials.

“Ahmani has been a big inspiration for me,” she said. “He started his business while he was in school, and now I am in business and in high school.”

His advice to her is to keep doing what she loves.

Generating interest: Ahmya Peets’ digital drawing of her brother Ahmani Peets of Ahmani’s Cookie Company (Photograph supplied)

Nick Thomson at Scooter Mart was another client.

“Then my mother’s friend asked me to draw her because she saw my work,” Miss Peets said. “She had it put on a pillow. Then she had one done for her daughter and one for her husband.”

Now, Miss Peets works in partnership with local business Uniquely Yours, to have her work printed on pillows, T-shirts and even hats, upon customer request.

“I did work for a family that was expecting twins,” she said. “That was fun. They were printed on T-shirts that were worn by their cousins. It is pretty cool seeing my art in a physical form, not just digital.”

Miss Peets is in her last year at Bermuda Institute, and is deputy head girl. Next year she hopes to study business, art and illustration in university in the United States.

“It is only recently that I started to think that I could do art as a career,” she said.

She is most proud of her ability to capture the likeness of people.

“I want the people I draw to look at my art and say: ‘Oh, that is me!’”

Instagram: @artbyahmya

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Published January 11, 2023 at 7:58 am (Updated January 11, 2023 at 7:52 am)

Teen’s graphic design business getting international attention

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