Rising Stars: Up-close and Personal with Mehrooz Waseem
Art Culture in Pakistan is not something new or premature. Pakistani art has its own feel and beauty which dates back to more than 5000 years to the period of Indus Valley Civilization. With time painting in Pakistan has made considerable progress in terms of popular artistic expression accepted and appreciated globally. Pakistani artists attempted to present themselves by taking influence from European artists but soon they retreated back to their own traditional and cultural ideas which allowed them global recognition.
Today, art has taken a digital form. The world progressed towards digital art and started using technology to make paintings and drawings. Pakistan was cornered with the evolution of digital art but soon young Pakistani Digital Artists bounced back in order to impress the world with their digital art skills. Mehrooz Waseem is one of them. A young passionate and determined lady producing quality art work that demands global appreciation and is also endeavoring to help Pakistan win back the glory it once possessed, which seems to be fading into nonexistence.
Mehrooz received a scholarship and pursued her bachelors in development studies. Soon after she completed her diploma in Fashion Design to assist her sister in her clothing line venture. It is justified to deem Mehrooz “Jack of All Trades” considering the set of qualities she possesses under her belt. Mehrooz enrolled into an MPhil program in Development Studies. Yet, one thing that remained true to her throughout her journey was her love for art. She always wanted to share her hidden art talent with the world which ultimately led her to place a great deal of importance on digital art as a serious career.
She is now studying and working for a well-known advertisement-agency and along with her own digital art business L’art de Mehrooz. She was self-motivated throughout this journey by always striving for the best in whatever she did remaining focused on her goals. Determination and belief in one’s own self is the key to success. Mehrooz today is growing rapidly and she seems to have a promising future given her recent achievements and successes.
Let’s read further as Mirza Omer our HTV correspondent interviews her.
(Mirza Omer): Digital art is something very uncommon in Pakistan. How did you end up developing interest in this field?
(Mehrooz Waseem): My interest in digital art dates back to when I was 7 or 8 years old, that’s when I began to paint digitally with a mouse. Last year I bought the proper tools and began making digital paintings on commission. Since I have been painting from a very early age I have experience of working with every medium – paper, canvas, wall murals and so on, yet I enjoy drawing on a digital canvas the most and consider it as my forte. There are a handful of digital artists in Pakistan, and the fact that it is so rare and cutting-edge makes it more interesting than other fields in the art world.
(MO): Mehrooz Waseem is a beautiful lady, in her looks and her nature. Why have you opted for being a digital artist, instead of being a model or a TV actress? Is it a passion?
(MW): Thank you! You are very kind. I have made a few TV appearances and done a few modelling projects as well. I’ve appeared on a couple of talk-shows as a guest speaker, where I further got offers to work with PTV and ATV. I was part of a youth talk show on ATV which unfortunately never went on air due to technical issues. I’ve also modelled for new and upcoming fashion designers within Islamabad. Yet, I chose to become a digital artist because it is something that comes naturally to me. I belong to a family of artists, and have grown up with a lot of artistic and technological influence around me.
(MO): Your style is so distinctive and it is obvious that you are very skillful with digital painting. How long have you been working on all of this? Are you self-taught in digital art or did you acquire formal education for your career as a digital artist?
(MW): The first ever sketch I remember making was that of our pet parrot when I was 5 years old. My mother liked it so much that she hung it on our living room wall. I remember being quite happy with discovering my artistic talent at an early age.
I was introduced to digital painting in the early 90’s. I had a Compaq computer back then and I worked on MS Paint and Crayola Art Studio. In 2007 while I was doing my Bachelors, I started making graffiti’s on Facebook which earned me a lot of praise from those who didn’t know about my hidden talent. So in early 2014 I created my own Art Page ‘L’art de Mehrooz’ on Facebook where I regularly upload my work and get in touch with clients.
I am self-taught, as I never went to art school. In fact I’ve acquired an M.Phil in Development Studies, a field that is entirely unrelated to the Fine Arts. However my mother is a fine-artist herself, so she has taught me about the things I need to know, although she is a traditional oil-painter.
(MO): What software do you use for making your master pieces?
(MW): I use Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom Bamboo graphic tablet.
(MO): Do you ever go through down times when you are not happy with your own work or skills?
(MW): When I’m not feeling satisfied I continue working on the painting until I have achieved the desired results.
(MO): Do you ever face “creative blocks?” How do you deal with them?
(MW): I have not faced any creative blocks as yet, but that is probably because I have not drifted into the conceptual art realm as yet.
(MO): What has been your favorite project to work on to date? Can you share its story and work experience?
(MW): I really enjoyed working on the portrait of Sharbat Gula, the Afghan girl who appeared on the cover of National Geographic Magazine. She has a remarkable face and captivating eyes. It took me almost a week to finish painting her, because the photo is quite perfect, and the painting had to live up to its original brilliance. Since I haven’t gotten a chance to work on more conceptual art, I would say that my favourite project is yet to come.
