FOR a period of time, perhaps in the past decade, the creative industry was all about individualism.
It has now seen a shift towards collectivism, putting an emphasis on the community and the culture as a unit.
However, this idea of community has always been something that eluded Muntasir Mohamed throughout most of his career.
His creative work reflects the zeitgeist and has become part of it. It infiltrates and blends the realms of music, fashion and sports together through graphic design and illustration.
“Over the last few years, getting to work with a full-fledged team at Amsterdam-based fashion brand Filling Pieces made me realise the importance of collaboration,’’ he said.
“The element of community is extremely crucial, especially in Malaysia’s creative industry, because we are able to achieve so much more together.”
How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
Since I never really had a formal education on the subject, art and design has been a realm I have been navigating and floating through, trying to understand it every single day.
However, something I have always felt deeply is that I knew from the beginning that I wanted to create and make things that could possibly change someone’s life.
What inspires your creations?
I am mainly inspired by art styles of music and film from the late
1970s to 1990s. The photography, collage, layout, colours, textures and overall design were so captivating and I would always find myself going back to that era as it was unlike anything else.
From a very young age, I had been drawn to album art, particularly the artwork of vinyl records. A lot of the records, CDs and music projects I grew up with at the time were beautifully designed and crafted.
Stuff from people like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and believe it or not, Nelly’s Sweat Suit, a dual album with two different covers and tracks. Things like these were probably some of my earliest design influences.
Has your work evolved over time?
Apart from being conceptual and abstract, my archetypal aesthetic is raw, gritty and detailed. Coming from an illustration background, meticulous attention to detail is key to my process of creating.
At the same time, I’m always making a conscious effort to improve on my usual methods while adopting new approaches and mediums.
Moving away from my usual design style proved to be challenging.
However, this has pushed me out of my comfort zone and in turn, worked to my benefit. Learning new design techniques opened up opportunities to take on an array of creative projects, allowing me to utilise a healthy balance of old and new styles.
Does your work connect to the world around you?
Being a very introverted person, my work over the years has been one of my main avenues to connect to the outside world.
And I’ve been fortunate to meet some of the most talented and amazing people who have helped shape my career.
The fact that my work was able to connect me to incredible opportunities working with artists like Drake, Kali Uchis and many more is something I still find so hard to grasp. I’m still learning so much every day and developing as a creative but I think my main goal in my career and life is to always make work that has a long-lasting effect on the viewer while also bringing people together for all the right reasons.
How did you get connected with the fashion industry?
Working with Filling Pieces kick-started my journey into the fashion industry. Prior to this, I was only working with smaller, independent brands and only following what was going on in the fashion world from time to time. But after joining Filling Pieces, I was exposed to the intricacies of working with a major fashion label.
In January last year, I was fortunate to have attended Paris Fashion Week. It opened my eyes to how the world converges at one place to witness a brand’s years of effort.
Have cultural or political conflicts affected your work?
It made me re-evaluate my role as a creative and how I can use my platform to help make an impact and change while upholding my values and beliefs.
A key event that pushed me to use my platform for change was the Black Lives Matter movement. I had the opportunity to partner with a long time client of mine based in the United States, Renowned LA, to design and produce merchandise where all proceeds went to prominent Black Rights organisations.
Being of African descent, this was a humbling and beautiful moment for me as it was a movement I could truly resonate with. What made this moment even more special was that we managed to raise over US$15,000 for the cause.
I now make a more conscious effort to ensure that my work has an impact and can help make a change, no matter how big or small.