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.