(MO): Being an artist isnt easy. You have to feel what your client demands from you. You have to enter in to his/her soul to meet their expectations. How do you manage to keep them happy?
(MW): True. Thankfully, thus far, all my clients have been more than happy with my work. I try to keep myself in tune with client expectations. I do this by giving them choices and explaining to them the procedure and how the final painting would be based on their preferences.
(MO): Which resources do you turn to for inspiration?
(MW): I draw inspiration from life. The seemingly ordinary things in life can also be extraordinary when viewed from a certain perspective. If we talk about fine-artists then I seek inspiration from Leonardo Da Vinci, Van Gogh, Manet, Picasso and A. R. Chughtai.
(MO): Do you think the rise of digital culture will lead to more works of this nature?
(MW): Yeah, certainly. There is a lot that an artist can do on the digital canvas as it provides you with an infinite range of tools and techniques to work with, while overcoming some of the cons of traditional painting mediums.
(MO): In your opinion, how is digital art/photography currently impacting the contemporary design world? What about in the next 5-10 years?
(MW): Majorly. Since the advent of social media, businesses are turning towards digital marketing which has led to a greater demand for digital artists in the corporate world whereas self-employed artists and photographers now have an online platform to showcase their work to an international audience. In the next 5-10 years it will be more commonplace than it is today.
(MO): Can you explain to your followers how you work step by step right after receiving a project?
(MW): If I’m making a commissioned portrait for a client, I would ask them to send me a few of their photographs. I would select the best one. Then keeping that photo side by side with my Photoshop canvas I would draw it from scratch using a simple round brush tool. The time it takes to complete the painting depends on the complexity of the photo, it can take from a few hours to days or a whole week. Once the painting is complete in its digital format it is sent forward for printing and framing. The beauty of digital art is that you have a life-long softcopy and hardcopy of your painting. So in case the painting in its hard form gets damaged or lost, you can always retrieve it using the soft copy.
(MO): Can you share a bad experience in this career?
(MW): I have not had a bad experience per se. But since people here in Pakistan generally have misconceptions about this art form they tend to underestimate the hard work that goes into it. They do so by confusing digital art with photo manipulation. However, the overall response has been positive because people are always in awe of the end-product.
(MO): Do you think you want to explore more of this field?
(MW): Yes of course, it’s a field where you are constantly learning and exploring new things.
(MO): What are your future plans?
(MW): I plan to exhibit my work across the metropolitan cities of Pakistan, and eventually to other parts of the world too.
(MO): Do you have any other hobbies other from Digital painting?
(MW): I’m an avid music listener. I enjoy watching movies and TV series. I also like travelling, reading and photography.
(MO): Digital artists are often good photographers too. Are you?
(MW): Well I’m good at photography, but I wouldn’t call myself a photographer as I haven’t done it professionally. I have taken a lot of selfies if that counts.
(MO): From a business point of view do you think digital artists have a scope in Pakistan?
(MW): Yes, from the business point of view, digital artists do have a lot of scope in Pakistan. I have attended art exhibitions where I have seen the work of digital artists being promoted in local art galleries and they have received a positive response. I myself have made a number of online sales, and I also have an exhibition lined up for the future.
(MO): Do you think digital art is a talent and should be appreciated? Is it the future of what today we call traditional paintings?
(MW): Definitely. An artist, no matter what medium they use, puts their heart, mind and soul into their work. I cannot say for sure whether digital art will eventually replace traditional painting. However, traditional artists need to learn to work in this medium, because we are living in an increasingly digitalized world.
(MO): Can you put your entire journey in a nutshell, from being a school student to reaching a point where you run your own business, L’art de Mehrooz. How did you keep yourself motivated on being a digital artist?
(MW): After completing my O and A Levels, I did my Bachelor’s in Development Studies. I was a scholarship student throughout the program. Then I did a diploma in Fashion Designing to help my sister in her clothing line venture – Tzarina. After that I enrolled into an M. Phil program in the same field. It was during this time that I started focusing on my artistic side, because I felt the urge to create very strongly. L’art de Mehrooz was the perfect platform for me to unfold my artistic side. The things that kept me motivated during this journey were family support, the praise and admiration that I get from my fans and from seeing other inspiring artists around me.
(MO): What are 3 words that describe you?
(MW): Driven, loving, talented.
(MO): 3 most important people of your life?
(MW): My parents and my younger sister.
(MO): What is some hidden talent you possess?
(MW): I sing and write my own songs. I also play a little bit of guitar and piano.
(MO): A message for young digital artists?
(MW): Artists are people who have the power to influence society and individual thought processes, so use your abilities for a positive change!