Artwork by Shezil Malik
Female Illustrators across the globe are having a major Instagram moment and we’re proud to note that desi girls are a BIG part of this trend. By incisively depicting subjects close to every South Asian girl’s heart, from skin colour complexes to what “izzat” represents, these women are opening avenues for important discourse.
And the world is taking notice!
Recently Pakistani illustrator Shehzil Malik was featured on CNN Style! Samya Arif’s colourful sci-fi inspired designs were in a Cold Play video and Oh Areeba – a home-grown Pakistani illustrator – was celebrated in Instagram’s story last year!
Since creating awareness is the first step towards taking action, we love these 10 cool Illustrators for doing what they do!
You can call Fatemah Baig a colour-happy, minimalist. Her speciality is portraits and figures, mostly of women of all colours and sizes. In an interview when asked what she loves about her work, she said, “It’s the entire process, but I love choosing the colour palette. There are so many colour combinations to play with, which also makes it a little hard, but it is the most exciting part for me.”
Why Follow? Because she celebrates every woman and the colours she uses are sure to put you in a great mood.
This talented twin from Thatta proves that “talent knows no boundaries”. She became an Instagram star sans any formal training and we have a hunch her success is going to be directly proportional to her ever-rising love for Zayn Malik.
Why follow? Because her obsession for ghararas matches our own!
An American born desi, Sarin found it “hard to really connect with her culture”, so she connects with it through her art. Don’t be surprised when you fall in love with her predominantly ‘brown girl’ illustrations.
Why follow? She made an entire illustration to discourage people from calling her aunty. What’s not to love about that?
We’re sure you know about Malik and her feminist capsule collection for Generation, but do you know that that is just one of the feathers in her cap? She recently collaborated with Ethletic shoes, which are designed in Berlin and manufactured sustainably in Sialkot Pakistan, and has hinted towards yet another cool collaboration unveiling this month!
She was also featured on platforms such as DW and CNN. No biggie.
Inspiration can come from anywhere and I often find it outdoors. I’m in my zone between flowers, drawing concepts that are later digitally brought to life when I’m cocooned by myself. Nature drives me to create art… it’s the yin to my yang, the #FantaToMyOyeHoye 🌿🌸💡That’s what inspires me, what makes you create? #sponsored #illustration
Why follow? Because according to her, “nature drives me to create art… it’s the yin to my yang, the #FantaToMyOyeHoye!”
The Desi Martha Stewart
She calls herself the Desi Martha Stewart and her brutally honest illustrations depict the “real life” of South Asian women.
While sharing one of her illustrations, she says what all of us occasionally wonder:
“Imagine if the next morning, young women stood up and said, “I love the colour of my skin” and “I don’t need to have lighter skin to be beautiful.” A billion dollar industry in Asia would be brought to its knees and cease to exist, becoming an ugly memory of the past”.
Why follow? She’ll make you laugh out loud!
Babbu The Painter
The illustrations and paintings of this Toronto-based artist may look fun but they highlight some serious issues faced by desi women world over. From getting ogled at to being career-shamed, we’ve faced it all and Babbu The Painter has illustrated or painted it all!
Why follow? Because she’s SO on point!
An Indian Illustrator and Graphic Designer highlighting issues like trans rights, sexuality, and racial discrimination!
Why follow? She did illustrations for a campaign called 36 Days For Feminist Type for the platform @36daysoftype in February last year and they’re worth exploring!
Illustrator, designer, and self-proclaimed “anomalous trekker”, Samya Arif shot to fame after Chris Martin was casually seen lounging in a taxi designed by HER in Cold Play’s music video, Hymn For The Weekend!
Yes, she revamped a normal taxi into a kaleidoscope of colour during the Mumbai based programme, Taxi Fabric, and hasn’t looked back.
Why follow? Her psychedelic art will have you drooling AND you’ll definitely relate with her ‘Women of My Land’ project.
One of her most recent works, Izzat, is where she asks people to, “Take their honour out of their vaginas!!! And to place it where it belongs: in our minds, and in our character!” The simple illustration strikes a chord with any woman who has ever felt marginalised because of her gender.
Why follow? Why shouldn’t you follow anyone who is questioning obsolete gender norms with art? Also, her Instagram account is a window into her super cool fashion choices and NY art student life!
This 18 year old is heavily invested in current affairs and uses women of all colour in her art. We love that she believes that “art can be used as a tool for activism and awareness and hence bring about subsequent positive change in society”.
Why follow? Because she recently raised an important issue along with her fellow artist, Tara Anand , when she said, “Not all brown girls look like what you think they look like. Not all brown girls are brown, firstly”.