Karachi-based visual artist, who can be considered as a pioneer of 3D/ anamorphic art in Pakistan, Obaid ur Rahman is passionate about his craft. He has been working with murals and 3D art at commercial and private levels and has displayed his work in gallery shows in Pakistan as well as abroad. Being among very few artists in the world who’ve painted animated murals and the first artist in Pakistan to create a 4D painting, his projects leave spectators in awe. Speaking to Social Diary, he shared how most of his personal works are of experimental nature as he tries out different mediums, surfaces, and technology to find a style of his own. Excerpts from the interview:
SD: When was the first time you felt you had an artistic itch which needed to be explored further?
Obaid: I have been involved with arts and crafts quite early but the kind of work that I do now started back in 2014 during a break from art school when I started creating sketches on the walls on my rooftop, very soon I ran out of walls so one night by accident I created a 3D artwork and later on went on to self-study on how to create these 3D artworks and since then I have created many large scale works.
SD: Were there any setbacks you had to face when pursuing this field in Pakistan?
Obaid: Well when I started out everything seemed to fall in place, I struggled a little bit explaining this art form to others who had not seen it before but other than that it had been easy for me Alhamdulillah.
SD: Were there any readily available art courses for you to take on?
Obaid: This art form is not taught anywhere in the world. I started studying it on my own through the literature that was available online and later I had help from a very well-known American artist; Tracy Lee Stum, who helped me to understand the techniques better and since then has been like a mentor to me.
SD: What was the stance of your family, considering many still don’t consider it to be a career-oriented prospect?
Obaid: Initially, I had no intention of pursuing it as a career but with time I started getting commissioned work so decided to take it as a career. It is a very tough career path as not many have done it before me but with the support of my family and friends, I am still able to continue creating work.
SD: What was the first major project you took on which also impressed your family and solidified your position as a committed artist?
Obaid: It has to be the first 3D artwork that I created in any public space in Pakistan, it was an artwork of a 3D shark coming out of the floor of a local mall that got kind of viral back in 2014 and it also
became a source of introducing this art form to people in Pakistan.
SD: Considered as the pioneer of anamorphic art in Pakistan, share more on what this kind of art signify.
Obaid: Anamorphic Art or as commonly known as 3D art is essentially a 2D art form in which a certain technique is used i.e. anamorphism that makes flat images appear 3-dimensional when seen from a particular point through a convex lens or any camera device. This art form is very interactive and allows viewers to interact with art and in most cases become part of the artwork or complete the artwork by posing with it or within it in some cases. With the advent of new technologies, these artworks allow a new layer of interactivity.
SD: How much time does it take for you to complete one 3D project?
Obaid: The time duration depends on the kind of artwork that is being created but to give a general idea an artwork can easily take 2-7 days. The more complex or detailed the design/draft the more time it tends to take.
SD: Share a little more about how you take on animated murals and how much dedication does that take?
Obaid: To create animated murals is a very draining and time taking process. I follow the same techniques that 2D animators use by drawing each frame with my hands and then when the artwork played on a timeline at a certain frame rate appears animated. To create these kinds of work a lot of prep work is done in advance to avoid any mistakes on a large scale. The prep work includes calculating the number of frames that need to be painted and then calculating the sizes and everything of each element to get the perfect result.
SD: Among the various projects and artworks, you’ve taken on, which remains your favorite to date and why?
Obaid: There are a few artworks that are very close to my heart. One of them is my first 3D / Anamorphic artwork that I did in public. The second one would be a multiple-perspective artwork I created in the corner of my room, that artwork got me noticed internationally and it got published in many graffiti and street art publications. The third would be the artwork that I created for the Street Art Festival in Wilhelmshaven, Germany in 2016. The reason I am proud of it is that with that work I became the first Pakistani street artist to take their work to an international audience.
SD: How does it feel to represent Pakistan on the international platform and what is your message when you take on global projects?
Obaid: It felt great to break the glass ceiling and prove that it was possible. Any time I am a part of an International event I simply try to represent Pakistan in the best way I can by portraying a softer image of the country through my works, through my interaction with people and artists from different nationalities.