Hafsa Khan, aka Haf and Haf is a 28 year old artist and immigration advocate from Columbus, Ohio. She was born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Detroit, Michigan.
She is primarily a painter but also explores graphic design. Haf has been an artist for almost 15 years and an immigration advocate for 6. Haf has been working to incorporate both of her identities to produce work that reflects her hyphenated self. Her art focuses on showcasing all of her different loves- her heritage, women, fashion, romance, and faith.
What is your creative superpower?
Being able to bring feelings and memories to life. To be able to transport someone to a certain place for instance in time from my artwork.
And what feeds that creativity?
My own nostalgia but also other forms of creativity. I draw inspiration from architecture, history, poetry and fashion. I believe art is cyclical and it imitated life and vide versa.
Do you think there is a lack of value for art in Pakistan? And why?
I don’t believe there is a lack of value for art in Pakistan but I do believe that there isn’t a proper celebration for it. Celebrating art means celebrating artists, protecting artists and uplifting artists. Until the artists - and i mean all the artists, which means textile printers, block printers, clay sculptors, building painters- are properly celebrated, we won’t be able to advance in the global artist community. I want to help celebrate these people.
Do you feel like pursuing your creative field might not be able to give you the kind of financial freedom you want?
Alhumdullilah, with God's grace, I’m able to practice financial freedom with the revenue built off my art but I do believe there is a lack of funding and capital funnelled into the brown artist communities. When you buy from a South Asian artist, you’re not only supporting their craft but your also helping to lay the foundation for other artists in the space to flourish and prosper. Business literacy is key in building profit from your work and I’m a firm believer that those who’ve learned to prosper from it and build it should share the knowledge and help uplift others in the space. That starts with me.
What drives you to pursue a career that's more passion and often difficult to explain in terms of 'what do you do for a living'?
I think the drive and passion to create has really propelled me into pursuing my art more seriously. It’s definitely a difficult decision for many, and often not feasible to a lot, so I do not take it for granted. My gut brought me here. But i flourished with the support of my family and friends. Without that support system, a career in art would be very difficult.
Alot of your art is inspired by South Asian pop culture. What other cultures fascinate you?
My artist moniker is Haf and Haf. Meaning, two halves that make up my identity. South Asian culture drives my work but so does my American identity and what comes with that. Art and music and fashion would not be where they are today without the contributions of the Black American community. Whether we acknowledge it consciously or not, everything we output into the creative space is a product of Black culture and its influence. I would not have the art style that I do without paying homage to this. Hip Hop, sneakers, streetwear- all creative medium i consume and draw inspiration from is a direct output from Black creativity.
What are you currently listening/ watching/ reading?
Music and poetry is a huge part of my life and my art. A single line of poetry or a single lyric can inspire an entire painting. Right now, I’m listening to: HER, Masego, and Sir. But I’m always listening to Abi Sampa. Her music and interpretation of Qawwali has inspired me and been my muse for many pieces.
You can find Hafsa's work on www.hafandhaf.com