Luxury publishers Still Waters Publishing launch author Khaula Jamil and her debut book of sensational graphic design and photography value, Raw Life. Khaula Jamil was born and raised in Karachi and read Communication Design at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. After graduating, Khaula worked as an Art Director for TV commercials with a local filmmaker. A year later, she turned to photography full-time. She spends her time traveling and freelancing as a photographer, graphic designer and occasionally as a videographer. In 2008, she was granted the prestigious Fulbright Scholarship for a Masters in Photography, commencing in the US in August 2009. In this issue of The Saturday Post, Khaula chats to us exclusively about her debut book.
Please introduce yourself to our readers:
I come from a very creative sort of family. My grandfather is a poet, my father a television actor, my mother paints beautifully and I am the youngest of three sisters, both of whom are artistically inclined. I suppose my line of work was predestined since I grew up in very multi creative surroundings!
Tell us about Raw Life and the people who feature in your book. Raw Life explores notions of creativity by focusing on the artistic process of 10 creative professionals from Karachi. Each of the Creatives featured hails from a distinct genre ranging from Music and Film, to Art and Comedy. This book highlights the thoughts, opinions, angst and achievements of people who delight in grand dreams and imagine a magnificent future for a beloved Pakistan. Raw Life is thus a valuable tool to motivate aspiring Creatives, whatever their chosen domain.
What was your inspiration behind Raw Life and why did you publish this now?
The impetus for the Raw Life series of books lies in two separate events. First, for five years now, I have been photographing, writing and maintaining a blog of my own. As a spin-off of www.asofterworld.com , I have adopted a photo-blogging style consisting of my views on various things. Over time I have received hundreds of messages from people across the globe telling me how my imagery and thoughts have inspired them, and brought out a sense of creativity in even the most so called non-creative individuals.
Second, studying in a local Art college, I felt there was a dearth of information regarding creative professionals in Pakistan. Apart from a few websites and magazines I could not find details on anyone who had made a career in creativity. The publications that did exist failed to answer the deeper, rawer questions I was struggling with. This sparked thoughts about the role of Creatives in Pakistan. What were they doing to solidify their sense of identity as a community of designers? How were they educating aspiring Creatives on how to bring their dreams to reality when they were so inaccessible?
Still Waters is a publishing company that encourages this sort of research and realised the importance of sharing this kind of knowledge with everyone who was interested in creative practices. My book is their third publication.
What is the significance of the title of your book, Raw Life?
“Raw” by virtue of it’s definition means something that has not been processed or refined. It is something that exists in its natural state. Raw opinions are untainted. When you read my book you will realize why it is called Raw Life. All ten individuals in the book have been open, honest and utterly blunt about themselves, their lives, their careers and their take on various subjects. Also, I consider them raw in the sense that they are still in the influx of their careers. They are on the path to greatness but what makes them real to me is the fact that they have not done their greatest work yet. They are not untouchable and that is what makes them Raw.
Do you think that your education combined with your experience in art direction helped shape the thrust and visual direction of the book?
My education has perhaps played the most significant role when it came to shaping this book. It is because I studied in an Art college that made me aware of the great creative work that is happening in Pakistan. Once I had decided on the people who would feature in the book, whose work I felt directly spoke to me, I conducted lengthy one on one interviews which automatically made designing their particular sections simpler. As a graphic designer, often when you speak to people, you can actually start putting colours and shapes to their personality!
You stress the importance of breaking stereotypes associated with the word ‘Creative’ – to you, what does this word and concept represent?
Creativity cannot be defined in any particular way. It is too diverse a concept to have it weighed down with one final notion. That is the whole point of this book. In Raw Life you have ten different opinions from ten highly creative individuals about what creativity is to them that makes you realize “Creativity” can be pretty much anything you want it to be. Yes, there are some certain rules all creative’s follow and live by, again, those you will be able to identify when you read Raw Life and see the consistency of certain opinions but at the end of the day there is no hard and fast right and wrong where creativity is concerned.
Tell us about the process of involving those that you did in your book – was it difficult for these celebrities to open their lives to you and to a book whose title is at the end of the day, ‘Raw Life’?
I think everyone in the book was intrigued, if nothing else, by my curiosity. I already knew some of the individuals who feature in the book (the benefits of belonging to an Art college) but more than half of them had no clue who I was! All of them however, completely opened up to me without any hesitation. The reason they did that, I feel, is because I was not some reporter trying to know them for the sake of entertainment. My purpose had nothing to do with how they lived their personal lives and of their personal choices. It was about the creative aspect of their life. It was about what they could tell me about their process and journey towards creativity that may help inspire aspiring Creatives. I think each of the ten people understood that this project was in the name of creativity and they were ready to be a part of it wholeheartedly.
Can your work be categorized in a specific genre?
I suppose if one must categorize this kind of a project it would come under “Graphic Design” or “Visual Art”.
Do you think it is important for such art, design and concepts to be incorporated into the Pakistani literary and educational system?
That goes without saying. I think Still Waters Publishing is God sent for that purpose. They help spread the awareness and people have started realizing and appreciating art and design because they know about it now.
Can we expect you to release another coffee table book post Masters?
Lastly, your message to the readers of The Saturday Post:
Don’t be afraid to be creative- just do it!