Q1. Tooba, it’s wonderful to have you with us for this Q&A. Please tell us how you got started as an artist.
I was born to be an artist, that’s what I believe. Since my childhood, all I knew was how to paint. I have always had a vivid imagination, and even now find myself daydreaming or being mesmerized by lucid dreams. I started painting my imagination, it soon became my language when I fell short of words. For me it was a form of catharsis, it helped me cope with complex emotions since early on in life. During my school years, I was good at drawing science and geography diagrams. I would also score highest in art and craft projects. Everyone knew how passionate I was and still am for the arts.
Q2. Could you please inform us of the struggles you faced as an emerging artist?
My family was quite supportive of my passion for arts, they helped me a lot in honing my skills, I began taking formal oil painting classes when I was 11 years old, I opted for arts as my major subject during high school and later went on to complete my higher education in Fine Arts. Unfortunately, there is a lot of stigma in Pakistan around art as a career, and a lot of times parents or family members don’t allow their kids to go into arts as they perceive art as a hobby or not valuable enough to society as other professions. Artists are often marginalized by society. In my school years, I was forced to study subjects that I wasn’t interested in at all and my intelligence was tested through them. This took a toll on my self-image and mental health. There isn’t any awareness or proper guidance regarding pursuing arts as a full-time career in Pakistan.
Q3. Which artists have influenced your creativity the most?
I don’t think I follow any artist religiously; I cannot say whether they influenced me or not but there are few artists who I admire a lot: Farida Kahlo, Otto Dix, Alyssa Monks. Salman Toor, Shahzia Sikander, and David Hockney.
Q4. List your 5 favorite movies of all time.
1. Cleopatra (1960), 2. Dil Se (1998), 3. The Mirror (1965), 4. Lagaan (2001), and 5. The Conjuring (2013).
Q5. Any tips for aspiring artists?
Don’t pursue arts as a career unless you’re passionate about it. Not everyone will like your artwork, and that’s okay. Only you should be the judge of your own work. Don’t validate your work through the audience’s opinion. Just keep exploring new mediums and don’t stop believing in yourself.
Q6. List your 5 favorite books of all time.
My top 5 books are No God but God, After the Prophet, Memoirs of a Geisha, Forty Rules of Love, The Rise and the Fall of Ancient Egypt.
Q7. What is your preferred pastime(s)?
Q8. Tell us about your upcoming projects.
I will be taking part in a workshop organized by a local NGO for orphans, where I will teach kids how to paint for a living.