Thursday, September 11, 2014

Rendezvous with Sanki King - The guy behind the smiling walls of Karachi

Bonjour my lovely readers!

Today, I bring you that which is my forte of a skill ie: an exclusive interview. Despite an entire year away from mics and cameras, I must say that the interviewer I am within me, is still all kicking and thriving.

I am pleased to feature the one & only, young and ambitious pioneer of graffiti art in Pakistan, *drum rolls*, the Sanki King in the first ever exclusive interview for our blog. I had the opportunity to meet and interview him back in Karachi and his humbleness ensures that you never forget him and if by any minor chance, you do forget him, that won't be long because he is smiling all over the city.

Photo credit : Sanki King

So, who is this Sanki King? Let me try introducing a personality whose work is a better introduction of him than the one I will come up with in words. The guy behind the title of Sanki King is actually Abdullah Ahmed Khan, a determined and creative individual who represents the ability of  the youth of Pakistan. His passion for graffiti art has led him to be loved, appreciated and respected not only nationwide but also internationally. Already a record holder for the biggest mural painted by a single artist, he is here to stay, grow and make us all even more proud in the years to come.

Today Sanki King is a widely known name in the graffiti world in Pakistan as well as abroad. His ambition is not just to hold the title of the pioneer of the art but to also create the awareness and provide the education to those who share the same passion as him but do not have the right resources to implement it.

It's sheer delight to have him here with us today. Literally, it feels like building bridges, all the way from France to Pakistan, ting!

Welcome to our blog space Sanki King! We are delighted to have you talking to us today. How are you doing and how are you feeling about being here with us?

Thank you for inviting me here. I'm delighted to be here too. I'm doing great and it's always an awesome feeling to give interviews and to connect with new audiences through them.
Our blog readers would like to read your expressions on being a pioneer graffiti artist in Pakistan and his experiences. 
I'm very humbled and blessed to be where I am and who I am today. There is years of hard work behind this one small word: pioneer, due to my positive attitude towards life and work I'm grateful that I've never had a single bad experience in this field and I've been successfully moving on and spreading graffiti art in my country.
The artist at work. Photo credit: Sanki King
 Tell us about when and how in your life did you recognize that in graffiti painting lies your true passion. And how did your family, friends and relatives react towards your decision of going professional with graffiti?

 I got introduced to Hip Hop when I was like 11 and how other elements of Hip Hop lead me to Graffiti is something like this Rap > Beat boxing > Bboying > Graffiti. I started graffiti sometime in 2006/07 and as I started learning more about it through videos, documentaries etc I felt a natural attraction to it and a voice inside me kept telling me This Is It!, and even though it seemed impossible to introduce a new art form in an entire Country especially where art is looked down upon and people are not encouraged to pursue it as a profession, my passion for art didn't let me stop. By the blessings of Allah Ive the most awesome family and group of friends who always supported me and never forced me to leave art and "Get a job.",and it's because of their faith and confidence in me which made me achieve the things that I have achieved and getting internationally recognized for.

You are a self taught artist! What were your struggles and how did you over come them?
No struggles really! I've been really good in art ever since I was a little kid and I never stopped drawing, so experimenting with newer fields of art came pretty naturally to me and learning them didn't take long. I mean, it's like when I look at a blank paper, I SEE art. It may sound crazy but I don't know how I create the things I create. It's as if my paintings and drawings are all sitting somewhere inside me and they come out one by one in the physical world when I'm in the zone. And NO, I've never used any external creativity boosters, if you know what I mean. It's all focus and hard work.
If you were not a Graffiti artist, what would have been your alternative life passion?
Someone who wants to be a graffiti artist.
When painting the town (literally) what is the ideal part of the day for you and why? Also, tell us about all the places/cities where you have done the graffiti and which one of them is your most favorite piece of work?
I paint only when I'm in the mood, art cannot be forced it comes out when it wants to come out. So for me there is no specific time. For now Ive only painted murals in Karachi but soon will be moving to other cities and countries to spread my art. My favorite piece so far is an abandoned 2 story building in an extremely busy area of Karachi and there are 2 huge windows on its first floor under which I painted a curve and now turned the whole building into a smiley face.

Graffiti art
Photo Credit : Sanki King
Prior to painting in the city, do you need permissions from authorities? If yes, have you ever had a tough time getting an approval?

There is so much illegal wall chalking in Karachi that authorities are sick and tired of them so I have painted a lot of murals without permissions and I was not stopped by anyone. As far as permissions are concerned, due to my reputation, I get invitations to do sponsored projects all the time so its all good. I'm never free.
In a city like Karachi, where you have done a great number of graffiti projects, do you feel satisfied with the maintenance of your artwork afterwards?

