Creativity Series - Zakee Shariff

1st February 2018

Joseph Beuys asserted that everyone, yes everyone, is an artist. And we couldn’t agree more. This autumn Bob Books are recognising one of the most important aspects of human nature- our creativity. Whether we are making, doing, being or imagining something, our creative selves need to be nurtured and put on display- imagine a world without it! In this series, we highlight people working in different industries, from architects to designers to stylists, all creative in their own distinctive way. Each interview gives an insight into the creative process and how this is facilitated in their everyday. 

This week we interviewed artist and designer Zakee Shariff.

Can you tell us a bit about your practice and give us your background?
I run a creative practice where I use my drawings and paintings to make fine art and textiles for a ladies clothing collection. That are sold direct on my webstore by appointment, and through galleries and stores globally. My work is about empowerment, healing  and I am interested in inspiring an emotional response to my work. 
Do you feel you have a clear creative process? Or is this something more fluid? 
It’s fluid but having run my practice for over 20 years now I think there is a process that I follow. The art always comes first and inspires most of what I do. But I tend to work quite intuitively. The seasons of the fashion calendar means that some of my fashion work is dictated by the season and while other works just flow throughout the year. 

Where do you draw inspiration from? More broadly and day to day, is this different? 
My spirituality, healing ability, travel, street culture, and music.  
How do you avoid falling into automatic mode? I don’t think I ever do. 
What routines do you find helpful in keeping your creative side stimulated? 
Getting into nature and meditation, yoga always grounds me back to my creative side. Travel is always a good thing to shake it all up too. Sometimes just getting out of one's normal space is stimulating. 

Why is creativity important in your role, what environment does it best thrive in? Do you need a quiet space or loud music? Do you need to be alone to be productive? 
I have always been creative and I also knew that I wanted to help people heal emotional pain because I am a deeply empathetic. I’ve always wanted to bring these sides of myself together and I seemed to have found a way of doing this in some way. 
I thrive best in a space with light and warmth and empty space. I am very focused when I work so I can be very quiet. But when I’m screen printing or painting I llike loud music. I just don’t do much talking when I’m working. But I’m good at leading a team to create a vision. AndIi love to art direct and collaborate with other people too. 

What did you want to do as a child? Be a dancer and an artist 
Can you tell us about something you have coming up? 
I'm working on a new body of fine art with my friend Nick Shipton that we will be exhibiting in galleries. And I’m creating my new AW18 ladies collection that we will sell in Deburay, and I deliver my SS2018 ladies collection to my personal clients and stores here in the UK, Dubai USA and Australia this year too. 
Images 1 and 3 copyright photographer Jessica Seargent, all others Zakee Shariff