Humairah Shams is a calligrapher, graphic designer, workshop instructor and self-proclaimed wildflower. She is the co-founder of Made with Love, a Bangladeshi stationery brand she started with her sister. Guba Publishing is proud to have collaborated with this bright young talent from Dhaka- Check out her interview below and #BeInspired !
Humairah illustrating Where in the World? A-Z Flashcards for Guba Publishing in 2017.
How different is your educational background from what you do?
In terms of being a designer, there’s absolutely no overlap. However, I’ve studied business administration from BRAC University, majoring in marketing and e-commerce. Since we operate online exclusively, you’d think my majors would help me apply some of that knowledge to my work, but there hasn’t been much I could relate to in terms of modern day application yet.
Humairah conducting a calligraphy workshop.
Where did you learn artwork/what do you think inspired it?
I’ve dabbled into painting when I was a little girl, but calligraphy is something I’ve been doing for 4 years now. My calligraphy actually stemmed from an attempt to get better at handwriting! 4 years on, I still have terrible handwriting but a new art-form I absolutely love!
Humairah’s signature style
How does an artist manage the hurdles of business entrepreneurship?
I’ll let you in on a little secret, it takes two!
I absolutely could not have started without my sister, Sarah, helping me with operations. We scout and speak to vendors together, but she handles the customer interactions and the deliveries while I handle the designing process.
What is your working process?
Planning is actually the biggest part of the whole creative process. I sit with my sister, we decide on new themes, colors and patterns we want to work with. This brainstorming can go on for weeks. Once we’ve decided on our themes, I start working with paint and traditional media first, then move to scanning and adding all the digital elements. The whole process of designing usually takes about a few weeks before it’s ready for printing.
Planning is key!
What role does the artist have in society?
Okay so like, I know people make a big deal about labeling themselves as “artists” but if you ask me, there’s a little bit of an artist in everybody. It comes in different forms, but it’s there. And I really think that needs to be nourished, and nurtured not for the skill, but for joy and for our own mental health. So for me, the role of the artist is to spread joy and help us express ourselves. If we’re lucky, we can help inspire someone else to do something they love just as much.
What art do you most identify with?
Florals for sure. I’m heavily inspired from artists who work with stationery and florals, like Rifle Paper Co., Katie Daisy and The Ink Bucket.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I think it’s definitely the creative freedom; being able to experiment, design things that make us happy. Seeing that it makes others just as happy really makes it all worthwhile!
What’s your favorite art work and why do you think you’re attracted to it?
It’s absolutely impossible to pick a favorite. I just can’t. Nope.
But I will say, what draws me to my favorites are the colors, compositions and techniques that make up the piece!
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
In terms of art, nature inspires me the most. I love soaking in landscapes, sunsets and different botanical elements from everywhere I go!
In terms of goals, I attended a watercolor workshop last year by Peggy Dean, an artist I absolutely adore, and just seeing her in her element, sharing her knowledge and spreading so much joy, I knew that that was absolute #goals!
With artist and calligrapher, Peggy Dean.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
We usually host an event once a year, so people can come and check out our new releases in person. We get an overwhelming amount of love and support every time! Their reactions are what makes it all worthwhile; the look on their faces, everyone is so pleased that our stuff is made locally, it really keeps us going.
What is your dream project?
Oh there are so many! I’d definitely say illustrating a children’s book is on my top 3. I’m not sure if it counts as a project but I also want to expand on taking workshops beyond Dhaka (Maybe even beyond Bangladesh?) Go big or go home, right?