From boredom to hobbyist comic artist.
Khinsa Fairuz Zahirah, better known as @khinsafrz on Instagram, is a final year Industrial Engineering student who also spends her time making comics and posting them online.
“On weekdays, I keep myself busy with academic work, organisations and clubs. [During] the weekend, I join volunteering activities such as teaching underprivileged students, holding charity events, or any other voluntary activities. In between [those commitments], I engage with my hobbies: drawing things and reading books.”
With the Covid-19 situation, everyone is advised to stay home and her classes are fully online now. It has changed her routine quite a bit. Now, her spare time is filled with joining online discussions and supporting online campaigns.
But she still finds the time to engage with her hobbies, of course. Through an email interview, Khinsa shares her thoughts on creating art and putting them online.
How did your initial interest in art come about?
I have been interested in art since I was a kid. The five-year-old me was fascinated by how lines, shapes, and colours can bring so much joy, and I wanted to do the same.
One time, when I was in early elementary school, I even made my own storybook, complete with its poorly drawn illustrations and texts.
As I grew up, I found art as a safe place. I wrote poetry, wrote short stories, doodled random things here and there, made short movies, all to express myself. Until now, I love doing art, although it stays as a hobby.
What made you start posting your art in the style of comic strips and short videos?
It started in December 2016, when I was really bored during the holiday, and thought that maybe I could share stuff on my personal account. So I thought, what should I make? My first shared art should be good, right? I could make a detailed drawing that would take me hours or even days to finish, but I personally don’t enjoy making detailed things. What do I enjoy? Doodling and writing.
So I say, screw what people think. I’m making doodles with a short story attached to it, and there you go: comic strips.
On some days when I had more free time, I had my attempt to bring the comic to life by making short stop-motion-based videos.
Talk us through the process of making your comics.
Assuming I already have an idea, the first thing I would do is deciding how many panels there would be and choosing a set of colours.
After that, I write and place the dialogues in the panels. It helps me have a sense of the storyline and a broad view of what gestures/expressions would be drawn on each panel.
Then I proceed with the background (if any), mostly they are daily-life objects.
After that, I start to put in the characters, drawing their gestures and expressions.
Lastly, I put the speech bubble for the dialogue, following the character’s position. That’s it, one comic ready to be shared!
You seem to speak about a myriad of topics through your work. How do you pick and choose what to share or make into art?
When I shared my first comic strip, it is only to achieve one goal: to share happiness. My early comic strips were all personal funny stories. However, as it got more attention and I got less funny moments to share, I started to bring in the ‘how to’ content sometimes. Lastly, since I am a Muslim and I got many Muslim followers, I also find a burden to create Muslim-related content. Until now, my account is filled with those three big topics: funny or relatable stories, ‘how to’ and Muslim-related content.
You chose to share your work through Instagram, which is a relatively recent platform. With increased contact between artists and followers, do you find your art shifting to cater to your followers more?
Although there is an increase in contact between me and my followers, I did not find my art shifting to cater to them more. My art style does develop slightly from when I started but it doesn’t have anything to do with catering to my followers. I just do whatever makes me happy.
With encouraging isolation due to the current pandemic, how do you stay inspired to keep creating?
Coronavirus has restructured almost all elements of our everyday lives with isolation, leading to some of us growing bored or even frustrated. During this period, it is important to see the silver lining and stay inspired. For me, since my main source of inspiration is my personal stories, keeping in touch with my friends is one way to get inspiration and the strength to keep creating.
How would you like to inspire others?
I’d like to inspire people to create and share whatever they want and not be afraid of what others might think. All work of art has its own audience. No matter how bad you think it is, there is always someone somewhere out there that would love your work. Never stop creating, don’t be afraid of sharing.