Hashim Ali: an award-winning visual storyteller

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For the 32-year-old artistic director, Hashim Ali, no idea is impossible to realize. In fact, the bigger and more ready to go, the better.

“There are Nope box!” Ali laughed, as he sat in a relatively quiet cafe in Gulberg, Lahore. Dressed in a deep blue cotton tunic and trousers, Ali’s eyes lit up when he talks about art, books and especially spirituality.

Having worked for some of Pakistan’s biggest names, from fashion to film and music, Ali has a penchant for creating sets that are not only visually stunning, but also intricate – his eye for detail is evident right down to the very last minute. last pin.

“We create the box, it simply does not exist. What exists is you and the inspiration you have. You have to see the full range of possibilities when trying to create something. And then, of course, you’ll have to wait and watch to see what happens.

Beginning his career in 2010, Ali is today the reference person for the execution of storytelling and fantasy decors. In fact, he was the creative brain — as production designer and art director — behind Coke Studio’s viral music video Pasoori, released earlier this year.

Attributing his foray into the arts through his teachers in Rome, Italy, where his father was stationed when Ali was just 13, the artist reveals that without his years in Rome, his life would have been completely different.

“My teachers couldn’t understand why I was pursuing science studies when I had a strong inclination for the arts,” he says, “I remember my Italian art teacher once said; Hashim, these subjects are what your parents have chosen for you, but what you choose for yourself? It was then that she encouraged me to apply to the National College of Arts (NCA), Lahore, when I came back.

Even though his family wanted him to be a doctor, Ali fought to go to the NCA after a “very tough battle”. But it was a decision he knew he absolutely had to make.

Once in college, he felt like a “kid in a candy store.” From studying science to the limitless possibilities of the artistic mediums available to him, Ali remembers being in his element at the NCA. So much so that he couldn’t help but approach even the smallest class assignment with incredible excitement and gratitude.

“I have always been that student who then extra,” laughs Ali, “My classmates hated me for that! For example, once we had to make a board game for a history assignment (which was about the Silk Road). It was for ten marks. While everyone was making board games on graph paper, I hand-sewed an entire quilt in less than 24 hours because I thought to myself, why would someone traveling the Silk Road wear a board game ? It’s stupid! They would wear a duvet! And they would use pillows as dice! People in the class thought I was crazy. Even the teacher was like, it was not necessary!

Passionate about collecting puppets (a hobby he has had since he was a child), reading, Ali has a fascinating personality that not only has elements of childlike innocence, but also a pragmatic aspect deeply rooted in her personality. sensitization. And much like his love for storytelling through his work, Ali finds meaning in being aware of the experiences, dreams and coincidences he weaves together to create a sense of inner understanding and his role in the grand scheme of things.

For example, there are books that acted as messengers for Ali, strange synchronicities, and full-circle moments in his career that both grounded him and gave him patience.

“No matter what’s going on in my life, I always tell myself that there must be a reason behind it. God is always watching and I think that in some way this idea has made me survive both in my personal life and in the industry I work in… the notion that everything will turn out like this should,” he says.

“When I approach projects, I see them as teamwork, as a ‘we’ rather than an ‘I’. Over the years, I’ve had people stab me in the back in the industry, but I’m not saying anything because it’s their background, and it’s mine. Where my journey begins and where it ends, I don’t know. It’s in the hands of God.

Currently in the midst of a few projects that Ali is keeping secret with a glint in his eye, the artist, while extremely methodical in his approach to his projects, prefers to stay “spontaneous” about the final product. It excites him.

“Personally, I think all artists are storytellers. The support may be different, but it is still a story. I like to be fluid and intuitive in my work. It is a learning process after all.

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