Hazem Ameen Ahsan is a freelance artist from Kerala whose work largely focuses on character art and narrative illustrations. Going by the tag “caninebrush”, a moniker he came up with when he learned that prehistoric people used canine teeth to carve drawings into rock, Hazem discovered digital art through the work of Izzy Medrano (a concept artist who worked on the God of War game series) and realised that being an illustrator was a viable career choice that balanced all his interests.
Looking at Hazem’s gallery of illustrations, all the pieces are rooted in fantasy or mythology with a mystical folk vibe that immediately transports the viewer to a world of creatures and magic with a promise of adventure. On asking him to describe his personal art style, he says, “Every artist has an art style, and it usually is the result of all their collective influences and visual inspirations. I could not explain why my art looks the way it does anymore that can explain what makes me myself.” He does mention that his approach to each project is based on timelines, and a faster method may give rise to a “new style” just due to the circumstances.
While he draws inspiration from other artists, art forms, and video games, the larger sources are books, both fiction and non-fiction. It comes as no surprise when he claims to be influenced by history, mythology, and religion while creating his digital art/ illustrations. As an artist, being obsessive about something that isn’t art is a great way to find a well of inspiration. Aesthetically, fantasy literature such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones has inspired Hazem to create his own worlds through his own cultural sphere, which bridges his interests, giving him a unique voice when contributing to the genre.
A huge fan of the ideation phase, Hazem visualises his concepts before putting pen to paper to help with any creative blocks. He is a line-drawing centred artist who sketches the entire concept before approaching colour and details, always using any references to help the project flourish. His art career includes working on RPG tabletop games for companies like Paizo, Petersen Games, Chaosium, and Creative Assembly; an online game titled “Vainglory”; and the 3DTotal book series.
Hazem holds great appreciation and hopes for the concept art industry in India. While there is always room for growth, he is confident that with the accessibility of art resources today, many Indian artists will use their heritage and distinctiveness in today’s vast global art market to stand out. Only half-joking, the effects of the pandemic had not changed his routine much as “artists have been social- distancing from others long before Covid”. He went on to say, “This pandemic, though terrible for many of those unfortunate, has helped me focus and finish a lot of work, get some jobs and even set up a personal studio.”
We threw a bit of a curveball question to Hazem, where if aliens invaded and he could only save the world through art – who would he choose to be by his side? He drafted his artist friend (Aniruddha Khanwelkar), who he claims represents the human condition and his mentor, Even Mehl Amundsen who guided Hazem’s journey as an artist. It goes to show that when it’s all said and done, the support of a community and a guide will always be valuable.
Hazem is excited to explore and experiment with different storytelling methods within books, graphic novels, video games, and animated films in the future. We can safely say that we are excited to see more of his fantasy world-building and riveting characters in the days to come.
Published in Issue 52
The pandemic has brought many different challenges for everyone. But educating our young ones is among the top priority. The issue focused on how design education is still possible while most of us are locked in our homes. We also interacted with illustrators and photographers such as Jasjyot Singh Hans and Anirudh Agarwal, who seem to stand firm with their uniqueness in this time of chaos. Overall this issue serves food for thought with visually stunning creativity on a single platter.
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