When we were growing up, a large part of our young adult narrative revolved around the question of identity, especially with regards to the influences on our everyday life from our Punjabi and British cultures. Unfortunately, we learned to keep these two cultures separate from one another. For example, when wearing our jeans or t-shirts, it never crossed our mind to style the look with our Desi jewellery or shoes etc, and vice versa. 'Being' Punjabi was something that we embraced at home and on the weekends at a wedding of some distant relative, or a function of some Aunty from the Gurudwara.
Today, when we look around us and see younger South Asian women and men proudly embracing their culture into their daily life, (from style music or art etc) we feel incredibly inspired. One such young woman is Jasmin Sehra who, with her personal style and 'BollyHood' poster series, shows us how bringing two cultures together can quite literally be a work of art.
Tell us about Jasmin Sehra and 'Paradise Girl'
Creativity is something I've been surrounded by my whole life. I come from a family of musicians and artists; we always had classical musicians round our house for mehfils or someone drawing or photographing. My Dad and his siblings were students of the great Ustad Tari Khan, so as a student and surrounded by classical music, you imagine my Dad has a collection of ghazal cassettes. Alongside my mothers old Bollywood cassettes, their collection is an archive of sound as well as visuals. My parents and creative upbringing have inspired me in many ways including their fashion- that's what heightened my love for 80s/90s graphics.
I like to think of my wardrobe as a visual library, I love vintage clothes because the aesthetics are amazing- Old is Gold. One day I was looking through them and Paradise Girl came to mind, I don't know why but at that moment I had this feeling of excitement and nervousness, something I hadn't really felt before. It was birthed through what I embody as a person. To me it signified so much. Paradise is a place of happiness and greatness. It connects a lot to my journey growing up, wanting to be in an idyllic place of inner peace and serenity. Something I'm sure so many can relate to.
Paradise Girl is about growth, nature, unity, love and a worldwide sisterhood. The logo is a palm tree and hibiscus flower, not only are they my favourite plants but together it symbolises growth, beauty, victory. I later started a blog under this name, sharing my journey and stories for others to connect to. Paradise Girl has only just begun and I'm excited for it's growth.
What challenges do you face on a day-to- day basis in your line of work?
I definitely had a hard time connecting to my peers in university, I felt like an outcast at times, even as a teenager. It's only been within the last few years where I've grown to appreciate me, my heritage and my work. I have a better understanding of who I am. Uncomfortable situations is what shapes you and its a blessing. Being different and doing different is what's beautiful- trust the journey always.
If you had to, what would you get tattooed on your forehead?
Could I have three? Haha!
The Paradise Girl motto, of course- "Embrace and Flourish"; Embrace your journey, embrace your being, from this you will flourish. And "Serve and Protect Yourself; believe in you and your vision, stay in your lane. Also, 'Old is Gold' because it's our foundations that make us and there's a lot from back in the day that triumphs the present day.
How do you stay motivated?
The feeling I get when I create. Is there anything more euphoric and exciting than pursuing what you love? But also those so close to me, they keep me in check all the time and the overwhelming support I receive from all who connect with my art.
What makes you feel good?
Family - especially hearing their stories and viewing old photographs. Hugs, music and, of course, creativity.
What’s been your greatest struggle, and how do you generally overcome negative emotions?
Biggest struggle was learning to love myself in all ways. Depression and anxiety was prevalent in my everyday life from my early teens. Trusting my journey and all things negative and positive is what I've learnt since. When I plucked the courage to finally see a therapist, it changed my life for the better. I started journalling and communicating with my close ones how I felt. I find communication is key to helping those negative emotions and thoughts, writing it down, listening to music, and just doing what you love. Living and enjoying moments as it happens and just believing in the process and God.
How have your family and friends encouraged you to pursue what you are doing?
Since very young me and my siblings were always creating. Art was an organic path. My Dad plays a huge role in preparing my canvases, my friends and family are always there if I'm ever stuck. I'm forever grateful for their being, their constant support in life and with my journey as an artist.
Where do you draw inspiration from for your creative work?
Besides nature, music and moving image, I would say history, especially my families. The last few years has been about growth and exploring my family and their history. All those stories and visuals is what continues to shape me into the artist I am constantly developing into.
You are having a dinner party – which three people would you invite, and why?
MIA, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and my Dad. MIA because she is just amazing, musically and as an artist, she's so intelligent. Nusrat because I would have loved to have felt and hear his lyricism in person. My Dad because not only is he an awesome chef but he has so many stories, he's like a human encyclopaedia. He also plays classical instruments and has a great voice; I just think together they would create some crazy music, and whilst they do I can document it all through a BollyHood painting!
Tell us an interesting fact you would like to share about yourself
I have a twin brother who is a music producer...we also have similar names, haha!