Ontarians You Should Know: Hana Shafi
Although the Our Crater team calls Sudbury home, we’ve still had the absolute pleasure of making friends and meeting inspiring people from all over the province! In this series, we will introduce you to some very special Ontarians who are making a difference in their hometown. Know someone who we should write about? Send us an email at email@example.com!
Today’s Ontarian you should know: Toronto artist and illustrator Hana Shafi!
Tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do!
My name is Hana a.k.a Frizz Kid and I’m a freelance illustrator and writer based out of Toronto. I graduated from Ryerson University in 2015 with an undergrad degree in journalism, but since then started devoting a lot more time to my art and really embracing it as a big part of my life and career. One of the art series I’m most known for is my affirmation series, which I started in March 2016.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always had this feeling growing up that I wanted to be an artist, but I sort of suppressed it because I didn’t really feel like I was good at art. I remember my grade ten art class and how much I loved it. I’d come up with really elaborate ideas for each project, things that were beyond my skill set. I’d work really hard on it, but struggle to execute it. Even though all I really needed was confidence and practice, I took that as a sign that I just wasn’t really meant to be in the arts. But once I started practicing again years later, I never looked back
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
Anywhere and everywhere! It can be anything from current events, to music, pop culture, or just hanging out with my family and friends. Sometimes finding inspiration is an introspective thing, where I have to look to myself and my life experiences to be inspired.
What is a favourite piece that you have created?
It’s hard to pick a favourite! But I really love my piece of “Be gentle with yourself.” It’s a lovely reminder for myself, because I’m often hard on myself. I also really love the affirmation pieces that I’ve drawn cats in, mainly because I just adore cats and those pieces make me feel so assured. But one of the pieces I am most proud of is a big piece I did on canvas. It’s pretty intense and a little scary—a hyper-detailed face of a woman, super surreal and filled with creepy line work, with a speech bubble coming out of her mouth that says “is there blood in my teeth.” It’s a dark piece, and the line work took hours.
Feminism, equality, and healing are recurring themes throughout your work. Can you talk about why these are so important to express and share?
Feminism is a big part of my identity. Fighting for equity, justice, and healing, especially for marginalized folks and communities, is something that heals and empowers me. I think a lot about my own healing, and the systemic barriers that have been set up in my life, and in that I also reflect on the barriers that other face and ask myself how can I actively be in solidarity with someone. How can I help my community and other communities find healing, find justice, in a society that has often institutionally barred them from finding these things? I see my art as my form of activism. And I love the way that my pieces can take concepts like feminism and social justice—which can be ideas that are often presented in these very inaccessible, academic, and intimidating ways—and present them in ways that make them easier to understand, accessible, and beautiful. Delving into these heavy topics is a really daunting thing for a lot people, but art is a way to share these ideas in a way that won’t burn a person out.
Do you have any advice for other young artists about making it in the industry?
Practice everyday and know your worth! People can be really harsh, and really condescending towards young artists, especially for young women of colour in the arts scene. There’s this idea that an artist must be overly self-critical and even disdainful towards their own work—I say, love your own work, have confidence, embrace it. That doesn’t mean you should be arrogant or believe that you are beyond practicing and challenge yourself. You absolutely should be practicing all the time. But don’t be too hard on yourself.
Where can we find out more about Frizz Kid and follow both you and your work?
Facebook: Frizz Kid
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