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The balance between joy and work

We sat down with Naz Nahidi and talked about authenticity


A conversation about authenticity through the eyes of an Artist and Illustrator


What tips would you give to your young self?


Number one do your homework. Don't slack off because you're wasting time. For example, Like the first two years of OCAD, I just didn't really pay attention. I kind of just flowed through, and I missed a lot of opportunities that way. Not only did I lose the opportunity to have to show my peers, what I could really do cause I was skilled. I also miss opportunities to be able to apply to shows. During school and using the facilities at school to showcase my work.

Second, take advantage of all the opportunities that are there in school. Because there's a lot of things that are available to you in the bubble of being in a university that is not available to you when you leave the studio space. And teachers to talk to, peers to talk to and connect with art shows to put up with no pressure.

Third have confidence. This could be like a universal feeling. You know, as an artist you're kind of like special in what you do, but then you go to OCAD or you go to your specialized field and everyone's special suddenly. I would say if I could go back, I would just focus on just making work and not worrying about any of that. Just doing my own thing and not worrying about what other people are doing.

Like if it's cool, if it's interesting, just kind of doing my thing and seeking out opportunities that will benefit me.


How do you push past the creative block?

Sometimes I try to figure out first what's creating the block. Like, am I just doing a lot of commissions that are not really my style and not really feeding into my purpose? Then I need to enrich myself by researching topics that I'm interested in. What I like to do is go to indigo and look at magazines like juxtapose, design and illustrations to get inspiration. Just looking at how they're designed and all the cool drawings of what everyone's doing kind of gets me excited. And going out seeing art helps me, like going into galleries seeing again what other people are doing. Going to the library and reading about an artist that I like. I like tapping into the things that used to excite me in the past, usually help and then putting a bit of music on and just kind of meditating on these thoughts, ideas, brainstorming, things like that.


What are things you to do help develop who you are?

Improving your skill, for example, just sitting down and doing still life drawings, figure drawing or practicing things that I like to do. It's kind of boring, but it's just practice. Reading, having an open mind, talking to new people and doing things that make me uncomfortable.


What are your thoughts on social media?

I don't even consider Instagram social media anymore. Instagram is just like work and an online portfolio. You can start creating work just for social media for likes but it's very draining. I feel if you're competing with your peers in a healthy way, it only helps to move your work forward, and make your work better because otherwise, what are you doing it for?


How did you fall in love with illustration?

I used to do a lot of oil painting. Then as I grew up I kind of realized that I was just doing it because it seemed like the proper thing to do and actually oil painting doesn't actually fit my life very well. It takes a lot of time to dry. It doesn't make sense with the type of work that I do. And my stuff is funny and silly and kind of fast. I started realizing being able to work fast, being able to work digitally, working in a clean environment helps. Getting out ideas that I'm thinking of that are kind of funny and topical. That's what's important to me and that's what makes it fun for me. So I started focusing on that and then realized that okay my work actually makes more sense as an illustration rather than being a painter.

In summary, it takes a lot of work to stay in a creative mode. Sometimes we must accept that today isn't our day creatively, but this gives us an opportunity to do things we once enjoyed, for example, reading, researching and looking at peers or your favourite artist's work. You can view Naz's work on her Instagram.

Visual Smugglers is a boutique agency that believes in creating content that is authentic. Asking the question to get to the root of WHO you ARE and WHO you do it for. To book a call, view our reel and case studies, please visit.



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