Well, the thing is that the murals painted on the roads cannot be looked after as properly as one would look after a mural painted inside a house or building. So I don't really care much about what would happen to the art because I obviously can't save my street murals from dust and rain. 
graffiti Karachi
Photo credit: Sanki King
In Pakistan, Graffiti art has still got a long way to go before everyone equally knows about it. Tell us if you have had any memorable experience (sad/funny/awkward) with people where they may not have understood what exactly it is that you do. Are you okay with being taken for a painter by people or do you ensure that they know you do graffiti?
So this January, I painted the 1st ever Graffiti Bus of Pakistan, one of those huge Bed ford buses and not the Mazda and I covered one side of the bus totally with LOVE KARACHI graffiti. When I initially approached the people who look after the buses of this particular route that I wanted to work on they asked me if I'm there to paint an advertisement, one of the bus drivers was like: "Hey man, why don't you paint Pepsi's logo on this bus?" and I was like I'm not a painter bro I'm an artist and I want to paint something related to love and peace. I don't mind being taken for a painter or anything because obviously as the pioneer, it's my job to educate those who don't know about graffiti. If I will act like an ego maniac then it's going to be my own loss. Whoever comes to me when I'm painting a mural and asks me about it, I try to make sure that they understand exactly what's going on so that they can go home and tell their friends and family about it.
Buses graffiti
Photo credit: Sanki King
Tell us a little about your inspirations in life.  
I'm really inspired by God, like how there are billions of people living today, billions came and billions will come and each one of them is different from the other with a unique and individual personality. And how great God himself would be whose creations do such great things, none can ever completely grasp His greatness but we try. Thoughts like these fascinate me a lot to the point where I've now made it a lifetime commitment to never stop exploring myself and to make sure that I'm away from self-destructive habits, toxic people and relationships, I've so much positivity to focus on that there is no room for negativity on any level.

Today, you are widely acclaimed for your pioneer status in the Pakistani Graffiti world and for the same on the international level as well. You have also been titled as an Unsung Hero of the country. How does that make you feel? 
I feel very humbled and things like these give me great confidence over myself because I must have taken the right measures and have made right decisions to earn so much respect and love from people, it can never happen accidentally. So if someone comes and tells me that I'm not good enough or other negative things, they would never work on me because my fruits of labor keep dropping.
Tell us about your future plans and the future of graffiti in Pakistan.

My future plans are to travel the world for exposure and connect with graffiti artists from different countries and come back to establish a school or a center where I'll teach Graffiti & Bboying to my youth. Future of Graffiti in Pakistan is OBVIOUSLY bright because the pioneer is so AWESOME!
Relaxing after a 5 hours long painting spree. Photo credit: Sanki King
What do you normally do when you are not doing graffiti?
Thinking about graffiti.
First ever sticker art movement in Pakistan.
Tell us about some dream destinations in the world where you would like to paint. 
I want to paint everywhere in the world, every place that I haven't been to yet is a dream destination.

How does being a graffiti artist help you in social situations and  what is your favorite pick up line? 

Actually I talk only when I'm spoken to and never reveal who I am until its necessary. As far as a pick up line is concerned I've never used a pick-up line and I, wait for it, ALWAYS get the number if you know what I mean. I'm very self-confident so my usual conversations are enough to melt hearts. I've never felt the need to use any pickup line.

As a Graffiti artist, have you ever came across any stereotype about your choice of profession and what has been the most awkward preconceived notion of someone towards your work?
"Graffiti will not work here, people don't have the awareness, go abroad its useless to do it here."

Tell us 5 things about you that no one else knows.
  1. I taught myself to become an ambidextrous, naturally I'm right-handed.
  2. Ive been doing yoga since I was 4, one of my uncles taught me.
  3. I smell really good, like ALL THE TIME.
  4. My typing speed is 150 wpm
  5. Ive had 4 serious head injuries since I was 5 and I still have the scars on my head. Last one was in 2011 which required 5 stitches.
Photo credit: Sanki King

Complete the following sentences:
  • I can't live without tea.
  • It breaks my heart to see immature adults.
  • I like the smell of newborn babies.
  • I do crazy things everyday.
  • People should be spiritual.
  • I never do normal things.
  • I want to meet Nikola Tesla.
  • I can eat Oval-tine everyday.
  • I wonder why people are so predictable these days?
  • My vices are anger and doing gross jokes during lunch & dinner.
  • I am fascinated by nature.
  • This world needs some common sense.
Here goes a cliche but we would really like to have you give our readers a message. Please share your life philosophy with us and our lovely readers.
My life philosophy is very simple, you are the only example of yourself that ever was, is or ever will be which proves that your existence is no accident and you have been created for a purpose which means that you are VERY SPECIAL and you should look at it as a duty to be the best example of yourself and truly Know Yourself. For that you need to explore your culture, travel, read books, connect with positive people, welcome broad mindedness, be a good listener. Days are our life in miniature and all these miniatures will create a big painting which people will see when you're alive and after you're gone, and how ugly or beautiful that painting would look depends on how efficiently and smartly you spend each day to become a better person than yesterday. 
For all those who would like to know more about you and your graffiti art, what would be the best way to connect with you?
I am very active with all my social media and I ensure to post regular updates of my work projects. You can learn more about me and connect me through any of the following social media platforms.

Merci beaucoup Sanki King for your time and cooperation as well as for the wonderful photo courtesy. Keep spreading colors all around the world! My city, Bordeaux, is missing your sign on its walls. Hope to see a smiling wall soon here in France, ting!