Artist Name: Qae
National: Indian Australian
Occupation: concept artist
――First of all, please introduce yourself!
「Hello I’m Qae, a Punjabi digital artist based in Australia. I do freelance concept art of characters, mostly of south asian clothing and culture.」
――When did you start drawing? Have you ever attended an art school?
「I’m in my final year of university right now to get a Visual Arts degree, but to be honest I think looking at other cool artists online and learning from them was the largest factor in my growth. I eventually became obsessed with studying human anatomy at one point out of spite, because I hated having to look for reference photos and wanted to be able to draw the human body from memory whenever I wanted. I think I still enjoy drawing the human body most as opposed to clothes.」
――Please tell us about a work that has influenced your sensibility.
「I listen to music a lot to inform my drawings. Some musicians that I like are Arooj Aftab, Nooran Sisters, and Eva B. I listen to music released by Coke Studio a lot too, I think the music they feature blends tradition and modern themes really well. It captures the kind of essence or style I’d like to showcase with my art. 」
―― Please introduce your original character.
「His name is Aadavan, or Aadi!」
「I first drew him out of frustration, because there were hardly any brown people in comics, games or animation, and the ones I saw always got everything wrong. Nobody at school looked like me growing up either. So I ended up drawing Aadavan one day as my idea of what my ideal cool brown character would look like. 」
「His design was inspired by a curved sword belonging to my grandfather. For people of Sikh faith like my family, carrying a small dagger is culturally important. I wanted him to embody those values of resisting injustice. I imagine him to be an impulsive sort of person, but one who’s true to himself. He’s a transgender man who is not ashamed of his body, I wanted him to be very confident and flexible in his gender expression like that.」
―― I was attracted by the nice clothes that looked like ethnic costumes. How do you find inspiration during the creation?
「My characters are all punjabi like me, so the clothes are all based on what I’ve seen my family wear, my own clothes and my ancestral home in India. I own the same pair of shoes that Aadavan wears, and a very similar shawl to him as well.」
「I look at a lot of the photographs I took on my last trip to Punjab and my family’s traditional embroidery to get inspiration. I’d like to preserve what I can of my heritage as a way of honouring all the hard work my parents did to bring us to Australia.」
――Show us your sketchbook.Please tell us about the theme or worldview of your creative work.
「I’m a very impatient person, so my sketches are really chaotic looking! Trying to do very precise line art is really difficult for me, so I ended up embracing that instead of trying to fight it into a particular shape.」
「In terms of my worldview, I think its important to create character designs that people can be proud of associating themselves with. It’s really awesome hearing people say that my art inspired them and made them love themselves and their culture more, that makes me feel like I’m doing something right.」
――What is the most impressive work you have drawn so far?
「What’s funny is that I think a lot of my most well received work is stuff I hardly thought about when making! In terms of what I think is the most successful, I think this commission I did of an Amazigh woman as a centaur is one of my best designs, even though it’s not very complex.」
―― Who are the creators you admire?
「Through Social Media I’ve met a lot of really cool POC artists that I otherwise would have never met, I admire them a lot for everything they do and for giving me a community. I really like the artwork of Hyde Angelus, Nabi H. Ali, BLAKCATTE and Meeti on twitter.」
―― What do you want to try in the future?
「I want to try developing a world around my art, maybe a comic or just a connected universe. That idea has always sounded so cool to me, but I’m not that confident with my ability to write a compelling story. I think I’d be happy with just being able to bring my characters to more people so they can feel cool about themselves in the process.」
―― Thank you for the interview! Is there any words you like to say to your audience or other creators?
「I’m really grateful for all the nice comments, it means a lot to me as someone who has always struggled with thinking positively about myself or my work. And for any and all support, commissioners and people who have reached out, I’m very thankful!」
Name: Chihiro Sasamoto
I want to communicate various cultures through words :)
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