I first was introduced to Jasmin’s unique approach to imagery with colours and patterns when she premiered her captivating art collection “The Bolly-Hood Series” at the 140 BPM Exhibition - I’ve since been a fan of Jasmin’s vividly hued pieces. We recently caught up with Jasmin to find out more about her world of colour and how music plays a part in her inspiration - read her interview below.
Where did you grow up? Has your childhood influenced your artistic style?
“I grew up in Wembley, North West London. My childhood consisted of music and the visual arts. It’s in the Sehra blood, my whole family has been blessed with the creative and musical gene. However I’m the only one to have studied the arts from school to university level.
My Dad used to draw back in the day, his artwork is wicked; I definitely drew inspiration from his pieces. My childhood definitely influenced my path but it was during sixth form where my brother introduced me to the music I listen to today. He’s a music producer and the man behind Jidenna’s Classic Man! That introduction to his playlist is what planted the seed which continues to blossom.”
When did art become an interest of yours?
“Growing up with the arts around me it has always been an interest, it’s in my blood. My parents both encouraged the arts with me and my siblings, both visually and musically through instruments in and out of school. I remember my parents buying us different art materials, we had a box full of it!”
Hip-Hop and Grime influences a lot of your work, what do those genres mean to you?
“I would say Hip-Hop is the predominant genre that influences my work alongside Bollywood and Indian culture that I grew up with. It was actually Big Pun’s Capital Punishment that really set my interest in Hip-Hop, his lyricism was astounding. But even artists like Kid Cudi helped me through anxiety and depression during university. There’s something for everyone in Hip-Hop; its base is about the knowledge, art and musicality through sound and words. You find that relationship by connecting to its various pillars and for me it was just that.”
What’s your favourite era of the genre [Hip-Hop]?
“I sway more towards Hip-Hop from the 90s. I can’t say that I do have a solid favourite era. To me it’s all about musicality and lyricism, how I connect to a song at that moment, there’s something for everything and everyone. There are songs and artists from the golden era to now whose production is crazy from lyrics to sound. I think there’s definitely beauty in all because it’s so diverse. I find myself listening to Bahamadia, to CYNE, to Common then Kanye and artists like Casey Veggies. It’s not just about Hip-Hop though, Soul, R&B, Reggae, Bollywood music and Ghazals have my heart too.”
You’re putting a project together with Arfa Butt based around Hip-Hop - “London Masalaa”. Tell us about that, what would you like to see the project become?
“Arfa and I both come from musical backgrounds; Hip-Hop and the motherland connected us both and we felt that we needed to create a platform for other South Asian women and girls just like us. The project is an exhibition of story telling through visuals, sound and other art forms. We envision it becoming a touring platform creating a unity and building relationships with female artists all over the world.”
Your work was recently featured at the 140 BPM exhibition - “The Bolly-Hood Series”, what does that collection mean to you?
“This series is all about two cultures that I grew up with - Punjabi / Indian culture and the music I grew up listening to which was predominantly Hip-Hop. I wanted to highlight features of both cultures and I did this by portraying messages through Bollywood inspired typographical lyrics and words. I am an artist from the diaspora, this is my vision and through art I’m able to pull together areas of my life that are important to me and share it with people who don’t necessarily know much about my culture.”
What is the relation between visual and music for you? Why is it so important?
“Music and visuals go hand in hand. Visuals tell a story you can see whilst music is a story you can hear pairing them together results in a crazy sensory vision. It’s universal, it’s important because the visuals set lyrical ideas in stone, you can manipulate the words visually and it can tell the story in a completely different way. You can translate it literally or ambiguously ultimately the canvas is your playground. The beauty of both visual and music is that the viewers and listeners of the artwork can interpret the connotations in their mind however they please. It’s crazy because everyone is different.”
You incorporate a lot of colour and imagery within your pieces, where do you draw inspiration from?
“My love for pattern and colour and incorporating it within my work began during university when I saw my parent’s photographs in Mexico, those photographs changed my life. Not only were the compositions on point, their graphic colourful patterned and graphic clothing from the 80s/90s spoke to me, and my mother wearing her wedding bangles with her outfit had me mind blown. They opened my eyes by linking two cultures together. Even their cassette collection had me amazed- the graphics were mad. Besides this, patterns in nature and traditional pattern work from the motherland, photography and moving image inspire me hugely as well. Theres just so much around us!”
You studied at LCC, do you feel that has impacted your approach to art?
“I wouldn’t say it did massively. It definitely pushed me and my craft in the right direction. But ultimately it isn’t the university syllabus that’s going to get you anywhere it’s how you apply it. In my opinion I believe that it’s catered for the “traditional” illustrator or designer. It’s all a system, the only impact is yourself.”
Your art work is very portraiture focused, what is it about that form of art that you’re drawn to?
“When I started to merge music within my art, I initially began with hyperreal graphite drawings. I just loved how you were able to portray facial pores, wrinkles and hairs with a pencil. But I wanted to tell more of their story and mine through colour and pattern and that’s when I started painting with acrylics. Portraiture has my heart because I love how you’re able to achieve that realisticness through different mediums. Through paint and skin tones - it’s just like drawing but with a brush.”
How would you describe the creative scene in London?
“So unique and thriving. There are so many creatives across the board doing their own thing and it’s inspirational to see a lot of them build worldwide too. London has something unique to offer and especially within the last few years it’s been on a rapid rise. Most recently we’ve had Swizz Beatz’s come to London with No Commission and of course music artists like Drake supporting the U.K. Grime scene. There is a lot of integration between the different arts, but when it comes to diversity, I don’t see a lot of South Asian artists on the map. We are rising steadily though.”
You can follow Jasmin Sehra through her various platforms - jasminsehra.com, Insta & Twitter @jasminsehra or on her digital journal paradisegirl.co.uk to see her creative thoughts and visions. - “I usually create original artwork or photographs that tie in with what my blog posts are about.” And make sure you keep an eye out as Jasmine’s currently working on her first collection of Paradise Girl clothing.