I recently collaborated with the amazing visual artist Teakster on the above artwork, which was an absolute honour!
Teakster is an award-winning digital artist based in the UK who is an inspiration to many with his distinct style of art. He has kindly allowed us to interview him on his inspirations, beginnings, creativity blocks and more 🙂
Where are you located?
I am located in the dark recess of Mordor. However, you can occasionally find me in Buckinghamshire, England.
In one sentence, describe your motivation in life:
Get money, buy cheesecake….actually, I should write something better than that. How about – Become the best person that you can be!
Tell us the story of how you got started with your artwork/business:
I started my artistic journey as a form of escapism from the frustratingly mundane corporate work. Inspired by my Islamic faith as well as by Islam’s early art and calligraphy, I started experimenting with colours and patterns which I combined with my artistic skills to produce the intricate digital art. I still enjoy experimenting with different styles in my artwork and I believe that my ‘cosmopolitan artwork’ work can be a bridge between different cultures.
What is one of your favourite pieces of your work and why?
I don’t yet have a favourite piece. I always try to improve myself as an artist and I try to make the next piece better than the last.
What has been the highlight or ‘I can’t believe this!’ moment so far on your artistic/entrepreneurial journey?
I think it is my fan base which I have that I can’t believe. If it wasn’t for their support, I probably would have stopped ages ago. They are the people that drive me on when I feel like giving up.
How does your faith affect your approach to your art/business?
I think my faith affects all areas of my life. My faith acts as an inspiration for my artwork. My faith also educates me on good business etiquettes. I think a lot of people have a negative association with faith but I believe it provides one best foundations to build upon, no matter what area you work in.
What/where/who inspires you?
As an artist, we are always looking for the magical moment when you think of a great idea. Unfortunately, a lot of the time ideas just don’t happen like that. Inspiration cannot be forced – inspiration finds you. Ideas strike us out of nowhere usually when we least expect it. Sometimes I like to get myself out of my comfort zone so that I can start a creative spark.
Some of my most enjoyable assignments have been collaborations with other artists to create stunning original pieces of artwork. I have been privileged to work with renowned artists such as Haji Noor Deen, El Seed, Peter Sanders and Ian Abdullateef Whiteman, as well as with a whole new generation of emerging artists.
I believe that this is a great way to develop the growing movement in Islamic art by working alongside other artists. Working with other artists is a great way of exercising my creativity, plus it helps to kill boredom as I have probably run out of ideas!
How do you handle the inevitable creative block?
The best way to tackle a creative block is to take a break. If you force yourself out of a creative block, it ALWAYS shows. The work will look rushed or just pants!
I find talking a walk, mediation/praying, watching TV, reading a graphic novel or playing a computer game helps to kick–start my creative side.
Some things will work better for others but these are the things I like to do!
What 2 pieces of advice, based on your own experience, would you give to a fellow artist/entrepreneur starting out?
The first requirement is to love the art. Love comes before skill. If someone doesn’t desire Islamic art or just art then they will not succeed. Having a creative eye is important, without that means you’re nothing. There is no skill in ripping off other peoples work but I see that all the time.
If you want to be rich and rolling in money then become a lawyer, doctor or a businessman. Being an artist as hobby is fun but it is a different ball-game when you want to make a career out of it. You need to put a lot of time and effort into improving your skills. You will need to be able handle negative criticism, as you will get that a lot of the time. However, if you plan to make this your career then you’ll be rewarded with being involved in creative projects and pushing your design skills to the max.
I haven’t had any formal training as I am great believer in ‘learn-by-doing’. I understand why some people pay to learn about basic techniques but artistic flair cannot be learnt. It takes hours of practise. Only a lucky few are naturally talented, the rest of us need to put a lot of time and effort into improving our skills.
One of best advice that I say to young artists or designers that are starting in the field is to always quote respectable prices. It can be very tempting to create artwork for a “cool” company for very little pay and the promise of insane exposure or an incredible portfolio piece. However this is the most toxic line of rubbish anyone will ever feed you….In the past I have bought these lines more times than anyone with an ounce of sense ought to have.
When you are starting your career, it will be INCREDIBLY tempting to take on any work that comes along, no matter how unfairly companies are trying to compensate you. It is so easy to get sucked-in to believing that by doing something for free or for cheap, the customer will gratefully value the work and reward you with more work. Nothing is further from the truth.
In reality, if you work for free, you will likely lose the customer the moment you start charging what the work is worth. The customer will charmingly send you other customers but they too will expect stuff for extremely cheap or free. Charge what you know you are truly worth and attract the customers that you want to make your business enjoyable.
If any young artists have any more questions, then they can hit me on my twitter account – @Teakster
Favourite Social Media or Marketing Platform?
I use anything and everything. Speaking of which…what is this Snapchat thing all about?!
If you could travel to one place anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?
I don’t like places that are filled with lots of tourists. I would love to visit a natural forest. However, knowing my luck, I would probably get beaten up by a bunch of monkeys and they would steal my slice of cheesecake!!!
Where would you love to see your business in 5 years time?
Hopefully, I’d like to be doing what I love instead of turning into a cynical old man. I really want my brand to become a household name.