Sana Nasir, a name most of us are familiar with, is a strong and independent woman belonging to the city of lights and one of the best Pakistani artists. She is not only an international award-winning illustrator, community activist, and graphic designer but rather she possesses something that sets her apart from the rest. She embodies exuberant imaginative faculty and creative power that she is able to expertly translate into her art pieces. Sana can be considered a veteran in the world of art, as she is not a beginner that’s trying find her way in this tumultuous realm; Sana Nasir is someone that has found her voice and has a clear vision of what she wants to do with her art. She, at this point, has many impressive achievements under her belt, which not only include playing the directorial role at the Lahore Music Meet (2018) and Sine Valley Festival in Kathmandu but also arranging various workshops. She has also founded an activist group known formally as ‘Designers United for a Cause, Karachi!’ (D.U.C.K!). On another note, she has studied Communication Design at The Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture where she fell in love with the artistic license that graphic design and typography contributed to her work. Later on, Sana also taught there in the same department and served as a thesis advisor to final year students.
Sana Nasir has always been drawn towards art, it has always been something that has been a part of her essence. Even as a youngster she cannot remember a time when she wasn’t interested in art as from the time she was born it came as naturally to her as breathing comes to a human being. Her inclination towards art didn’t go unnoticed for long and neither did her innate talent for it. From a very early stage in her life, those around her had already been taken aback by the raw aptitude she possessed. Her father was perhaps her greater supporter throughout her life as he took matters into his own hands after realizing that he had an aspiring artist in his house. He would get Sana books on fine arts and techniques she needed to hone her skills as well as proper art supplies. And whilst she was embracing the talents she was gifted with, Sana realized that school, though necessary, would not be a place that will be able to properly mould her into the artist she wanted to become.
She was formally trained in many forms and mediums of art, including oil painting, watercolour, pen, ink, pencils, and charcoal. This delving into many types of art and mediums helped Sana to not feel constricted when it came to pouring out her thoughts and feelings. But when it came to pursuing education and choosing which school to go to, Sana made it clear that art was something that ran in her veins and it is something she’d definitely like to work on and discover, but would never be something she would want to be graded on.
Currently, Sana has been working hard to broaden the horizons of her art, and art in general. In the span of her career, she has created several collaborative projects with musicians including album art and EP artwork. Lately, she has been working on an amalgamation or merger of music and art in the shape of Lahore music meet (2018), which has brought many factors and dimensions into play. Sana’s artwork always has a story behind it, perhaps at times, one would consider her more of a storyteller than an artist, due to her mastery of that skill. Her stories act as portals or windows which allow others to glance at the world or realm that exists within her colourful mind. Sana is also someone that highly enjoys writing, a skill which is only elevated by her interest in reading. This bringing together different forms of art are something which always has and still gives her an edge over others, she can use words and images together and present scenes that have the capability to completely enthral her audience.
For the Lahore Music meet 2018, the entire artistic aesthetic has been deeply intertwined with audio cassettes. Sana found inspiration in these low-tech devices from the past, as they have been something that helped her in developing into the person that she is today. They were an important part of not only her childhood, teenage years but also her parent’s and grandparent’s lives, as well as the lives of countless other Pakistanis. This theme for Sana is something she feels that has deeply influenced and touched the lives of nearly everyone that lived through the same era as her. These audio cassettes are not mere objects but are prominent figures in the past, something that every last one of us grew up with. Sana’s vision for the art of LMM is something to be appreciated because it is something that not only resonates with the masses and makes them feel a rush of emotions but also merges the realms of art and music masterfully; which is one of the key objectives of Lahore Music Meet. Whereas the inspiration for the art of Sine Valley comes from elsewhere, rather than being inspired by the mundane and little things in life, like the art for Lahore Music meet, the inspiration behind the Sine Valley art comes directly from the rich abode of mythology. All the characters that are beautifully presented in the art pieces are based on folk tales and mythical icons that relate directly to the artists’ heritage and culture. The characters or ‘icons’ feel larger and life and in their psychedelic habitat (the art piece), it feels as if these illustrations transcend the realm of existence altogether.
Other than that, Sana has also been a prominent art figure on an international level. She is a Fulbright Alumni, and has received the prestigious and highly-acclaimed Communication Arts Award for Illustration and Typography and not only that but has had her work published in their annuals as well. She has also represented her country in Nepal or more specifically Kathmandu, where she went to design and conduct a community mural workshop. The workshop was something that had a lot of deep and heartfelt behind it, as it was a way to bring together under the pretence of art. Additionally, her illustration and design work has also been published in prolific platforms like the Herald Magazine. Nasir has also worked for Oxford University Press, whom she provided with designed covers for several books. She is also the leader and head of an ongoing series of talks called ‘Freelance Ain’t Free’ at ‘The Second Floor Café’, this series incorporates her plans for the near future which include creating a platform for freelance illustrators in Pakistan.
Another important part of Sana’s work is that she aspires to connect with people, which is something that not most people are willing to do in this day and age. She has been a part of an organization called Peace Niche, which is a non-profit organization that promotes democratic dialogues aimed at resolving the conflicts that plague our nation. The organization encourages cultural and intellect based participation as it gives room for actual discussion and not just superficial exchanges hidden behind the veil of agendas. Sana was also an active member and head designer for the highly acclaimed T2F (The second floor) for a few years, which is one of the first projects of Peace Niche and is a community which provides a platform and stage for open dialogue. During this experience, she came across Sabeen Mahmud, who proved to be an important mentor and encouraged Sana Nasir throughout her journey by being an avid supporter of her work.
As previously mentioned, Sana Nasir serves as an art director, the experience overall for her is intricate. As unlike what a normal artist does, she is not merely involved in the creation and production process. Rather, she has to be deeply rooted in all activities and processes, such as developing strategies, whether they are related to on-site preparations, the actual event, economics or social media. She also has to provide and come up with images that will mesh with the entire theme of the event and bring the idea behind it to life. Sana is not just an artist, creating art is merely one of the many things she does. One cannot help but be moved by her drive, her unique vision, and her immaculate art style; she stands as an inspiration for all young aspiring Pakistani artists that still haven’t quite made their mark in the world.