Teakster: Art Across Mediums and Society

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As Salaamu Alaikum Teakster.  Thanks so much for agreeing to visit my website.  I first caught your ingenious pictures on DeviantArt and was blown away for several reasons.  Firstly, your style is fresh and different from anything that I’ve ever seen.  You use rich colors and a mixture of media to create original pictures.  Secondly, I was impressed by your interweaving of Islamic imagery and design and calligraphy.  This really caught my attention.  As a Muslim and a writer who enjoys multiple forms, I always have my eyes open for other Muslims who are engaged and visible.

Wa alaykum salaam.  Jazaka’Allah and thanks for your kind words.

Well…I guess this is the part where I write how cool I am and explain what I do.  I’m a pretty boring person but if you still want to listen then grab some hot chocolate and gather round so I can tell you a tale about myself.

I create my own Islamic art and other design work.  My work is a fusion of eastern and western styles, which is influenced by my background.

I also love collaborating with other artists to create unique pieces of artwork.  I believe that this is a great way to develop the growing movement in Islamic art by working alongside other artists. Working with other artists is a great way of exercise my creativity, plus it helps to kill boredom as I have probably run out of ideas!

Four Elements - Arabic

1.  I read on your website that you were discouraged from developing your artistic talents as a youth, and that as a result you actually tried to quell your desire to create for a time.  Something changed, and you eventually honed your gift, as evidenced by your amazing work.  What was the turning point when you decided that you had no choice and had to pursue art?  Do you now have the support you were initially missing?

I have always been interested in art. I tried using the creative industry as place to utilize my skills, however I found the creative industry is strangely one of the most uncreative areas to work within. This is because some clients are dull and the awkward people to work with.

Therefore, my work is a form of escapism; a way to be creative without any boundaries

It was not until I was winning awards that I got the respect from my family.  Before then, I was mostly doing it in secret.  I was worried that people would say that what I was doing is pointless and a waste of time.  I guess you have to prove yourself before people will respect you.

2.  I spied your art on Facebook, DeviantArt, and your website.  You have some incredibly colorful eye-popping pieces of art.  While I am no artist, it seems that you employ a mix of multiple techniques.  There were some coordinated pieces that included both Arabic and Chinese calligraphy and one with some manga style art.  Is there a name for the kind of art you create?  What tools and methods do you use to create such wonderful pictures? 

A few things help me to make great work.  However, plenty of luck helps me out a lot.

My artwork contains vivid colours, mixed with different textures.

I still think I am an amateur in the art and photographic world.  I want to improve my skill and try different styles.  We are all born with creativity but we need to learn to display our artistic ability.

My gallery is filled with different items, like a magical goody bag.  Some of the images are just plain eye candy, while other items, I would like to think, moves the watcher emotionally or makes him think.

I don’t have many artworks that show negative images since most of media loves to show horror and evil of the world.  I want people to look at something that will bring a smile to their face.  I want to give people an inspirational feast for the eyes.

Sometimes the best work I’ve made is when I don’t over think it.  I let the artistic flow take over and let it grow organically.  I have a rough idea but sometimes when I finish my work, it is not what I expected it to be.

Erm…Did I mention luck?

3.  Are you self-taught or were you trained in the arts?  If not, tell us about your day job.  If yes, what kind of training? (Courses, classes, mentors…)  Who are your greatest influences?  How/why did they influence you?

There are masters of art, photography, and calligraphy who I really respect and some of them are my friends, but I don’t like to be influenced by them.  This is because there is a danger of copying them and I want my work to be unique.

I haven’t had any formal training as I am a great believer in ‘learn-by-doing’.  I understand why some people pay to learn about basic techniques but artistic flair cannot be learnt.  It takes hours of practice.

When it comes to art, I don’t follow rules.  I make my own rules….and I still don’t listen to those either!

4.  It is obvious that your art is highly influenced by your faith, Islam.  Can you articulate how Islam influences and informs your art?  Do you feel that your faith enhances or limits your art?  Or both?  Explain how.

Azaan III

The messages in my work are about unity and peace.  This is a tradition that is deeply rooted in Islamic culture.

Many people think Muslims are a barbaric people with no imagination or creativity.

Muslims are always looking back at history and praising their past achievements.  Long ago Muslims were the leaders of arts and science.  They single-handily kicked started the Renaissance period. However, that is all in the past and now is the time to revive these forgotten arts.

5.  There is an interesting download on your website, a magazine called Project Suwar, published in 2007.  This appears to be an effort on your part to highlight the creative efforts of other Muslims whatever their form.  Why do you feel that it is important to provide exposure to up and coming Muslim talent?

I want to show people that Muslims are some of the most creative people around and can design some of the greatest piece of art.  Muslims, especially in non-Muslim lands, shouldn’t underestimate the value of their work.  I believe art has the power to communicate on a platform unhindered by language barriers and inspire them or even reach people at a personal level.

6.  There appears to be only one edition of Project Suwar.  Was the project eventually abandoned?  If it has not been abandoned where can we find more editions online?  If Project Suwar has been abandoned, do you have plans to resurrect it sometime in the future?  If yes, When?  Where can it be found?

I had to put Project Suwar on hold as I couldn’t find enough artists willing to work with me on it.

Recently a lot of other magazines are cloning what I originally started so I am not sure if I want to start it again.

7.  What advice would you like to offer other artists, that you perhaps never received yourself, about training, confidence, exposure and self-marketing?

If you want to be rich and rolling in money then become a lawyer, doctor, or a businessman.  Being an artist as a hobby is fun, but it is a different ball-game when you want to make a career out of it. You need to put a lot of time and effort into improving your skills.  You will need to be able to handle negative criticism, as you will get that a lot of the time.  However, if you plan to make this your career then you’ll be rewarded with being involved in creative projects and pushing your design skills to the max.

8.  I know that you accept commissions.  Explain exactly what kind of work you are willing to do and how you can be contacted. 

Someone asked me that if I don’t like making things for clients – why do you bother?

To me this can be a grey area.  Normally I would turn them away but if they ask me to work on a project that seems interesting or something I would enjoy – then why the heck shouldn’t I do it!  I’d be doing something I enjoy, plus it aids towards the ongoing bills.  I mean, it is this or stocking shelves at the local supermarket.

If anyone wants to work with me on an interesting project, I can be contacted via my website @ www.teakster.co.uk.

Teakster -vs- Queen Pixie

9.  Lastly, the name Teakster, I assume, is an alternate moniker.  Why did you choose it and what, if any, significance does it have?

Teakster is the voice from the dark recesses of my mind.  It chose the name because I wanted the focus to be on my work and not the person behind the name.  I don’t want to be recognized in the streets as I get a little bit embarrassed by the whole thing.

Thanks Teakster for agreeing to this interview.  It was a pleasure. To have you here at my site.  If you’re interested in checking out some of Teakster’s art, you can view his galleries at DeviantArt and on his website.