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Pakistani artist Saher Sohail illustrations strike a chord with the diaspora

sohailTouted as the ‘Pakistani Martha Stewart’, Saher Sohail has been making waves on social media with her witty illustrations that are based on the experiences of a second-generation Pakistani woman living abroad. DW blogger Roma Rajpal-Weiß spoke to her about her art and the inspiration behind it.

Saher Sohail (@thepakistanimarthastewart) is a second-generation Pakistani who is currently based in the United States. She recently rose to fame with her illustrations that depict the real life problems of women who live abroad and grow up in conservative households. She goes by the name ‘The Pakistani Martha Stewart’ and her hilarious illustrations have struck a chord with thousands of followers who can totally relate to her art.


How did you come up with the username ‘The Pakistani Martha Stewart’?

The name “The Pakistani Martha Stewart” goes way back when I was in college. My sister and friends coined the term. I had a craze for throwing themed parties, decorating, baking, doing crafts and all sorts of DIY (Do it yourself) projects. In short, I was well known for being creative. In an inside joke they began to call me the pakistani version of the Martha Stewart, and it just has stuck with me since then as an alias.


What was it like growing up in two worlds?

It was a struggle going between two worlds, only due to the fact that you feel like you almost have two identities. One identity when I would go to school or work, deal with non-south asian friends, peers, co workers and etc. The other identity came up when I came home, or was around other south asians. As you grow older you try to find that perfect balance between these both identities, I feel like I have attained it.


Where did you draw inspiration for your illustrations?

My inspiration for my illustrations arises out of personal experiences in my own life and observing experiences firsthand in family and close friends. I wanted to take these experiences and be able to paint them in a different perspective. In which people, or more particularly young south Asian females can point at and be able to relate to the illustration with experiences from their own life. I take pride in knowing that I’m able to bring a smile to the face of another through a simple Illustration.


Tell us about your art.

I’ve always been drawing or doodling since I was young, something well known by family members and friends. I’m not a professional nor do I claim to be a professional artist. There are individuals who go through school and have honed their skills. My art is more for personal reasons, to express myself and for leisure. I find joy out of making creations whether it be a comic or a craft item.


When did you start publishing your work on social media?

I started publishing my work through Instagram, with the username @thepakistanimarthastewart, it wasn’t intended for such a huge audience but more for close friends. I was also publishing on my Tumblr blog with the same username, and before I knew it they started catching a lot of momentum with an increasing audience size.


What issues did you start with?

I like to tackle the not so much talked about issues of a young south Asian woman of today’s generation. I want to be able to take dilemmas and social problems and be able to mold the concept into a comical illustration. One that can poke fun at the issue yet bring the issue to light. Most of the time, I like to keep my illustrations light and fun—something someone can laugh at and still be able to say that they can personally relate to it.


What is the focus of your artwork?

My primary focus of my artwork is for it to bring joy to my audience, this is the focus that I started with and would like to continue to keep as an integral focus of my work.


What are you currently working on?

I’m actually working on a couple things. Although my stand alone comics are gaining such a big audience, I do intend to continue those and perhaps invest time into an actual comic book in the future. However I am also putting time into making crafts for south Asian weddings and beautiful wall décor for homes.


Interview: Roma Rajpal-Weiß (Twitter: @romarajpal)

Editor: Marjory Linardy



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02.11.2016 | 14:46