Represent a “slice of life” through illustrations

A woman draping a headscarf, holding a cup of nun-chai and listening to the radio while resting near the window – the illustration depicts the scene of a Kashmiri household and the mood of an illustrator.

Depicting stories through comics and doodles, Ghazal Qadri is a Kashmiri illustrator whose vibrant and intricate illustrations have captured the attention of many.

From everyday drama to unexpected events, she not only entertains but also enlightens with her creative content.

Under the name of Alif, she manages her Instagram page and her feed welcomes you to Kashmiri culture and language. She celebrates everyday life, brings issues and situations to light through her artistic work in a fun way.

Getting more creative with each stroke, his job is to place his doodles in front of a real background, which makes him come alive.

Ghazal has depicted what she calls “slices of life” through illustrations, comics, doodles and stickers. On the suggestions of her supporters, she recently launched her online store selling her merchandise with a Kashmiri touch. The collection includes enamel pins, coffee mugs, postcards, bookmarks and the Kashmiri stickers on sale.

Offering a variety of motley products with catchy Kashmiri phrases like Gul Kaak Bookmark, Shoede Bookmark, Pyaale Toath, Jahan Deed Postcard etc., her collection is what anyone would find adorable.

Ghazal was interested in cartoons from his school days. Due to the limited career options available to art lovers in Kashmir, she, with the baggage of passion, had to move abroad to pursue her education.

After completing her secondary education in Kashmir, she moved to Jaipur to pursue her higher secondary education. In 2013, she joined Bachelor of Design in Fashion and Lifestyle Accessories Design from NIFT, Hyderabad and then worked in a design studio as an illustrator for a few years. In 2020, she graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a master’s degree in illustration. Since then, she has worked as a freelance illustrator represented by Pippins Properties Limited, a New York-based literary agency.

“The agency looks after my interests by promoting my portfolio of illustration work for comics, graphic novels and children’s picture books to potential clients around the world,” a- she declared.

She is already working on a picture book project at the request of the literary agency with a leading publisher and also independently manages her creative work including picture books, graphic novels, book illustrations , editorial illustrations, greeting cards, logos and more.

Some of the projects she has completed include illustration work for Aditi Rao’s Noon chai and a story – a picture book published by Tulika Publications, India, Allie the Albino Squirrel by Emily McCoy published by Atmosphere USA publishers and mascot design for Khyber Milk. .

She also produced playful characters and illustrations for the children’s book OkusBokus by writer-blogger Onaiza Drabu. The book introduces the lifestyle and culture of Kashmir to children through English alphabets.

Speaking about the book, she said, “I was seduced by the initiative to promote Kashmiri culture and language; the first of its kind. I was delighted to illustrate the book. Okus Bokus was my first illustrated picture book.

In the same year, she had the chance to take part in the collaborative illustration work for the calendar which celebrated the successful, but forgotten, women of Kashmir. The calendar was a great success and received wide appreciation.

For WhatsApp, one of the most popular social networking apps, Ghazal has also designed stickers with typical vernacular words and phrases.

The stickers/emojis are made up of Kashmiri characters wearing traditional outfits with catchy sayings and expressions.

“Whatsapp has launched sticker sending/sharing features on phones. It was a God sent opportunity. I adapted Kashmiri phrases to my artwork in png/jpg format. Emojis are currently used by over 2,00,000 users. It’s really overwhelming. I never thought something like this would happen,” she said.

She also works as an illustrator for Champak magazine and an online portal called Go Comics. She will also work with UNICEF on a series of comics on women’s education in Kashmir, in addition to a story with Pratham’s books on the spring season in Kashmir.

A picture book project she did with Funkaar International will also be released soon.She is currently working on two more picture books with two different US publishers and an Indian publisher.

“I’m really excited about the current projects. I am currently working on a children’s picture book which is my own story. I’m really excited because it’s all about Kashmir,” she said.

Currently, she is focused on building her brand in the form of her merchandise as well as collaborating with authors and writing her own stories for children’s books.

Drawing inspiration from everything and everyone she sees around, she tries to portray things that sometimes go unnoticed.

“My work mainly depicts my experiences in Kashmir in addition to other general observations in my life. I am happy that people like to engage with my simple slices of life,” she said.

Some of her favorite illustrators are Huda F, Gemma Corel, Alicia Souza, Mike Lowery, Priya Kurian, Oliver Jeffer, Jean Jullian and many more.

“I think people can identify with some of my works and that comforts them. I often get messages about how some of my works affect them emotionally,” she said.

While blessing the Instagram feed of users, nowadays for artists doodling has become a way to express their thoughts and creativity.

She said: “I think the mundane incidents depicted there strike a chord with social media users. Comics are engaging, funny, and engaging. Like I said before, I think people can relate to some of these works and it comforts them. »

However, she thinks the opportunities for artists in Kashmir are even less compared to other parts of the world.

“The fraternity of Kashmiri artists has become huge and very talented, growing day by day. Although the opportunities are lesser, artists these days have carved a niche for themselves to showcase their work. Social media undoubtedly plays a role key.

She believes that artists should be open to more collaborations and showcase their work online. “It would be the easiest and best solution for artists to get noticed and approached by different types of customers with opportunities,” she added.

Having the full support of her parents in choosing art as a career, she said, “I strongly believe that this is not possible without the constant support and encouragement of her family members or mentors.

She added that some children still face resentment from their parents for choosing art as a career.

When asked about her future plans, she said, “I’m not a planner, but I’m still very keen on illustrating and writing children’s books.”

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