At GKIDS, we’re enthralled by the work of not just directors for major feature film projects, but of all the individual artists who can bring together their individual styles for a larger work. To that end, we’ve always got our eyes on various artists working individually in their field, and we recently partnered with visual artist Yusra Shahid to create two beautiful commissioned pieces to live on our emails.
How did you first get started as an artist?
I’ve always been interested in fantasy and world building. Art was a way that I could bring that magic to life. Once I bought a tablet to draw digitally I was engrossed. I loved that I could use digital brushes to emulate different kinds of mediums instantly and even animate my art.
Where do you find your inspiration from?
I usually like to draw ordinary places and sprinkle as much magic and fun to it as I can. The source of that magic are the children’s fantasy books I grew up reading, the folklore my grandparents used to narrate to me, and animated movies.
What do you do if you ever have artist’s block?
Take a break! I believe an artist’s block is a way of your mind and body telling you need some rest and change. I personally love traveling and creatively I try to branch out and learn new things, such as making clay jewellery or stop motion animation. When I get back to my art I’m refreshed and have more fun making it!
How did you develop your own personal/signature artistic style/voice?
I’ve never made a conscious decision to develop a signature style. I believe it developed organically over the years as my artistic taste changed and evolved. I also love experimenting with different mediums and styles so I believe my style today is a patchwork of all my favourite artistic approaches.
For your illustration with GKIDS, please describe the process. Did you immediately know what you wanted to do? Did you try out a few different drafts?
The first part of my process is to make thumbnail sketches. I make tons of these tiny sketches trying out different ideas, angles, compositions, and colour sketches which usually help me decide my direction. When I decide on a particular thumbnail I like and it’s approved by the client, I go over it on a larger scale, hashing out the details and that becomes my final piece!
What have you been currently watching, reading, listening to?
I’ve been watching reruns of Gilmore Girls, it’s my comfort show and I usually let it play in the background as I work. Apart from that, I usually listen to a Studio Ghibli playlist or an ‘Arab- American Psycho’ podcast.
What is one thing that you wish you were told when you were just starting out as an artist?
Not every painting is going to be a masterpiece. Making art is a fun process and should be made with as much reckless abandon as possible. Oh and pay attention to the fundamentals!
Are there any illustrators in particular that inspire you?
What is one of your favorite moments in animation?
One of my favourite moments in animation is in The Breadwinner, when Parvana narrates a story to her younger sibling. The artistic style throughout the narration, and the ingenuity of cloaking a complex and otherwise harrowing story in a digestible format of a folktale was very memorable to me.
Please let us know your top 3 GKIDS title recommendations, and one sentence why?
We hope you enjoyed reading a bit more about the amazing Yusra Shahid, and look forward to highlighting more artists that have caught our attention!