The Creative Soul of Isma Gul Hasan

Illuminating the power of makeup

With a bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication Design from BNU, Lahore, Isma has immersed herself into artistic pursuits of par excellence. Her most recent project called Shehr e Tabassum, the first ever traditionally animated Pakistani dystopian short film in Urdu that has received great attention both locally and internationally when the teaser was released earlier this year.


Her she talks to Fashion Collection about her passions and personal goals.

Fashion Collection: Describe your creative process. What are the major steps?

I usually start by writing and spending time with the project at hand, making little sketches, immersing myself in the subject matter. It’s very important to keep myself motivated every day, so I keep collecting visuals that inspire me. I then narrow down everything that I’ve drawn or written and pick specific colours, textures, and visual styles that suit the project. I take my time when it comes to developing the concept and then allow myself some distance from the project before the final execution in order to come back to it with a fresh mind.


Fashion Collection: How do you meet tough deadlines? Tell me about a time you completed great work under pressure.

I make sure that I follow the schedule I make by taking regular breaks and allowing my mind to wander when it needs to. I don’t put myself under pressure or let the project consume me. I usually read and doodle during breaks to keep my mind going, and then resume work after stretching my mind a little.


I think most of my projects have had tough deadlines. I remember one instance in particular: I was working on an animation on the Right to Clean Water for Shehri Pakistan. It was a frame by frame animation that I was very much invested in. I think it helped to adjust my own expectations a little; creative projects can easily spiral out of control if you don’t keep your ambitions in check by grounding them in reality a little. I made a few quick decisions that saved me time and allowed me to visually communicate the same concept that I had initially decided on, and the job was done.

Fashion Collection: How do you measure the success of your designs?

It’s important to observe how much your work resonates with the audience you’re targeting. Since it’s called Visual Communication Design, I think the success of a certain project is measured by how well the concept has been communicated, and whether people understand what you are saying.


Fashion Collection: Where do you see yourself in five years?

I see myself working in Pakistan as an illustrator, having collaborated with people from across different disciplines and countries, hopefully having finished my first graphic novel and conducting workshops on design and storytelling.


Fashion Collection: Tell us something about your latest work

I’ve been working at Shehri Pakistan for about two years now. I am currently the creative director for a project called Shehr e Tabassum. Being the first ever traditionally animated Pakistani dystopian short film in Urdu, it received a lot of attention when the teaser was released earlier this year.


The concept revolves around the freedom of expression in an oppressive society. It takes inspiration from classics like 1984, Akira and Bladerunner. The film is planned for release later this year.


Fashion Collection: How do you incorporate feedback into your design work?

It’s really important to recognise that any visual that one creates is going to be experienced differently by different people, which means that there is going to be feedback that differs from your perception of the project. Design in general is very much dependent on its audience, and feedback always helps me revisit the work that I’ve done and view it from a fresh perspective. I usually incorporate feedback by understanding exactly where the viewer is coming from, asking them more questions if that’s possible, and seeing how my existing work can remain my own while also being relatable and open to interpretation by someone else.


Fashion Collection: What kind of design projects inspire/interest you?

I’m usually drawn to illustration based projects, or projects that tell a story. I like working on themes like literature and music, but I don’t let that restrict me. I prefer projects that have more creative freedom and take an experimental or novel approach on things.


Fashion Collection: What are your weaknesses?

I think self doubt if my biggest weakness. Of course, questioning the decisions you make and challenging yourself is crucial, but self doubt can often come in the way of one’s creative process. I’m still in the process of learning how to not doubt myself and my work.


Fashion Collection: Describe yourself in three words

Conscientious, observant, empathetic


Fashion Collection: What is one advice you would like to give to other graphic designers?

Learn as much as you can and always keep reading and watching things that challenge your mind. It’s important for a designer to expand their knowledge since design is never restricted to any one field in particular; it always helps to know more about other disciplines and the world in general.