“The storyteller who spoke with ink & paint”; in conversation with Haafiza Syed, An Artist Extraordinaire By Zareen Khan

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“Haafiza creates pulsating energy of life using ink; as a poet would using words.”

I had the pleasure of meeting Haafiza Syed through her Art, the intricate maze of genius in her work drew me in deeper. They say, God is in the details, and in Haafiza’s work the attention to details are masterfully executed. Every painting by Haafiza is a labyrinth of lines, exploring emotions and always telling a story. Her work demonstrates control and technique that only an Artist who has produced for years can exhibit. Haafiza creates pulsating energy of life using ink; as a poet would using words.

Dreaming of Science

Having Bachelor of Fine Art from, Sir. J. J. School of Art- Mumbai; I grew up with a dream of becoming a Doctor as science and medicine always fascinated me.

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Creative DNA

I was born into a family of Artist and Writers , so paints and books have been my constant companions , I think I must have been 4-5 when I picked up a brush, as I was growing up my dad filled my mind with life stories of Van Gogh , Amrita Shergil , Leonardo Da Vinci and other inspiring artists. The most prized gift I received from my Dad was his Rotring pen used for making layouts and architectural drawings.


The Family Business

Usually most of the parents want their children to become Doctors and Engineers; I , on the other hand had quite the opposite resistance from my parents, while I wanted to pursue a career in Medicine my dad had firmly decided that I would go to an Art school! It was his dream that I take up Interior Designing and follow in his footsteps – join the family business, and so I did.

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The Art came through the scribbles

I had started assisting my dad in his business of Interior designing as early as in my teens , and practiced successfully until I became a mom, I loved being a full time mom and planned to resume work once my kids got older, then my dad passed away quite suddenly and with that I lost all interest and desire to take up designing again.. . I made a few attempts to get back at my drawing board, my Dad’s Rotring pen in hand but I would end up scribbling and sketching. During one such moments of sketching random thoughts on paper I realized , that this was what I wanted to do, I started painting seriously and also started experimenting with Ink on Paper.

Ajaz Syed

My Creative Guide

The person who has supported me the most in my journey as an artist is my husband Ajaz. He has been my greatest support, my best friend, soul mate and also my biggest critic! He is not an artist himself but has a very keen interest and understanding of art and aesthetics . He has always encouraged me, guided me through his feedbacks on my work and steered me out of creative blocks on many occasions.


Music is my Muse

I usually paint in the afternoons but quite often find myself awake in the wee hours of the night ,brush in hand applying final touches to an unfinished work…. which I think most artist do. Whenever I get stuck on a painting and experience a creative block especially when I can’t think of what colour schemes to use, I listen to Franz Schubert’s Serenade and it always helps. Some of my best works have to be credited to Schubert’s music.


Ink Connection

My favorite medium to work with is Pen & Ink, working with a Rotring pen makes me feel connected to my dad, it’s like carrying forward his dream in my own little way. My subjects are mostly surreal, with spiritual undertones.


The Cliché

When people learn that I am an artist, I am typically met with this question,“ Oh! You are an artist? How wonderful! Will you paint a portrait for me “? This according to me is one of the biggest misconceptions I have encountered as an artist. Not all artists paint portraits.


Dubai welcomes Art

Dubai is a vibrant, up-to-the-minute city, a melting pot of many Nationalities, cultures and traditions and that reflects in its Art scene as well, besides that, Dubai is extremely accommodating and accepting towards all kinds of Art and Artists. There’s something for every genre and artist –professional as well as amateur.


Making the News

High point of my career would be being selected as one of the Muslima Ambassador to represent Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilization for International Museum Of Women’s ground breaking exhibiton, ‘ Muslima-muslim Women’s Art and Voices’ . The exhibition got global recognition and was featured in leading media channels, including Huffington post, Opra magazine, The Guardian, Khaleej times, Gulf News, Al Jazeera and many more .



Another high point was when I recently participated in the first edition of Art Fair Dubai 2014, along with many leading local and international galleries and artists.


Tips for Artists:-

  1. Try not to copy someone else’s art
  2. You can mimic a result but not the intellect and thought behind each work of Art. So paint from the heart the rest will be easy.
  1. Always invest in good quality paints
  2. It’s okay to take breaks from work don’t make it a race
  3. Avoid comparisons , it hampers creative growth


Where can we find Haafiza’s Work: