Hello! Here you can find my online portfolio full of my visual art, my events, some background information about myself, etc. Feel free to browse my summer campaign photoshoot featuring my first apparel collection shot by Natalie Grakovski (@natgraks) and Patrick Ryder (@patryderr) and order some shoes/clothing/bags if you'd like to. (P.S. The coral, white and yellow dress shirts are still available for purchase, email me!) At the bottom of this page are some interview questions if you’re interested in learning about what makes me tick.
Feel free to contact me (email@example.com), just make sure to read the FAQ page first!
Photographers: Natalie Grakovski (@natgraks) and Patrick Ryder (@patryderr)
Clothing & Stylist: Honey (@hxxni)
For my first (and solo) showcase with Seneca at York, I was interviewed about my artistry and identity as a creative. Below you will find answers that provide a glimpse into my mind and I hope it helps to shed light on what makes me tick. Enjoy! (Interviewer: Jeene Sulaivany)
At what age did you start getting into art?
I've always been intrigued by visual art forms and their capacity to induce emotions. Especially the act of self-expression through creating art and having strangers interpret it to their own liking. As a child, I drew on my binders to simultaneously mark my territory and express my individuality through my intricate sketches intertwined with text. As I grew older, I didn't like the idea of being told to create something for solely to be graded and producing themed content for the sake of it. I felt like that took away from my creative license and the reasons behind creating art became muddled, thats why I never studied art in high school or professionally. Sounds pretentious I know, it was mainly because I didn't wanna forcefully produce art when I wasn't a hundred percent motivated nor inspired to do so for the right reasons. Ever since then, I continue to produce art whether its apparel, free verse poetry, honey kicks (shoe customization) or canvas work.
How would you describe your style?
I would describe my artistic style as both sides of the spectrum, I like contrasting elements together. In a less abstract explanation, I love linear shapes and the comfort that comes from straight lines but also colliding that with flowy silhouettes. I also love colour blocks which is one the main identifiable features of my style, but alongside negative space. By combining solid colour blocks with free flowing ink, I create a style that elicits harmony and has a well-balanced form. Aesthetically, I'd describe my style as reminiscent of Matisse whilst incorporating bold, abstract and unpolished statements like Basquiat. A mix of "traditional art" and forms inspired through rough anatomy sketches and "urbanscapes".
You tend to mix art, music and fashion together, what era do you draw from and what types of trends do you follow?
I love Warhol's bold pop-art style from the 60s that pushed realism boundaries and his use of colour inspired me not to be afraid to step out of my comfort zone of using neutral shades. Also, Matisse's seamless body forms and facial details inspire my one-line sketching style. Fashion wise, this is gonna sound cliche but I love Nineties trends and the oversized and large silhouettes intertwined with vibrant colours and shapes. My wardrobe consists of a lot taupes and black that I like pairing with reworked vintage pieces with pops of red, yellow, pink, etc. If I don’t feel like doing the most that day, I like having a sleek silhouette with chunky shoes. Or a big oversized jacket. Depends on the day and how extra I’m feeling, I definitely love expressing myself through fashion and apparel because you become a walking piece of art.
As far as music goes, artists who go beyond producing audio and make abstract visuals to accompany them always make their way into my favourites. For example, Amine's self-directed “Spice Girl” and short films, Dexter Navy's work with ASAP Rocky (A$AP Forever and Praise The Lord), Daniel Caesar’s Freudian visual directed by Yazdani & Sean Brown, Kali Uchis' song After The Storm ft.Tyler directed by Nadia Lee Cohen are a few of my favourites. For me, music videos that are done well (either through colour grading, cinematography, storyline, etc) always contribute to the music and make them more memorable, so when I listen to that track in the future the same feelings of inspiration and solace that I felt when watching the video return when I'm only listening to it. Magic.
Art, music and fashion work as a hybrid in my mind and in my art. I get inspiration from abstractionism, pop art, post-impressionism and then musicians contribute to this cesspool by painting pictures with words and finally fashion serves as a way to make it all tangible and wearable.
What inspires you to create?
I like tangibly forming my artistic perspective and sharing my creations with the world as a way to validate my emotions while simultaneously producing content for the sake of contributing to the art community. Besides other artists, music and fashion, mental health inspires me to create as a cathartic experience and being vulnerable. On almost every pair of honey kicks, a woman with her eyes closed and her hair flowing in the wind is pictured on the side. She represents introspection, being in tune with one’s emotions and self-reflection. Her mystical flowy hair is a symbol for non-linear thoughts and how there is beauty in mobility; Whether thats your career, relationship-status, self definition, etc is up to how your choose to perceive her. As a young artist, I draw her every time to emphasize the importance of progression and how it’s okay to still have moving pieces in your life as long there is some sort of activity and effort. The nameless woman is me sometimes, at other times she becomes a symbol for anxiety and depression, and sometimes she is the collective human struggle but a part of her is always “love”.
