Art and exclusivity - drawing

Art and Exclusivity

February 09, 2018 / by / 0 Comment

There’s a very nuanced appreciation that my friends and I hold for anything of artistic value that even vaguely represents our Pakistani heritage. It’s the only way we can stay in touch with our roots without participating in the things that don’t appeal to our increasingly westernized perceptions – a fact I am not particularly proud of, but a fact nonetheless.

And so, we set out one day, searching the streets of Lahore (a city in Pakistan) for traditional art prints my friend could hang in her room amidst the collection of Audrey Hepburn posters that lined its walls then.

I met Mustafa that day – an incredibly flamboyant personality, sharp of wit and blunt with his words. We made small talk; I met Peanut, his dog. Mostly, I was intrigued by a wall in his room, dimly lit with a string of fairy lights framing the top. An eclectic mix of doodles and scribbles filled up most of the space – stick figures, half-drawn portraits, fragmented verses of poetry in a million different scripts and abstract pieces that would take pages to describe. It was just an incredible assortment of spidery sentences and hand-drawn artwork documenting years upon years of interactions, each tied to a different personality.

“It’s sort of a ritual I’ve devised for anyone that comes to my house,” Mustafa explained, handing me a jar full of Faber Castell markers, “Write something, or draw something, or write and draw something – whatever you’d prefer.”

I ended up drawing a rocket ship flying into space, in a bright shade of red. The strokes were crooked, some smudged beyond repair but in that moment, I was proud of my little stamp and the meaningful interaction it represented.

Mustafa’s wall has since become a symbol of rebellion for me – rebellion against the perfection that the world expects from art and artist alike. Art doesn’t need to be exclusive to the people that can do it well; it simply requires the creation of something meaningful which is an ability that all humans possess. In fact, with creativity at the centre of artistic expression, one should expect that every creation is viewed as art, even if it’s as simple as a few strokes of red on the side of a teenager’s bedroom. We created art on that wall, in that room, with every conversation we had and there were no limitations we had to work within; that’s the kind of creative freedom I wish to advocate for.

Many would deem this view puerile and idealistic, and I won’t suggest that it applies to art in a more professional sphere, but I do subscribe to it when considering the personal significance of creativity and its expression. The illustrations I make, and the poetry I write are mediocre at best, but just because they fail to reach the standards set by society for what is considered “good” art, it doesn’t mean they’re unimportant.

I never met Mustafa again, but I often wonder if my rocket ship is still there, or if it’s been drawn over by something more impressive – maybe a bigger rocket ship. Whatever its fate has been, I’ll continue splattering the pages of my journal with AM epiphanies and it doesn’t matter if they don’t make sense to anyone else as long as I scribbled them down when they needed to be felt.


1st-year Econ&Fin student. Spends time scouting for dogs to follow on Instagram. Occasionally dabbles in writing and digital art when hit with bouts of existential ennui.