“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” ―  Pablo Picasso.

Art is such a contrivance that touches the soul of an individual. Every piece of painting I’ve come across has made me feel a particular emotion. And I wonder, what inspired the artist to paint such a picture? Was it love? Was it anger? Was it guilt? Or was it pain? Amidst the wandering thoughts about the artist and the painting he or she has made, I fall in love with the painter of the painting. And just like that, I fell in love with the visually stimulating pictures of the immensely talented Gulbeen Gulraiz.

I had the privilege of interviewing her; we spoke on the underrepresentation of brown artists in the mainstream media and the lack of awareness related to art amongst the South-Asian community. Gulbeen Gulraiz is a Lahore-based student pursuing her bachelor’s degree in fashion marketing and merchandising from PIFD, Pakistan. She can be found on Instagram at @gulbeengulraiz.

1. Tell us about your journey in the field of art? What obstacles did you have to face in your path towards creativity? Did you ever think that you’d gain such a large number of following on social media?

Ans. Ahhh my journeyyy! Well, it isn’t much of a journey yet. It’s just a pathway that I am on, and the journey is yet to begin; however, I started focusing on having my own digital visualization around a year ago or so, and it has just gotten better with time, and the greatest pleasure of arts is not the followers you have but the process that you go through while making art, THAT IS what’s precious about arts. 

And if you ask me what obstacles I faced, well, there are many, but I never thought of them as obstacles. Instead, just little bumps that shake you for some time make you even stronger and prepared for the next.

2. At what age did you start illustrating? What inspired you to create your very first piece of art?

Ans. I started making illustrations like a year ago, while I have been learning and practicing Photoshop for three years now, but jumping into the field of visual communication and digital illustration was like a year ago, and what inspired me or pushed me towards it was my aim of conducting my own solo exhibition so I have been developing my portfolio and making art pieces for that matter and that has been my major push factor for getting into the field of visual communication which evokes all senses in a human.

3. Do you believe there is a scope in the field of art for our generation’s youth? 

Ans. Oh man, there is definitely so much scope in this field for the younger generation, but the market is getting clustered already, and if you want to pursue this, then I’d say do it for the right reasons and not just because you want to be a part of the crowd.  

4. Art has lost its essence in the modern world. We do not have many female artists in South-Asia. And the brown artists of our community do not get the mainstream media attention that they rightly deserve. What is your opinion on that?

Ans.  The biggest problem in South-Asia is that people, mainly men, cannot see a woman succeed; they feel challenged and threatened. I have been a victim of it myself, and the biggest and most common allegation that we associate with artists is that they plagiarize or copy work when it’s not the truth. I am not saying that that isn’t happening. Still, we become another kitten in the sack due to some misconceptions and lack of knowledge and awareness. That’s depressing, especially when it comes to young women doing great and becoming successful. Yes, we do not get mainstream media attention because we focus on the wrong things; we as a nation have a very pessimistic approach that has been a significant setback from getting mainstream media attention.

5. Why do you add ghazals to the illustrations you create? Do you think music and art are closely related to each other?

Ans. Ghazals are a huge part of my being; I find peace and meaning in them. I have grown up in a very desi typical Lahori family, and everybody plays their music at night and has tea while relaxing with it. Music is really closely related to art. I think it DERIVES art. All kinds of arts are very closely associated with each other. They can be incorporated really well; I have done theatrical animations and simple animations, so yes, all kinds of art can be beautifully integrated together and drive the other form. 

6. If you could meet your younger self right now, what advice would you give her?

Ans. Go easy on yourself, tiger! Life happens at the right time.

7. What is your opinion on modern abstractions? 

Ans. Art is evolving with each day, and I think modern abstractions are an evolution of arts that is not just expressive but simple and understandable at the same time, and I think that is the easiest form to start with.

8. What is the contrivance that hinders your creativity? Do you reflect on your personality in the art you create?

Ans. Well, creativity is a difficult thing, not everyone is creative at all times, and yes, you need a proper mindset to undergo the procedure of making an art piece. Sometimes you’re not just in the right energy, but as soon as the idea or the motivation kicks in, you’re unstoppable. The contrivance that hinders my creativity is usually my own mind; sometimes, it is just not in the right place.

9. Who do you create art for? The ones who are broken by love or those who are in love with the idea of life? The ones who are lost in the path of life or for those who are wandering off in search of a home? Do you target a specific audience, or do you create what your heart tells you to?

Ans. Ohhh, I make art for the ones who are in love with the idea of life, but yes, since there’s no life without a loss or a crack in the soul, my art is for them too, but I wouldn’t say it’s specifically only for such people. It is for anyone who connects with it because it’s from my heart to yours. But the depth can only be found by the ones who look at life precisely.

10. How do you establish the structure of a piece you’d want to create? How do you find the right approach to colors? When do you know that a piece is truly ready to be showcased to your audience? 

Ans. Well, for me, it all happens in the flow, I think about a scene and the feeling I want to create, and then I just sit and start creating, and whatever happens, happens, there’s no right or wrong way. It’s just what comes from the heart, but I take aesthetics to be a significant part of my pieces. I try to make my pieces look aesthetic and warming for the audience.

11. Many youngsters in South-Asia are afraid of pursuing a career in the arts. They are fearful of not succeeding, and they are afraid of not being good enough. What is your opinion on that? 

Ans. Well, I think if a person really wants to do arts, there’s no stopping them. To do arts, you need to be fearless and experimental with a free soul. If you don’t have that, you’ll always be afraid and doubtful. First, let yourself sink into the work you want to do and then see the magic happening.

12. What advice would you like to give to an aspiring artist struggling to get his work showcased or sold?

Ans. Don’t think about the whatnots and think about the possibilities and just do it with faith and gratitude, and you shall see your path light up with a thousand candles.

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