Is music/films a big part of your life? Give me a few examples of artists you listen to.
Some of my favourite musical artists are Amine for his unapologetic embrace of his funky and abstract content. J Cole and Kendrick for their stories, lyrics and devotion to helping systemically victimized communities. Frank Ocean for highlighting the beauty behind softness and reminding me that I’m not alone when it comes to feeling socially drained. Jaden Smith for being grounded and a fearless icon. A$AP for confidence and fashion. SZA for embracing her womanhood and empowering others. The group 7 Lakes from Brampton because of their hunger for success and talent that goes beyond “luck”. Also I’m from Scarborough so I like dabbling in some trap like 88 Glam and Nav but most importantly, Drake is my dad.
I love film so much. They serve as a way to escape reality by mirroring life’s struggles but also romanticising it. Being an audience to how directors choose to unravel a story through character development, cinematography and framing, its one of my favourite(est) pastimes. A few of my favourites are David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, Scorsese's Shutter Island, Tim Burton’s body of work, Coraline, The entire Spiderman franchise, Spike Lee’s body of work, the first Sinister, Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, anything with Denzel Washington in it, Ex Machina, Benjamin Button and the entirely shot on film “Anthropoid”.
Can you walk me through the process of making one of your pieces? How does it all start and what happens behind-the-scenes that people might not expect?
My process of customizing shoes starts off with the client bringing me their new pair of kicks and talking about design at an informal meeting. I ask them to pick 2 or 3 colours for the colour blocking and any inspiration they might have. Afterwards, they send me visual inspo through album covers, photography, lyrics, etc and I incorporate it using my own style onto what I call a blueprint. Essentially, its a rough copy on a paper template of the shoe. After I consult them with the blueprint (I always warn them that its messy and just my mental image sprawled out on paper and they always trust me -- thank you!) I make any changes if need be and get to painting. I don’t know how much detail you’d like on the materials, methods and prepping the kicks but I learned most it through YouTube and trial and error. I use Angelus Direct leather paints, I need to get that tatted on my forehead because I get that question everyday. Then, the shoes are re-laced and glazed four times so they’re waterproof and ta-da!! Contemporary street fashion meets avant-garde art that you can represent and wear with love and pride.
The most difficult part is designing the shoe by incorporating what the client wants in my style so I stay true to myself instead of duplicating online images. Also, people often underestimate how challenging it is to paint and sketch on the curved nature of a shoe. It’s curvatures make it difficult to get straight lines and the texture of the stitching requires special attention and extra time to paint/sketch on. Also the placement of images has to be scaled to the size of the shoe so I can’t make anything too intricate or too large that may look ill-fitting once painted. Honestly though, I love painting shoes because sneakers are so versatile to style and I try my best to customize them so they can be dressed up or down.
How do you use social media and marketing to promote yourself and the brand? Has it been a pro or con?
When used correctly, social media is such a fun and useful tool to start and then expand your business. Ultimately, you’re advertising a certain lifestyle and then selling the attractive points to anyone who wants a piece. Instagram allowed me to create a loyal fanbase prior to honey kicks through my showcase of styling and fashion. Afterwards, I continued to use my personal page to gain exposure for my creations because I believe that they’re a reflection of myself and style so I incorporate it all on one collective page.
Social media can often be deceiving because you can subconsciously consume it as meaningful and accurate when majority of the time it’s just surface value. As long as you remember that lives can be fabricated and moulded to satisfy an online audience, you’re good. Especially as a creator who gets 70% of her clients off of Instagram, I know how to frame and make things look appealing (which is an art itself) but remembering that there’s a process to that instead of it being a candid reality saves you from romanticising images and lives. Success through social media often looks like money and year round vacation but everyone posts the peak points of their lives and the journey that got them there is left out. I think social networking has more pros than cons but you just need to stay vigilant and take breaks if need be, I do it all the time.
Whats next for Hani the artist?
I want to continue growing as a creative and to do that I have to learn more about everything and expand my knowledge, experiment, take creative risks that daunt me and believe in myself and my abilities. I want to take fashion design more seriously and create more product. I want to mass produce something too, just because everything I’ve made so far has been handmade and 1/1. I intend to take photography more seriously too, in order to remember the highest points of my life when I’m at my lowest. I need to get back to my lost love of writing, especially for social justice causes. I want to work with big brands like Nike and if I can do as much as dream out loud, an haute couture brand too. As of now, I’m content with the direction I’m headed in but not nearly satisfied. I don’t ever wanna be comfortable with my success for a long time, always working towards something bigger. Pray for prosperity.