Maria Qa­mar

Elle (Canada) - - Special -

Han­dle @hate­copy Her nine- to- when­ever gig Desi Pop Artist Up next Work­ing on her first book

“They’re meant to look like In­ter­net memes,” notes Maria Qa­mar, who ex­ploded onto the art scene last year thanks, in part, to the In­ter­net. Af­ter be­ing laid off from a Toronto-based ad agency in early 2015, the 25-year-old be­gan cre­at­ing brightly col­oured doo­dles that de­pict her life as a South Asian girl (a.k.a. desi) liv­ing in North Amer­ica. Within days of post­ing to her In­sta­gram ac­count, her first two draw­ings were shared across the Web. “I still don’t add a water­mark or sig­na­ture­­. That’s the con­cept be­hind a meme: You just make it and let it hap­pen.” What hap­pened, specif­i­cally, was that BBC pro­filed the artist, as did Dazed and Vogue In­dia. But Qa­mar says she knew she re­ally had some­thing when peo­ple started re­quest­ing prints. The artist now runs her own shop, sell­ing prints and T-shirts and totes bear­ing her sig­na­ture Roy Licht­en­stein-es­que pop-art. “I grew up in Mis­sis­sauga [Ont.] and was bul­lied a lot. My work is ex­actly how I feel about things—I had no idea that other peo­ple felt the same way!” Her unique sense of hu­mour (phrases like “Trust no aunty” and “Didn’t she wear that sari last week?” ap­pear reg­u­larly) has trans­lated world­wide and, hav­ing had two ex­hibits al­ready in Toronto last year, Qa­mar is now tak­ing her work abroad: She has been asked to cre­ate a mu­ral in In­dia. “I think it’s ex­cit­ing that women of colour are us­ing so­cial me­dia to share their art­work. I hope one day we’ll have our own gal­leries—in­stead of try­ing to jam our work into gal­leries that won’t take us.” h

Cot­ton dress (Jeremy Scott), brass ring (Aoko Su),

nickel cage ring (Carte Blanche), 18-karat-gold­plated midi ring (Qiyada), vin­tage enamel ear clips (Di­vine Deca­dence Orig­i­nals), enamel skull soda

pin and shoot­ing-star pin (Hay­ley El­saesser), cop­per-plated-nickel and enamel “pink wig” and

“heart tub” pins, plated-nickel and enamel “per­fume” pin, metal “I Love Chips” pin (Rose­hound Ap­parel), brass and enamel “Coucou Suzette Lips” pin and gold-plated-brass and enamel “Ge­or­gia Perry Rain­bow” pin (ban.do #girl­spopup)

and leather boots (Stu­art Weitzman)

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