We recently got an opportunity to interact with the extremely talented designer Nausheen Javed.
Q. Your art feels very poetic, tell us something about your journey as an artist? When did you start and how?
For me like any other child, drawing came as a secret passageway into our imaginations. Writing has always been an important part of our family where my grandfather was a writer and professor in Persian. It was also a tradition to exchange poems, as my maternal grandmother wrote in Urdu, my mother preferred the pure form of Hindi and I grew up with English. Languages have always fascinated me. But then, there are times where words are limited, and images take over. During the finals in my Graduation [Fine arts] when everyone was trying to meet the deadlines and finish all the assignments, I instead wrote a few poems and drew for them. My College Dean appreciated them a lot. But I was still unaware of the things I could do combining them together. During NID when we were asked to register our Animation Film ideas with a script, I chose to pick up a poem of mine, I wrote a few months before, since it was still running in my head. It was a completely new process for me where even to animate was a new idea. But the basics remained- combining word and image. I was in love with this method I was discovering. The tiny graphics-bases zines were a pure accident which happened in Germany. It’s really difficult as an outsider to find a suitable house here. I found mostly temporary places and was moving all the time. I had to go to several “WG castings”, meet my potential landlords/ roommates and display my “likeability” in a new language which I recently began to learn. So, in the middle of one frustrating night, I decided to write a public email and make posters advertising ‘myself’. The zine had lines about how amazing I can be as a roommate, but also not if that’s not desired!! I used from my library of drawings I make as ‘Gojagaaji’ and it was done! The zine became a hit. Though I still didn’t find a place, I did find an expression.
Q. Quite an intriguing account, we looked at your Zines and were inspired to use them as a medium. Can you tell us more about your inspirations and what all graphic novels or illustrators/authors you follow?
I am a big consumer of visuals. I was awestruck when the first time I laid my hands on Alan Fletcher’s ‘Beware! wet paint’. I couldn’t get enough of him. Soon after I found the other books from him. Finally, I bought the ‘Beware! Wet paint’ and I love to fall asleep flipping through it. His simplicity, minimalism, and abstraction of forms blew me away. I like graphics, which don’t try to directly feed me and require me to converse with it. As a child, I loved reading the monthly subscriptions of ‘Chacha Chaudhary’ or ‘Pinki’, Laurel& hardy,and Dennis the menace. Recently I have become a fan of Guy Delisle. I like how he perceives a new land altogether and pens down his thoughts.
Q. When juxtaposed to the global market, what do you think about the market for such graphic-based literature in India? Is it growing?
Lately, the scenario in India is growing much more in comics and graphics. More people are coming up with different things, which previously may not have passed. I like the fact that people irrespective of whether they studied in this field are also not inhibited of trying this medium and see it as sharing perspectives. I think it’s not so hard on making the “right drawings” anymore. I feel today we are constantly surrounded by visuals. Be it the drastically changing fashion on streets, magazines, the constant feeds on social media, easier access to films and some brilliantly done series, newer forms of advertising trying to captivate our attention… We are always consuming visuals.
I would say it’s growing. With several festivals offering a showcase of films, zines, and comics, several new graphics-oriented merchandise markets. I think you cannot separate any categories, they all influence each other and us.
Q. Even before the world-war II comics were reflective of socio-political issues, do you think it is being replicated in India too?
Yes for sure. When did we previously see comics, zines, posters about different sexual orientations, about women, menstruation, body image, about open relationships and about everything we agree, disagree and would like to see.
Q. Do you think graphic novels and comic books are as useful as conventional literature to question the society or to comment on it?
The lightheartedness and whimsical nature of this medium help dilute and disguise sincere blatant feelings and make it more approachable or even personal to several audiences. I love what Grassroot comics does, of just getting everyone to speak out. I see it as an easier way to pour down one’s deepest worries and anxieties and you end up discovering that there are several others like you. I think that’s what art does, we are secretly incepting and finding the very intricacies of humanity and bringing them out on the table.