What kind(s) of art do you specialize in?
Art for me is cathartic- so I try to explore various art forms out of curiosity and as a mode of expression. Originally, I have been a writer all my life- as in commercial/copywriter but recent I authored my first book Automation vs. Autocracy: Robogeddon En Route which is available on Kindle/Amazon. I have also written poetry for last twenty years- so there you can also find my Knots & Bonds.
Moreover, I have also been a recording artist with an with Universal Music and an MJ Rock Tributes album which will be available online through all major stores under the artist name The Atif and MJ Rock Tributes as the album name. I play guitars, piano and sing as a way to extinguish the fire in belly.
Also, I have been a professional photographer for last ten years or so- thanks to DSLR revolution things are way faster and much easy to maneuver with humungous possibilities. I do portraits, real estate and fashion but I enjoy wild life photography most. My portfolio can be seen or Flickr and my site.
Additionally, I love to design movie posters in leisure time. With VOD revolution and online media promotions- digital art is in much demand. More movies are made and thus I enjoy my childhood hobby by indulging in poster art.
Last but not least- film I think is the culmination of all art forms. It requires understanding of visual, audio, art direction, wardrobe, color scheme, writing (most importantly) and with a bunch of improv artists film has come to become my most first expression. It’s mighty, it’s challenging and it satisfies me like nothing can- as a curious bone.
What first attracted you to art?
I remember drawing pictures of Superman, F16, Aquariums and Knight Rider as far as my memory goes. But then our drawing class was replaced by technical drawing and my whole therapeutic experience with fine arts and sketching went down the drain. After years I was able to catch up when I took lesson in Adobe, Coral Draw and Quark Express.
I contrived music virus after I was pushed into the polygons and geometry boxes- I started learning piano with a school friend and although he stopped pursuing it seriously; here I am still infected and still going strong.
Films have always fascinated me in terms of story telling. As a writer I have this edge to twist the plot at any point in terms of keep improving it at the last moments while shooting and flip the takes to make it more interesting during the edit. This incredible power to flip the narration of story telling is really attractive which I discovered during my tenure at New York Film Academy’s LA Campus while I was shooting at the European Block in the Universal Studios, right behind where they were shooting Modern Family with Sofia Vergara on the set.
What made you want to do it as a profession and not a hobby?
I was very lucky that I was able to adopt writing as profession. When this passion turned into profession- my life became paid vacation. With the help of music I started doing music videos while writing commercials into various evolving new media and adapting accordingly. This enhanced my writing techniques to nth level.
After I completed my NYFA thesis short film- I sent it to various film festivals. I was astonished at the reception of it. In the meantime, I set up my complete production house. I was able to edit and shoot, write and do sound. So while I was writing books as ghostwriter, I started getting assignments in this brave new world of integrated and hands-on tech world.
The intel Macbook Pro saved me from the hassle of juxtaposing between Matrox, Final Cut and Adobe Production Suite (the former version of Creative Cloud). This pushed me into various opportunities with mobile production possibilities. I was free- I did not have to stick to my editing unit.
So while I traveled world- I did music videos and I found the real calling when I saw a real possibilities of telling stories without the support of studios, investors or big budgets. That has been my calling and my last documentary project ED vs IT: SOS is already in profits on Amazon Prime.
When future looks so lucrative, and the curiosity bug has bitten you deep- there is no reason to spread this epidemic. Especially, when people are ready to pay for it both as clients, audience and now on crowdfunding platforms too.
Who are your favorite artists and how have they influenced your work?What is your attitude towards art in our time period?
I would say select works of Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone and David Fincher are those that come to mind. But I feel that in lieu of the new media revolution, there are some great artists in form of Writer/Director/Producers (which has become pretty common) out there. Film has incredible potential. There is some great cinema in Europe and I am very influenced by their liberal techniques free from patterns and formats or the inclusion of sex, violence and fear.
Cinema’s potential in my view has not been tapped even to 15% until now. It is the biggest and highest form of entertainment and both in terms of art and tech- there is a tremendous responsibility, possibility and challenge that can keep pushing it to next level of perception. I still think that all we see on Netflix and Amazon are very safe. A good art is like a metaphysical experience- it keeps hitting you every time you embrace it. Like Mona Lisa, like U2’s Joshua Tree, like Natural Born Killer- it retains its magic and grows on you. Sadly, a lot we see today is disposable- which is a need of the industry in its own. Yet we can go beyond general reception and make things more creative like Felini did and free it from the artistic restraints like David Lynch does or may be Kubrick.
The bread and butter of artist is his art. And if he can sustain that. Commercial success follows it. In his lifetime or later. But that’s not the essence. The essence is the experience which the whole world is yearning as everything around us is saturating at massive pace.
What is your advice for people who want to have professional careers as artists?
In terms of anthropology, this has been the best time as art entwines tech with the help of digital. You can find everything online on You Tube, Google and Wikipedia. Every detail is described and whether it is in terms of acquiring new skills or understanding the nuances of past art forms- it’s all accessible. The tools have become very user friendly as contrary to expert friendly the way it used to be in the past.
So if you have passion and burning to desire to confess what is disturbing you in your heart- you are free to maneuver the various phases in this interconnected world and share it with a bang. Just from the comfort of your MacBook, home or backpacking around the world.
I think for me it is the ultimate luxury to be able to live and grow in a virtual world.
Just go ahead and explore your calling. Just be very curious. If things interest you there is a great deal of it out there to be explored. Millions of documentaries can teach you what you won’t find in any university or a degree. Coding will expose you to a world of infinite possibilities. No need to wait and let them say that “Youth is wasted on the Young”. There was never a luxury ever in the history of mankind where kids could adopt an idea and blow it out of proportion. Look at Google, Facebook, Amazon and many others. They were all youngsters, fresh Silicon Valley blood. Remember it is not even restricted to Silicon Valley. When you temper with your vision to enforce it on mass audience to adopt it- you are essentially an artist. Your tools may be different, your industry may be unique- but you ideology to paint a brilliant picture on a canvass will forever make you an enterprising artist. All artist are entrepreneurs. When you pick up the brush, with a fatal portrait in your head, and you manifest it even better than you thought. You just topped yourself, surprising yourself is the greatest fruition for an artist.
I sometimes critique various exhibitions in the Big Apple on the portal Arte Fuse. A whole new dimension has been unleashed for fine artists through online medium. The promotion of exhibitions to selling of art has all become suddenly very accessible. Now it is up to us, how we can deploy these resources to our advantage. Some artists take digital art as the downside for which I say is a selection perception. Tech is a tool, use it whether you are an artist or a technician. Reach out to max people through social media. It’s now or never sort of an affair today.
Where can we view your work and/or buy it?
My book can be bought on Amazon/Kindle, Automation vs. Autocracy: Robogeddon En Route. My documentary can be viewed on Amazon Prime: ED vs. IT: SOS. My music can be found on iTunes, Amazon Music and all major stores: The Atif: MJ Rock Tributes. And my film that is still in production can be found on YouTube: The Disowned under my production house name DABLAB NY.