Manal Mirza is an educated and experienced artist whose inspiration roots from her culture and upbringing, identifying herself as an “Americanistani.” She incorporates colors and patterns while sending a clear message through the various pieces. Her artwork is bright, quarky and fun, with meaningfulness. Let’s learn more about Manal:
R. What kind of artist do you identify yourself as? What kind of messages do you want to send through your art?
M. I’d identify myself as an illustrator or designer through the lens of someone who is an American-Muslim-Pakistani. My artwork has several messages, but the main one is showing the beauty of my culture with a modern twist. It’s about owning the multiple identities we juggle every day as being someone who is second-generation American and being proud of one´s heritage.
R. You identify yourself on social media as “Americanistani,” a play on words between “American” and “Pakistani.” You are also a Chicago girl. How does your background and upbringing influence your art?
M. I guess the “Americanistani” is how I identify myself because it’s being not fully Pakistani and not fully American. It’s almost a different Identity that a lot of us have here. It definitely influences what I like to highlight in my artwork because on one end, I like focusing on my South Asian/Pakistani culture, while on the other hand, it’s about highlighting a young Muslim woman in America.
I grew up in a household where art was appreciated. Both my parents actually went to art school in Pakistan. My dad studied graphic design at the National College of Arts in Pakistan and my mom studied Fine Arts at the University of Punjab. My mom would always help me with my school projects. I never took note of how it was just something that was always around me, until people started bringing it up to me.
R. Your artwork is very colorful, ما شاء الله. Describe to us your source of inspiration.
M. My biggest inspiration is from South Asian miniature paintings. I like to look for patterns and color inspiration.
I naturally gravitate towards more earthy tones like olive green, mustard, burnt orange and pinks. My whole wardrobe is even full of those colors. I think I like the richness and the almost natural aspect that they have.
R. Tell us about your journey and what kind of projects do you work on?
M. I went to Columbia College Chicago and studied interaction design. That’s basically User interface/Experience design. Initially, I was in a different college and was undecided for about two years. I always knew I wanted to do something art-related so choosing something more “techy” helped a lot.
Right now, I’m focusing on developing my online shop and am working on a few side projects where I am illustrating, designing as well as creating logos/branding. إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰ, there will be more opportunities in the future.
R. How can we follow your journey?
M. The best place to follow me would be on my instagram @manal_mirza_.