I was born in 1984 in Hunza, the Northern Areas of Pakistan. My family moved to Rawalpindi, where I grew up in a close-knitted ethnically diverse community.
I did my bachelor’s in communication design (2008) from National College of Arts, Lahore. I worked at various design agencies for 8 years. I’m currently based in Lahore and working as an independent graphic designer and illustrator.
I’ve always carried a sketchbook filled with portraits and doodles. I started creating digital portraits in 2017. It started out as self-tasking with the purpose to stay organized which then turned into freelance work.
My biggest source of inspiration in portraits has always been Saeed Akhtar, a legendary traditional artist of Pakistani art world. The beautiful strong women in his paintings have inspired me since childhood. Before I started making illustrations, I didn’t have time to draw or paint because of my work routine. Once I got out of the 9-to-5 cycle, I started making portraits again but this time on a tablet. I liked the combination of desi women portraits and pop art style, so I kept practicing until I developed my own style.
About the colors, I love bright contrasting color palettes. Even though I’m not afraid of experimenting with bold colors, I make sure that the colors are tied together by color-blocking or with the use of negative space.
I don’t think it has changed much. I do try and mix Photoshop tools with vector or draw on iPad using ProCreate but the end result is almost always the same which I’m comfortable with.
I was commissioned by Google along with 23 other artists from around the world for International Women’s Day in 2019. We were assigned different keywords to symbolize woman and each of us had to come up with one sticker for Gboard. The whole process from beginning to the end was very well organized which is something that I really admire. Also, my little sticker got a lot of appreciation from the team which made it even more special.
Cosmos, moons and portraits. I also draw and paint on canvas whenever I need a break from digital art.
I mostly use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. I work with lots of reference photos. For collaborations and commissioned work, it usually starts with a rough sketch. When I don’t do sketches, I make rough collages in photoshop that help me get started. Most of my personal work is inspired by fashion photography references.
While it’s important to have a personalized workspace, I think change is also necessary to keep the flow going. I had been working in the same spot for quite some time so last year I rearranged everything around me in order to break the monotony. These days, it’s just me with my laptop and I can sit and work anywhere I want. It’s something very different than what I’m used to, but my goal is to be able to work freely without needing to be in a specific seat.
My website is under construction. I haven’t designed any courses yet, but I’m planning on making easy tutorials for beginners soon that will be uploaded on my website and YouTube.