“Sending love and prayers from Pakistan.”
Kinza is a young self-taught artist based in Karachi. Holding a business degree, she works for a Japanese project development/regulatory firm but regularly practices art and explains her art style as “Stylized Illustrations”. Kinza misses the most ordinary things like the ability to take an elevator to the food court and get herself a sugar fix at work.
Read our very interesting interview with this young artist.
Thank you for joining us for this interview.
Thank you for reaching out to me!
Tell us about your education.
I’m a business graduate from Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi. Since graduating in 2017, I have been working in project development/regulatory affairs at a Japanese firm.
What got you interested in arts?
I’ve been an art hobbyist for as long as I remember. Growing up, I was the girl who wrote stories and illustrated them, or the other way round. Visuals always fascinated me. Whether it was a newspaper or a story book my eyes were always drawn towards the artwork rather than the reading material.
Are you a self-taught artist or did you take a formal training?
I am a self-taught artist. I did not go to Art School for formal training but I took Art as a subject during my CIEs which gave me basic technical skills.
What is your form of art best described as?
What are your favourite materials to use?
Currently, watercolour. There was a time when I was into graphite and soft pencils but with the quarantine situation, I have had more time in hand to hone my watercolour skills. I also like to keep trying other media and even digital for a change.
How would you best describe your style of art
My work incorporates unruly outlines, stylized forms and deliberate bleeding of paint – almost as an ode to the storybook illustrations I grew up being fascinated by.
What is the message that you like to convey through your art?
Recently, I have been working on a series of paintings on Karachi. My hometown is a controversial city to say the least. But I want to document what it looked and felt like to me while growing up, and along the way if manages to connect with my audience, that’s just a bonus. I mean, I’m literally showing old buildings and apartment complexes in this series. There are webs of overhead cables, outdoor AC units and litter strewn across congested lanes, but it’s still something to look at. It’s ordinary, but not really. It’s complicated and comforting at the same time, just like home is.
Where do you take the inspiration for your work?
I want to say people and places but it’s actually plants and place. I absolutely adore plant paintings and consider it to be my comfort zone. Lately I’ve been drawing inspiration from cities and towns I’ve seen and captured as photographs to paint. In that way, all of my paintings are very personal to me and I feel glad to know people still happen to find them relatable.
What is your process of completing a piece from start to finish?
It depends. Sometimes I plan a piece, look for multiple references and draw a few days before painting. Other times I just pick up my sketchbook and get to it. The good thing about watercolour is that it is a quick medium to work with. I can be done with a painting within 20 minutes or take my time and do bit by bit over a couple of days.
How has your professional life been affected by the pandemic, the ongoing issues with coronavirus?
I am working from home since March and sometimes being stuck at home takes a toll on my mental health but I recognize my privilege in being able to work remotely. A lot of people have suffered grave professional losses so I consider myself fortunate to be employed and have a stable source of income in these uncertain times. In fact, with the extra free hours available I have been able to discover new avenues of income through art.
What’s it like where you are?
It’s not ideal. At the time of this interview there is a smart lockdown implemented in Karachi. Some areas are under strict lockdown with limited mobility. With the surge in Covid-19 cases in the country, it is best to take individual responsibility of maintaining SOPs which is what I am doing.
What does an average day look like for you under lockdown?
On weekdays, I have work so I wake up pretty early, hydrate myself and my plants first thing in the morning. There is a daily video call with my geographically displaced team and multiple audio calls are a norm since we cannot meet in person or hold external meetings. Between lunch break and dull hours, I squeeze time out to do a quick sketch. Mostly, I paint after work in the evenings and photograph it the next morning for my Instagram. A lot of time is spent on food delivery apps and binging The Office.
How are you dealing with this sudden change in lifestyle?
At the beginning I was fine, it gave me an extra hour of sleep and saved from a long commute to work. I like being home and am notoriously known among friends as the person who cancels on plans at the last minute. But it’s been really long now and I’m missing the most ordinary things like the ability to take an elevator to the food court and get myself a sugar fix at work.
What are the important lessons you have learned during this time?
I’ve learnt that it’s okay to accept that everyone is struggling and allowed to cope in their own way. Not everyone is going to be able to come out of the lockdown period with new hobbies and academic certifications or a book deal. And it’s completely okay.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your life and/or career?
I have spent the last three years only hoping to be able to paint as much as I am doing right now. I finally have my Karachi series, something I have wanted to do since a long time. People have been really appreciative and interested in it so I plan to get prints made for commercial use. My head is constantly thinking of ideas for Krapbook, but I check myself and not put too much pressure because the ultimate goal is to enjoy the process which I am doing right now.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing?
That the passage of time can feel very fast and feel very slow simultaneously.
Did you develop any new interest or hobby or learned a new skill during this time?
I got house plants for my room, I think it was long due given my obsession with painting them. Also tried a bit of cooking.
What income-producing work have you lost due to the pandemic?
Fortunately, none. Really thankful for it and hope it remains the same.
What’s your favourite music/songs for the moment?
Ishq by Ali Sethi, I guess.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation?
Take it one day at a time. Stay informed but skip through news you think will bring down your spirit.
What 3 things could you not live without under lockdown?
My phone, art supplies and a stable internet connection.
What are you missing most about the outside world?
Random people – watching random people go about their random business is like observing life in real time. At home my options are limited and I am bored of the same faces!
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over?
Getting in a car and going somewhere that isn’t a grocery store.
How do you think life will be after Covid-19?
A little more kind, I hope.
Finally, your message for us at CP magazine.
Thank you so much for reaching out to me. I have looked at last month’s feature of artists and felt highly overwhelmed with my inability to match their level of skill and expertise. Extremely humbled and delighted to know my work got noticed. I hope everyone reading this is trying their best to stay safe and positive during the pandemic. Sending love and prayers from Pakistan.