Master’s in Criminology and Forensic Studies student, Ms Anira Umra, will be showcasing a selection of her best artworks at Comic Con Africa in Johannesburg in September.
Comic Con Africa is a three-day event showcasing comic books and science fiction/fantasy related to film, television and similar popular arts. The exhibition will also feature a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including animation, toys, gadgets, clothing, collectible card games, table-top games, anime, manga, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.
Umra, ecstatic to hear that Comic Con will be coming to Africa, applied on their website. Her portfolio was reviewed and accepted by art curators to be showcased at the convention. She will have her own stand at the artist alley with her art on display for the public to see and interact with.
While Umra has a passion for all forms of art, she is inspired by comic books, rock music and tattoo style art. Her art ranges from sketch art to canvas paintings in which she uses a number of different mediums such as charcoal, pencil, ink, aquarelle and as of recently acrylic paint, spray paint and food colouring. ‘Considering that one of the popularities of comic books date back to World War II, in a time of despair, the inspiration of comic book superheroes gave people hope with their many stories of good overcoming evil. I think this essence remains today. There’s something amazing and hopeful about comic books, especially when some of the characters are born out of tragedy or misfortune and some are just regular people doing the extraordinary. It’s a wonderful playground for the mind,’ she said.
Umra is also a fan of classic rock music, often portrayed in her art. ‘Classic rock band logos were some of my favourite things to draw. And well, body art is an intriguing concept all on its own. As a researcher, I often used art as a relaxation method; a way to clear my mind to think better,’ she said.
Her inspiration comes from artists such as Tim Burton, Charles Glaubitz, Jim Lee, Brian Bolland, Lee Bermejo, Philip Tan and Douglas Mahnke.
Umra never had any formal art training nor did she take art in school. Her passion began as a hobby where she’d draw cartoon characters for her teachers or pictures for her family.
‘My parents have always encouraged me, I was even given permission to spray paint a wall in my room. Not many kids can say that. They have also allowed me to put up my art everywhere in our home, including our dining area. My grandparents, my sister, my aunts have always supported and encouraged my art. To my family, I could never draw a bad picture. They are my biggest supporters,’ said Umra.
‘Just, don’t stop,’ she urged aspiring artists. ‘I taught myself almost every technique I use through trial and error. If you love something, don’t ever give up on it. You definitely can be a full-time student and follow anything else you may be passionate about. It’s just always important to strike that balance. There were periods where I couldn’t draw for months during my Master’s research, but whenever a break came, it was the first thing I’d do. Speaking from experience, it is of dire importance to have those little breaks from university life and have something that you can do you to relax or de-stress,’ she added.
Umra hopes her art will lead to bigger and better projects and events in the future. She is keen to enter art competitions but is content to use her art for self-expression.
You can follow Anira Umra and her art on social media via https://www.instagram.com/aniraumra.art/
Photographer: Melissa Mungroo