In Conversation with Aqib Mehmood Sketching Stories with Realism Portraits

Talent knows no boundaries. It can project from anywhere and through anything. And while anything which isn’t mainstream and conventional still needs to take on a strong stance to declare its worth in this country, when we see incredible work of artists like Aqib Mehmood being appreciated by the likes of celebrities, it does give a little hope and nudge to dreams that are different but are of great stature. Speaking to Social Diary, Aqib, whose pencil sketches are already getting popular on social media, shared how despite facing setbacks, his vision was finally being realized and how it is important for our community to come together in supporting work which might just be a little outside the box.

SD: How did you get into the art of pencil sketching ?
Aqib: Well honestly I couldn’t get my hands on other mediums like acrylics , so I was left with only pencils , paper and a good heart with a keen interest to draw!
SD: Did you get any professional training for the same ?
Aqib: No I didn’t take on any professional training since I’m a Medical student. I couldn’t go to any art institutions like NCA. What led to my progress was that I used to watch other artists draw , which kept me motivated to keep on practicing. I also adapted the art of drawing on a daily basis.

SD: How did this interest develop in you?
Aqib: Portraits in pencils (graphite & charcoal) were more recognized and appreciated than any other subjects like still objects or nature. So yeah that kind of explains the whole thing, henceforth I spent more time drawing faces. This led to major ways of expression which I loved and enjoyed experimenting with.
SD: Do you take it up as a hobby or professionally?
Aqib: It used to be before but now it’s more like a part-time job for me which I love of course ! I wish I could’ve taken this professionally, my parents didn’t believe in me at the time I was about to graduate from High School. I had wanted to be an architect where I could utilize my drawing skills but as all the traditions go, I was somewhat forcefully put into the field of medicine. While I didn’t dislike medicine, I do believe I could’ve aced in the latter if I had gotten the chance to explore it further.
SD: How does it feel to be recognized by celebrities for your work ?
Aqib: It feels completely awesome! On 11th October 2020, I received my first ever celebrity shout out by Feroze Khan. That was the day I realized there are some people that do appreciate art the way it needs to be. It was a major boost to my work and the extent to which it can reach and make a mark. But I have to say I don’t draw celebs for fame only, I draw the people that I like and the ones that I admire. If it were only for the fame I would’ve started drawing so many influencers , in the aim of increasing my IG Family!

SD: Do you wish to experiment with other kinds of mediums for expression?
Aqib: Definitely! I see a lot of people drawing using paints, acrylics, oil, watercolor etc , which makes me want to do the same, but I only have plans to practice them after graduation !
SD: Why do you feel making an impression in the field of arts is still a struggling concept in Pakistan?
Aqib: Art isn’t valued , I’m referring to around 70% of the people here in Pakistan. My own parents included who regret their decision of sending me to medical school. What I believe is people don’t appreciate this as a profession, just like being a musician , a dancer the list goes on. It is high time we look into the different portals of expression and allow for individuals to express their craft in whatever way suits them the most.
SD: What more could be done to make Arts prominent in this region and as a mainstream field ?

Aqib: If only I had more people like Osman Khalid Butt, Feroze khan or Imran Ashraf or people having the social media strength who understand the tireless struggle which we have to go through. These are the folks who have the power to change the concept of Art. I think it all comes down to forming a combined effort where the artist gets the platform to shine and be appreciated.
SD:Is there an international artist or work which inspires you?
Aqib: A lot of foreign artists, to name a few:
Jono Dry – United Kingdom
Silvie Mehdal – Czech Republic
Heather Rooney – Arizona
Dylan Eakin – New York
Matteo Zoccheddu – Italy
All of them practicing Photorealism inspired me to self polish my skills.
SD: Do you feel age matters when wishing to take on your dream work?
Aqib: Yes It does! Though it is said that it’s never too late to start up, what I believe is that the sooner you are on your path to your goal , the better it is, provided the right motivation and guidance. Parents tend to keep their children according to their respective customs and traditions which isn’t a bad thing but neither is “just”. Rather discovering a child’s inner potential and setting him/her to the right trail is a necessity.
What is the one best work you created and why?
Aqib: The drawing of Ahmed Ali Akbar was a major step forward, I’ve been using Graphite only for all B/W portraits and was hesitant to use Charcoal as my next medium, there were so many pros in using the latter , no shine being the most obvious one (shine here refers to the reflective nature of Light which the Graphite exhibits). But then I decided to take the risk and go for it , henceforth this drawing is regarded as the best work not just by me but all my Art loving family throughout.
SD: How do you feel the government should be supporting rising and talented artists in the country?
Aqib: Acknowledgment. Maybe competition at academic level will help to polish the skills of those who aspire to become artists. An encouraging platform so that people can acquire it as a source of earning in the long run. What’s the need of hour is a proper acknowledgment to art.
SD: Your words of advice to those who also hold a passion for creativity but are not strong enough to take it as a major career move?
Aqib: Hey Fellow Artists! I want you to treat the negativities lying around you as if they were the “Elaichi in Biryani” . Throw it away. Believe in yourself, don’t let the thoughts of people push you down! 2 years ago in the days of COVID, I had nothing to do except for taking online lectures , watching seasons. I felt like “wasting gold” , that was when I took my drawing seriously, I started practicing daily, people used to laugh at me literally, they still do and there are still people who don’t want me to move forward in life. But then again , you have to remember “Elaichi” without which Biryani isn’t Biryani , you miss the taste. So without these people you miss the competition, there won’t be anything to prove your potential. So take risks, give your best and ignore the rest !


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