I always have a particular visionary picture that fascinates me within my thoughts. Then all I need is their legacy in written format and my imaginational realm.
Please tell us about your background, education.
I am a British Pakistani artist, a God-gifted calligraphy artist on an international scene. My secular qualifications are within the ICT sector and teaching, thereafter, I pursued Islamic Scholarship (Alimmiyah) Studies, including Herbal Medicine.
Tell us a little about your particular field?
I specialise in designing and painting calligraphy portraits of famous personalities that have had a positive effect on the world or that have contributed to the world with their talents. In short, I paint calligraphy portraits of my idols.
What sparked your interest in this field?
I had passion for art from a very tender age of six years so I have been drawing, writing and doodling ever since, however, I never really pursued any education in art nor calligraphy. To cut a long story short, me and my husband moved to teach abroad in Doha, Qatar. Although I was working full-time, I found myself having adequate time on my hands, therefore, I started painting again to fill in the time-gaps. This is when I decided to paint the famous PM Imran Khan calligraphy portrait and gift it to him as he was coming to Qatar to address the Pakistani overseas community.
Did it start with a hobby? When did you think to take it professionally?
Yes, I perceive it as a hobby, which commenced at a very young age. I used to like painting and drawing in my spare time. I actually started taking it professionally after my calligraphy portrait of PM Imran Khan went viral on social media and television.
What does an artist see as important issues or considerations in your projects? What are the challenges of any given project?
Personally for me, the most crucial consideration is painting my role models and those who have played an important part in my life or have made a positive impact on the world. The biggest challenge is finding inspiration, sometimes you are just not inspired enough and keeping up with your talent.
Do you hold exhibitions or sell online too?
I held a small exhibition in 2010, thereafter, I took a short-break from painting altogether. After my portrait of the PM Imran Khan went viral, I received many requests so my husband, Moneeb created me a website: www.sonianisa.comand manages it. InshaAllah I will hold an exhibition in Qatar soon and Pakistan in the future.
How do you gather information about the clinet’s needs and your goals?
Luckily, In my case its straight forward when it comes to average clients asking for a calligraphy portrait of a relative. I just need a perfect picture of my client and a poem to go with it. However, my biggest challenge is feeling inspired and finding my inner peace.
How long does it take to work on a single project?
So far all my orders have been calligraphy portraits and believe me, they are very time-consuming and take much longer than most people assume. For example, the Imran Khan calligraphy portrait took me ten days to create a draft sketch and then roughly 24 plus hours to paint it onto canvas.
What are the steps in the design process?
Firstly, when it comes to the famous legends, I always have a particular visionary picture that fascinates me within my thoughts. Then all I need is their legacy in written format and my imaginational realm.
What is your design philosophy?
Like any other artist, I operate differently, although every artists end result is alike. For me, “my art is my meditation”, so I create designs that inspire and motivate me to keep going. My philosophy is that every design must have a purpose and it shouldn’t exist just for the sake of it or neither for it to just look nice. Each design holds a meaningful inspiration. For example, I painted Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan Saab in that particular pose because that is their signature pose, the portrait encompassed most of his famous qawwalis, which I too, grew up listening to, and most importantly I must fit in his title “Shehanshah-e-qawwali” to honour him with the well-deserving respect.
Tell us how you pick the themes of your projects?
All my projects are based around my role models. They all have impacted my life; whether through their music, their poetry or appreciable demeanour and so on.
Any worth mentioning incident that you would like to share during the making of your interesting drawings?
Like all my fans and followers, for me too, the calligraphy portrait of PM Imran going viral and all over news was not just a blessing but a dream come true. Apart from this famous meeting with the PM Imran Khan himself, where he invited me to the Bani Gala House, to meet him in person. The other incident in my life that had a major impact on me and I perceive as one of the biggest blessings, is the personal invitation by Allama Iqbal’s grandson: Respected Mr Munib Iqbal saab. They invited me for painting the portrait of Allama Saab in his well-known side pose with the calligraphy of his famous poem/dua “Lab peaatihaidua ban key tamanameri”. They honoured me with the “Allama Iqbal award of excellence” and gave me the blessing of meeting their only living child of Allamasaab: Respected MuneeraBano.
Any plans of moving to Pakistan? Why or why not?
I actually love Pakistan, specially being a Kashmiri. “I mean Kashmir is literally Heaven on earth”. I had some great projects scheduled for March 2020 but unfortunately due to covid 19 everything has been delayed until Dec 2020 InshaAllah. I would love to move to Pakistan sooner or later if I find the right opportunity.
What tips would you like to share regarding your unique and very interesting profession?
Many fans often ask me how I learnt this art and if I could teach it to them etc. I want to enlighten them all that all you need is self-discipline, a lot of practice and patience with oneself. Each one of us can achieve their dream job through practice, hard-work and passion.