Mariam Tafsiri’s illustrations reflect her cultural identity and upbringing. Born and raised in London, she comes from an Iranian family and admits to being brought up feeling a strong connection to Iranian culture. This also meant being introduced to Persian art, which would later inspire her creative work.
According to Tafsiri, her illustrations—most of which portray unibrowed women positioned in a natural setting—are inspired by Qajar art, Persian miniature paintings, and Islamic designs. “My interest in Qajar art developed at an early age, taking inspiration from the unibrowed women who present a very different concept of beauty to that regularly portrayed in the West,” she further explained in an interview with Girlsclub Asia.
In terms of style, Tafsiri says that she’s open to experimentation with different techniques, exploring different creative voices. “I’ve really been focusing on experimenting with styles and techniques over the past year so I’d love to finally find ‘my style'”, she notes. “Once that settles down I’ll be able to focus more on the attention and detail that goes into my work.”
Still, she admits, she’s happiest when drawing people and portraits, with women portraits the main focus of her work. “My drawings had always been realistic portraits which would take me hours to do but moving towards illustration has allowed me to draw more often and more quickly in a variety of styles,” says Tafsiri. “I work full time in another job so I just love being able to have something to channel my creativity.”
A full-time economist, Tafsiri’s illustrations have gained attention on Instagram, allowing her more time to develop her style. Social media also had an added bonus for the young creative: introducing her to a community of artists. “I’ve found Instagram has been a wonderful way for me to discover other female artists, in particular, middle eastern artists whose work I can really relate to,” she reflects. “Their work really resonated with me and encouraged me to be a part of this community.”
We can’t wait to see where she’s headed to next!