Can you believe it's been 3 months in quarantine? It seems like March was a year in itself but the months that followed just flew by.
Where did April, May and June go? Have we been sleeping the year away?
Although, if there’s one thing that got us all through this quarantine time — it's the artists who came to the rescue.
From Ali Sethi and Bilal Maqsood’s live music sessions to Anwar Maqsood’s storytelling, Moni Mohsin’s book discussions, make up artists coming to our rescue with their tutorials and a variety of conversations and content on Instagram, we can admit being spoilt for choice.
The lockdown has also made us realise how important artists are during times like these and how we take them for granted in our normal lives. And while they bring solace to our lives, quarantine is also a time for them to unleash their creativity and have the freedom and peace of mind to concentrate on their work.
They say, when Shakespeare was quarantined as a result of the plague, he wrote King Lear.
So, if you need more motivation to write or create (you don't have to, it's not a productivity contest!), and are looking for a relatable example, look no further than our very own Abdal Mufti, a Lahore based self-taught illustrator and an educationist by profession, who is helping everyone find solace in music and illustration during long quarantine nights.
Mufti began digital illustration three years ago but has been working with oil paints and charcoal on paper for much longer.
He switched to digital illustrations because his day job required him to travel frequently and carrying his art gear with him was impossible. Since storytelling is a process that requires inspiration from the surrounding, he carried his tablet everywhere.
While most of his work is a graphical illustration, Mufti experimented by adding music to his work during quarantine and instantly became a hit!
What’s most interesting is that most of his work resonates best with some of the best music to come out of Pakistan. Till date, his illustrations have featured Iqbal Bano, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Vital Signs, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Sajjad Ali, Noori.
The first blend of this experiment featured Ali Sethi’s ‘Chandni Raat’ and shows a woman standing in front of a skyline of buildings at night. This illustration alone reached around 50,000 people.
From musicians like Ali Sethi to artists, college students and young adults, everyone began sharing his work.
The day he posts an illustration with a song, one can easily notice several people sharing it on their stories, which speaks volumes about his reach.
Mufti told Images that he doesn’t really think about followers and likes but he noticed more people engaging and resonating with his work.
“My only hope is that whoever looks at my work, finds meaning in it and I hope my efforts give them peace”.
While many may think he now creates illustrations for certain songs, Mufti's process is actually the other way around. He creates illustrations and then finds an appropriate background score for it. “I use songs to tell the story I want to tell”, he added.
What’s most interesting is that most of his work resonates best with some of the best music to come out of Pakistan.
Till date, his illustrations have featured Iqbal Bano, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Vital Signs, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Sajjad Ali, Noori,
According to him, music is another form of art, one that speaks to the soul. “If used correctly, it can help add value to any story you want to tell”, he believes.
But Mufti has gone beyond Pakistani music to add as a backdrop to his illustrations. One of his most viewed and shared works features Jagjit Singh’s mesmerizing voice and another one has U2’s famous 'With or Without You' playing behind it.
Abdal says that he always wanted to tell stories. “Music just adds a new dynamic to the story so I started using it. It is important to understand that these are not music videos or illustrations made on music, rather music helps complement the stories I try to tell”, he added.
The lockdown has also made us realize how important artists are during times like these and how we take them for granted in our normal lives. And while they bring solace to our lives, quarantine is also a time for them to unleash their creativity and have the freedom and peace of mind to concentrate on their work.
When asked what’s the inspiration behind his work, he mentioned that everyday stories that go untold and people who go unnoticed along with books that he has read or the music that he enjoys.
Although we believe listeners find some solace in his work, he’s not sure if they do or if it makes them merrier.
“People do reach out and tell me that this work helps them in the current situation and I’m thankful for that. Honestly, I just want to tell stories. But come to think of it, I think the best thing about stories and art is that it makes us feel like we belong and takes us to a different place, be it for a short time”, he told Images.
While Abdal hasn’t thought about making a music video, he’s open to it if given the opportunity. Are any singers here listening?!
Header image: Cities evolve, but it is important that they evolve in line with their spirit and culture — For the National Incubation Center Peshawar, source: Abdal Mufti Facebook.