We first found Soumbul Qureshi’s work when the #SouthAsianArtists hashtag was trending on Twitter and we were deeply enthralled by the fairytale, yet contemporary refreshing interpretation of her own imagination. Her illustrations will make a girl’s heart sing for joy, because it is lovely, feminine and tomboyish at the same time, which is our favourite kind of mix.
Soumbul Qureshi is a graphic designer and illustrator based in Kent, UK. She completed a BA Hons degree in Graphic Design: Visual Communications at the University for the Creative Arts, which led her to work in a digital design agency in Central London for 4 years. With a wide array of knowledge and experience in all areas of design including branding, editorial, web, and illustration, Soumbul prides herself on her eye for detail and thoughtful design solutions. Soumbul’s creative approach can be summed up in two words, Aesthetic & Intelligent.
For Creative Girls: Tell us your story and juicy growing up details. What steered you into being a Graphic designer and Illustrator?
Art, design and all things creative have been a part of my life ever since I was able to hold a pen. I was always drawn to intriguing visuals and felt compelled to explore my own abilities by emulating different styles and techniques (in drawing/sketching/painting). I knew whatever I ended up doing in the future, it would be something creative. I didn’t actually have anyone in my circle of friends or family who had gone down the creative route, so I felt like I was entering unknown territory with no-one to turn to for advice. South Asian culture isn’t exactly the most encouraging when it comes to pursuing the arts, but luckily my parents were super supportive. When choosing my university degree, I wasn’t sure exactly which route I wanted to go down as I had an interest in various disciplines within the creative industry including illustration, design, fashion, photography, and animation. It was quite overwhelming actually! I ended up narrowing it down to graphic design as I found a course at a university that looked really good. (Plus, everyone around me was telling me it was a more stable choice in terms of a career!). Fortunately, graphic design is a field that incorporates many creative disciplines so I was able to dabble in a bit of everything whilst studying. After I graduated, I was one of the lucky ones who managed to get an internship in a design agency in London, they soon employed me and I worked for them for 4 years before taking the (scary yet exciting) leap into Freelancing this year!
Wow! That’s a brave step Soumbul. How has Freelancing been? What does every day look like for you? Give us a peek into your daily life. How do you stay productive?
As a freelancer, there isn’t really a typical ‘everyday’. Managing your time efficiently is a challenge, things don’t always go as planned and before you know it the day is over! But you get yourself into a sort of routine. I tend to check my emails, reply to messages and check out my social media channels (all whilst still in bed!) before then, getting ready and starting work! I have a very handy ’to do list’ on my desk where I jot down the things I want to achieve for the day. (I’m an avid list writer and love crossing things off on my lists, it’s so satisfying!) I prioritise important things that need to be done like client work and responding to emails etc. Then later in the day, I work on my personal goals like reading my bookmarked articles and daily illustrations – even if it’s a rough sketch – just so I’m constantly improving, challenging myself and refining my style. I’m currently taking part in Inktober, where I create a drawing every day using ink-based tools, which is great practice for me as I more often stick to digital.
Your style is colorful, preppy and exuberant. We love it! What influences the way your style comes out?
Thank you so much!:) Honestly, I’m still figuring out my style. I’m constantly scrutinising my own art, trying to figure out ways to improve, trying out new styles, techniques and processes! I’m influenced by anything and everything when it comes to my artwork. I guess I know what I like and that’s what influences my style: soft colour palettes, pastel shades, minimal aesthetics, florals, subtle details, and textures.
What does Creativity as a concept, in general, mean to you? What are your favorite tools for designing and illustrating?
Honestly, the best, most interesting people are creatives and the greatest ideas and inventions come from creatives. They see the world in a different light and have the courage to express themselves freely. I’m always thinking about things I can make, design and draw. It keeps your mind alert – you are always thinking, analysing, wondering and daydreaming! I’m so inspired by the creative community and seeing other artists posting their work, expressing their thoughts, interacting with their followers and constantly improving really helps me to keep going too. There’s this quote that I love which kind of summarises my thoughts about creativity as a concept:
“To be creative means to be in love with life. You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”
As for my fave tools, my drawing tablet is my extended hand for illustrating – it’s hands down one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Then there’s my never-ending supply of sketchbooks and notebooks for jotting down ideas and thoughts and keeping up my traditional drawings. Finally, Photoshop, Illustrator, and Indesign are the power trio of software.
Tell us about 3 women you admire and what you’d love your work to be known for.
Zendaya Coleman, Nadiya Hussain (GBBO anyone!?) and Anoosha Syed (@foxville_art). I also admire pretty much all the artists and designers who I follow on social media.
As for what I’d like my work to be known for, I hope to give off a vibe of creativity, authenticity, and positivity. The bottom line is, I draw what I like. At the same time, I’m also conscious that there is a lack of diversity in the creative field. Featuring POCs in my portfolio helps balance the scales a little, and I enjoy drawing inspiration from my own heritage and experience. So yeah! I look forward to continuing my art journey with you.