Saher Sohail has taken over the realm of social media in a matter of months. The US-based artist and aspiring medic, who goes by the name of The Pakistani Martha Stewart, has gained a following of more than 40,000 people, looking to her art as a means of expression.
The 24-year-old who lives in Washington DC has even started selling her witty art on t-shirts and phone covers after getting multiple requests.
Of her Pakistani origin, she says:
“My parents are from Lahore, Pakistan and are your typical Punjabi parents. My upbringing was very conservative and strict. At times I felt like I had a dual identity, one identity that was Pakistani and the other American. It wasn’t until recently I found some equilibrium between the two.”
We had the opportunity to talk to The Pakistani Martha Stewart and find out about her art, intriguing choice of alias and her family’s reaction to her talent!
Why did you choose this form of art, what was the inspiration behind it?
I find joy in being able to make satirical comics about the woes of South Asian girls like myself who deal with extremely similar problems growing up. At first, my comics were all about fun and light-hearted jokes. Only recently have I started touching serious topics that are taboo in our society and hope to continue to do more. The images I make are all digital, something I create during my free time. Whether I have a break at work, in a sitting room, in the passenger seat of a car or when I want to relieve myself of stress.
You only started posting the work in August last year. Why do you think you gained popularity so fast?
It happened all so fast that I can’t seem to pinpoint a certain time where it may have taken off. The first platform I put out my first few works up was Tumblr. I decided to break out of my shell and put out the pieces on my personal Instagram which was public at the time and it took off from there! I think there is a huge south Asian audience that really wants to be able to have a canon of pop art, literature and so much more. A sort of genre that they can have for themselves and be able to relate to personally.
What have people’s responses been so far?
It’s been great, all positive! So I’m happy about that.
What pushed you to start printing t-shirts and phone covers of your artwork?
Honestly, if in the beginning of 2016 you told me I’d be putting out t-shirts or phone covers with my work on it, I would laugh at you. It was all my fans. I would be getting emails, direct messages, comments. It was endless. At one point, I got so tired of hearing about it, I decided to put in some work and research how I could make this happen and here I am now.
Do you have any other initiatives you’re working on, what do you hope to do in the future?
I think “Thepakistanimarthastewart” is an alter-ego of mine, that I can use as a platform to get out my crazy inner imaginations, my frustrations as a south Asian girl growing up in the United States or affirmations of ideas and political ideas that I truly believe in. It’s fun, its stress relieving. My career choice will still be in medicine. I hope to continue to put out more works under my alias and give my audience what they really want.
What does your family think of the creations since they can be quite thought-provoking?
Surprisingly, my mum will be the one giving me ideas for some creations. Especially for my more comical works. In fact, my mum is the source of my inspiration. Growing up in a loud Punjabi household, you get the food for thought nearly every day.
Saher uses the alias “The Pakistani Martha Stewart” on Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr. She said the origin of the name comes from inside jokes between her sister and college friends.
Upon being well known for her talent in creative crafts, throwing themed parties and “being over-the-top” her friends and sister coined her as the “Pakistani version” of Martha Stewart. Since then the name was coined “The Pakistani Martha Stewart” and she has ‘grown attached to it!’
—Unzela Anna Khan, Correspondent (Art)