Though Safa enjoys her work, she'd rather not make a career out of it.
Though Safa enjoys her work, she'd rather not make a career out of it.

Don't we all love to own customised things? Always on the hunt to stand out and experiment with accessories, shoes, handbags, even clothes.

Well, Safa Shahzad's got you covered. The 19-year-old artist works on a unique canvas: denim jackets.

She came under the radar when she reached out to people for her artwork on Twitter: "Hey I paint on jackets, give your girl a lil' rt so she can get some clout," read the tweet accompanied with two of her designs.

How did this idea com to her?

"The idea of painting on jackets came to me ever so randomly; it was like a strong pull," she tells Images.

But in order to test the idea she had to destroy one of her jackets and paint on it - the result was stunning. "I went with a skull of a dragon, black and white surrounded by four roses. And after I posted it on Instagram, people adored it, they wanted one for themselves. And that’s when I decided to make money out of it."

However, Safa wasn't strictly inclined towards the arts when she was younger. She says, "I was a strange kid with an active imagination, always scurrying around hunting peculiar creatures. Studying the animals around me, always trying to draw them on every surface I found. I studied science with the aspiration of becoming a veterinarian one day but unfortunately that dream died. Alongside the active search for truth, I made art."

Residing in Islamabad, Safa says she also gets international orders for hand-painted denim jackets. And she is mindful to include a note of instructions when sending off the package so the customer knows how to care for the jacket.

"It usually takes me a few days to complete one jacket, if I'm not feeling too lazy. After it’s done I wrap it up with a little note and instructions on how the buyer can keep it in mint condition without ruining the paint, and send it on its way. It’s washable, but with a few precautionary steps. And yes, I take in pre-owned jackets too!"

Safa's designs are purely her own, "except for two jackets (the fox and the snake design belong to artist Lauren Marx and the roses in the ribcage was from a picture I found on pinterest), all the other designs and paintings I’ve made are mine," she says.

It's because these designs are entirely from her imagination that Safa is able to have fun and add her twist to them. "I don’t know what to classify my art as. I don’t want to stick to one category either. I’m always searching, and experimenting with different subject matter, to the point the actual painting looks absurd and illogical. But that’s why it’s fun. The whole process of creating is nothing but fun and magic!"

She adds, "My art style has frequently changed over the past several years, but I never took anything too seriously. Myths and fantasy greatly influence most of my bigger works, like Mother Of The Jungle, which is by far one of my most favorite art piece I've ever made."

Safa admits that the hardest part of the process is finding the right denim for her work. "One thing that really ticks me off is finding good quality denim jackets to paint on, and having enough! In every colour, and size. You never know what the commissioner would want."

"My prices start from Rs7,000, but it usually depends on the design the client wants." The price range varies based on "the design, how complicated it is or how much time and materials it’s consuming."

"And yes, people try and bargain all the time. But art shouldn’t be given away for less than its worth. If they don’t understand that then that isn’t a problem I’m going to deal with. Simple. And no, so far, thank God all of my commissioners have been satisfied with whatever I’ve created for them."

Though Safa enjoys her work, she'd rather not make a career out of it.

"Honestly, I wouldn’t want to do this as a full time job. It's hard work. I don’t know what will become of this, or where it will go. But I have trust in the great plan. Everything will fall into place. I will get there."

And her parents "have been nothing but supportive of me and I truly appreciate them for it. And as for ‘society’, not many get the gist or the value of art, but that’s not who I create what I create for."

For now she's going to make use of social media as a platform to market herself and other ideas she has in mind. "The world is progressing; it’s been thinned down with social media and it has brought my art an audience. I’ve got some uncanny plans, and tons of bizarre ideas. I’ll let the world see when the time is right."