Wajeeha Abbasi, Illustrator & Graphic Designer

Wajeeha Abbasi comes to us from Karachi, Pakistan. We are so into the detail in the images and branding she creates with colour, shape and repetition. Oh, and her love of good music is something we're definitely on board with! Thanks Wajeeha! 

What do you do?

I am an Illustrator and Graphic Designer from Karachi, Pakistan. I work under the name ‘Wasabi Illustrations’. My illustration style is a combination of patterns, shapes and vibrant colours put together to create quirky visuals, narratives and moments from everyday life.

I also have a full time job as a Design Manager at a well-known international organization working in the development sector, which I joined a year ago. I really love it because I get to work on projects that are very diverse, from heritage and architecture to design and fashion and education. Every project is a new learning experience.

Do you have a maxim that you live and work by?

‘Never Stop exploring’ is one that I feel I can relate to the most these days. Not just in terms of exploring the world and different cultures, but also in terms of illustration and exploring new mediums and meanings visually. This also applies to my love for music. I love digging up new bands and new music.

What are the three milestones that have led you to where you stand?

  1. Completing a design degree from one of the best art schools in Pakistan. It taught me all the skills I need and gave me the confidence to put my work out for people to judge and evaluate.
  2. Quitting Advertising to focus on a more design/illustration based career. I worked in advertising for a year and realized at the right time that it doesn’t make ME happy. I decided I didn’t want to sell oil or shampoo for the rest of my life.
  3. Being selected for a full scholarship Masters degree from UAL and moving to London for it. I couldn’t have asked for more. It was an absolute joy to be a part of an amazing and talented group and learn so much. Being on my own taught me so much.

What is your dream project?

I was lucky enough to be a part of a project for NASA and Master chef Heston Blumenthal. What we created actually went “out of this world”. More than a project which has commercial value, I would love to work on the project that will actually bring in some small manner, a little bit of peace in this world.

What projects do you have in the pipeline?

Currently, I am doing a cover for a coffee table book about stamps, which is very interesting. I have another project of interpreting a Punjabi folk poem into an illustration, which is a new challenge so I am enjoying that as well as some illustrations for a personal project on metaphysical philosophy that I am planning to exhibit at some point.

If you could choose to hear any female contemporary present at Make Nice, who would it be and why?’

I would love to hear Jessica Walsh. I love her use of colour and bold shapes in her work, and her personal fashion sense is amazing. I would love to hear about what inspires her, what her process is like and what she does when she is creatively stuck.


What is the best advice you’ve been given, or wish you had been told sooner?

A teacher’s note at the end of an assignment that said, “When you write about something you are passionate about, you write from a deeper place in your heart and it connects with the reader’s heart too and that’s the best kind of writing”. This advice fits perfectly with visual art too, and it’s what I aim to do in every project now.


Do you have a supportive female network in your field? Was it always this way?

Yes! I am lucky enough to have a supportive network of amazing women from various backgrounds and fields who encourage me to push myself everyday. I think this network has developed at its own pace and I believe it is a reflection of how the young women in Pakistan have stood up and taken charge of their lives in the recent years. It is all about healthy creative exchanges and conversations about women's rights in our society. It is also a good challenge when someone pushes you to think about the restrictions or boundaries you have put on yourself subconsciously as a woman.  

What are you listening to, reading and watching of late, that is inspiring or entertaining you?

I once heard some artist say that the first thing he does when he wakes up is check Instagram because there is no negativity on it and since then I have started it too and it's actually true, plus to start your day with some creative inspiration is great. I visit Its Nice That and Brain Pickings everyday to keep myself motivated and I listen to podcasts on Radiolab, picking up random ones depending on my mood. One that I would suggest everyone to listen to is “Things”. I listen to a lot of indie music. These days I am listening to Glass Animals, The Last Shadow Puppets and Tom Chaplin’s new album The Wave.

What’s something surprising about you, that we might not know?

I really can’t think of anything.

Who would you most like to answer these questions next?

Jessica Walsh!

Can you share a creative experience that you have found defining?

I have to say when I heard Keane’s album ‘Under The Iron Sea’. I absolutely love Keane and Tim Rice Oxley. This album is not just brilliant sonically, but the album artwork created by Sanna Annuka is amazing. The overall feel of the album is so dark, dingy and fantasy-like with the music on ‘The Iron Sea’, ‘Hamburg Song’ or ‘Atlantic’. That’s my go-to album whenever I am looking for inspiration or when I need personal space.

What is one facet of your field that you want to see change?

While the field of Illustration and graphic design has so many amazing women who are brilliant at what they do and are known worldwide, somehow design education doesn’t really reflect it. Only recently have we seen names like Paula Scher, Jessica Walsh and Marian Bantjes coming forward. The well-known masters of art are all men and I hope art education researches more on women’s contribution to art and design movements and gives it its due place in art education.

How can we find our more about your work?

WEBSITE: www.wasabi-illustrations.com

INSTAGRAM: www.instagram.com/wasabi_illustrations

TWITTER: www.twitter.com/WajeehaA