“Art is a Great Vehicle for Change”
Q: Hashim, if you were to describe yourself in 150 words, what would you say?
A: I’m an artist based in the UK of English and Malaysian parentage. I began my career as an illustrator working for broadsheet newspapers, magazines, design firms but began moving into fine art to evolve my own ideas, techniques and to break away from the rigid structure of commercial art. This proved fruitful, leading to awards, gallery representation, sponsorship from an art manufacturer, commissions and I’m currently working on my fourth art book.
I have also started lecturing in schools on art and creative thinking which has been hugely rewarding as I’m convinced art is a great vehicle for change for individuals as well as society.
Q: What inspires you?
A: I’m like a sponge and I go about consuming everything that creates new ideas or perspectives that broaden my horizons. Over the last few years, I’ve been less than inspired by the art world finding more creative thinking in other arenas including political, sociological and cultural. I still love the mastery in practical art but view technique as the mechanics and find the ideas behind the art far more intriguing.
Q: Who is your role model in life, if you have one, and why?
A: Caravaggio is my favourite artist, his life makes for an interesting read while his art is unsurpassed. Caravaggio was known for using models from the general populace in depicting religious scenes, radical at the time, rather than the idyllic Hellenic forms found in other Renaissance paintings. Van Gogh, Pierre Bonnard and Paul Cezanne transformed my palette into a rich contrast of Complementary pigments, exposed my brush marks and allowed me to see beyond the image.
"As art is the main driving force, success is measured by the quality of work."
Q: Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career!
A: Writing my first book was a huge accomplishment at the time as writing never seemed to be an option. At school I was painfully shy, I never spoke and my art teacher rated my chances of becoming a painter low as ‘the only jobs in art were teaching’. After a couple of years as a jobbing artist and while demonstrating at an art show I was offered a contract to write a book.
I was incredibly tentative but excited at the prospect and in 2012 my first book ‘Vibrant Acrylics’ was published. It proved a success, has now been translated into five languages and to this day I still receive complimentary messages from around the globe. Now with several books to my name and as a regular feature writer for the UK’s top-selling art magazine ‘Artist and Illustrators’ being a published author is my biggest achievement.
Q: How do you define success?
A: Defining success in art seems to be very subjective depending on who you ask. I’ve met artists who are immensely satisfied at just the act of creating a piece of art while others imagine success is just around the corner if only they were discovered. I gauge success by the art I produce and whether a painting can stand up to the acute level of scrutiny I place on it. Once it’s in the world and a sale is made that’s purely the economics and I’m allowed to make another. I acknowledge the commercial aspects which is a huge hurdle to overcome but as art is the main driving force success is measured by the quality of work.
Q: What advice would you give to younger artists?
A: I value good constructive criticism or advice although the turning point in my career came when I decided to tune everything out. I literally just got on with what my gut told me. In self-employment or as an artist you’re staking everything on choices you’re responsible for, you’ll take the rewards and failure so advice can come at a cost.
Q: Can you share with us a couple of stories that have either inspired you or transformed the way you think/ act?
A: My first interview at a ‘proper’ gallery was memorable. I use to work in a very painstaking way with each painting taking at least a month to complete. I showed five or six pieces, mainly landscapes and buildings, lined them up as the gallery owner went about dissecting each one. It did not go well and having had some success in illustration I felt completely out of my depth. This was also the first time I had received harsh criticism and separating emotions from valuable information was difficult.
As a last resort, I showed a couple of quick, painterly sketches and these were better received. I returned the following week having produced five looser paintings all of which were accepted and all sold within the first month. I’m still represented by the same gallery today but the experience was transformative in my perception that paintings had to be long, drawn-out affairs, tinged with pain and suffering.
An interesting aspect in art is how others perceive you, which can either have a positive or negative effect. I am mostly isolated from the world spending most of my days in the studio. On one occasion a fellow artist commented on aspects of my work including books, magazines and how these had tarnished my chances of becoming a respected artist as they were for mass markets. There is certainly a hierarchy in art and most artists survive on the fringes but it is noticeable how any successes, big or small can be translated into failure by others. A large percentage of comments and reactions I receive are positive but unfortunately, the seeds of negativity are deeper routed. I now use these comments as motivational tools.
Q: What is your favourite quote?
A: I live by Voltaire’s ‘Perfect is the enemy of good’ and for unwanted criticism Tywin Lannister, Game of Thrones, quote ‘A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep’.
You can see more of Hashim Akib's art at www.hashimakib.co.uk
Hashim began his artistic career as an illustrator working in both editorial and design for over fifteen years. These years provided valuable experience in developing a backbone of competent drawing and painting techniques, creating conceptual ideas and a professionalism towards the creative arts.
Having moved away from illustration and into fine art Hashim has won numerous awards, including in 2009 the SAA (Society of All Artists) Artist of the Year, having won the Professional title in both 2005 and 2007. He worked with the art manufacturer DalerRowney in their relaunch of the System 3 Acrylic range producing paintings for the ad campaign, demonstrating the versatility of the paint at various events and on live television.
His first book entitled ‘Vibrant Acrylics’ was published by Search Press in 2012. He has been featured in various art publications and is a regular contributor to the Artists and Illustrators magazine. A couple of new books were published in 2017 on ‘Painting Urban and Cityscapes’ by Crowood Press and Dorling Kindersley’s ‘Artists Painting Techniques’ while his next publication will be on ‘Portraiture in Acrylics’ due in 2019. Hashim is represented by several galleries in the UK and has exhibited with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, New English Art Club and Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries in London. Hashim has also taught his unique techniques and creative thinking courses to art schools in the UK and in Europe.
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