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Rahema Zaheer

Rahema Zaheer

Meet inter-disciplinary designer and artist from Lahore, Rahema Zaheer.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an inter-disciplinary designer and artist from Lahore, Pakistan. I graduated from National College of Art as a communication designer and I’ve been trying to learn new things on my own ever since. I think I’ve evolved quite a bit as an artist since I graduated. I was always interested in working across different forms of expression and I’ve often tried to mix these forms of expression, style and aesthetic to create things that look weird and new maybe. I do a bit of illustration, design, visual work for music, motion graphics and recently sound and I really really enjoy the cross-pollination of these disciplines, it keeps things exciting for me and keeps me wanting to learn more. I don’t think I create for an audience, I create for myself mostly – it is such an important form of self-care and self-reflection for me which is why I also don’t care if my art falls a neat, file-able category. I think everyone should be able to work with whatever aesthetic or form of expression that inspires them without having to be burdened by the constraints of your art having to look a certain way. Consistency is over-rated, in fact, I think it’s counter-productive for innovation and I really do believe that new things come out of the intersection of different disciplines. I really value the diversity with which I work.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

I’ve lived in Lahore for most of my life but I think I really grew as an artist when I moved to Saudi Arabia a few years ago. Not because the place provided me with opportunities to grow creatively (trust me, those didn’t exist) but because it provided me with exactly no opportunities I had to create them myself. The lack of stimulus really put in a kind of survival mode where creating prolifically was really a matter of self-preservation. It kept me sane. At one point I started creating so frequently that I created a Facebook page “Butterflies are cockroaches with wings” and starting dumping my daily musings on it. I would say the city I was living in (Riyadh) which is the most conservative in Saudi Arabia kind of forced me to evolve in the way I did. Survival brings out parts of you that you really didn’t know existed.

 

Consistency is over-rated, in fact, I think it’s counter-productive for innovation and I really do believe that new things come out of the intersection of different disciplines. I really value the diversity with which I work.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Best thing about Lahore: People know me

Worst thing about Lahore: People know me

Best thing about Riyadh: No one knew me.

Worst thing about Riyadh: No one knew me

Riyad: No one knew that I was a creative in Riyadh. I reached out to some galleries they were not exactly friendly, so it really forced me to look at alternative ways of reaching out to people and collaborating. I got to collaborate with artists from around the globe because of the physical disconnect with a creative community I took to the internet to collaborate and share my work.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Riyadh:

Meditator

Fighter

Survivor

 

How did you start your career in art?

My partner bought me a graphics tablet and I got drawing.

 

My partner bought me a graphics tablet and I got drawing.

 

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

My partner was extremely supportive, always has been. My friends thought my work was cool, that was nice. My parents still don’t know what I do though.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

I want to be a bigger part of the audio-visual game, It’s something that I am still quite new to, but it inspires me so much. Music is something I love and feel and to be able to combine visuals and sound is just where my heart’s at. It’s where I want to be.

 

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Refik Anadol

 

How would you describe the women around you?

Fighters. So determined to get what they want from life. My best friend is such a unique, bad-ass, cool woman.

 

Fighters.

 

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

There weren’t that many when I was growing up, to be honest. My earliest memory of a local female artist is Lala Rukh, who was our school photographer. I think I must have been in grade 2. It was the first time I’d seen a female photographer. My 2nd grade brain found that quite interesting. I don’t think my childhood was brimming with inspiration when it came to female creatives, I didn’t even know I was going to be one until very late in my life.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

I’m trying to get my foot inside the audio-visual industry. The problem with that is that the industry isn’t that big in Pakistan. My friends have been very supportive in Pakistan but globally this field is dominated by men because of its kind-of technical nature.

 

Figure out where you want to go.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Figure out where you want to go. Figure out what you need to know to get there and don’t wait on anyone to teach you. The most important thing I’ve learnt it to teach myself. Once you start doing that, no one can stop you. Also, always dream. Keep your eyes on the bright shiny star. It’s not important to get there, but if you dream big, you try harder and you get somewhere still.

 

 

Photos courtesy of Rahema Zaheer Alam.

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