"When she was appearing in newspapers, many women could relate to her"
Making a name for yourself is hard in the creative industry, especially when you take into account how male-dominated the sector is.
However, despite all of the odds, the very talented artist Nigar Nazar, became Pakistan’s first female cartoonist after beginning her work in the 1970s.
She who is now the CEO of the art studio, Gogi Studios, went from working on comic strips to animation, live cartoon demonstrations and even workshops on television for educational institutions.
Nazar has also worked on a book series which looked at every issue under the sun: women’s rights, domestic and religious violence, environment, anti-corruption and religious tolerance:
“I’ve made 14 comic books on a range of issues like extremism and corruption, girls’ education and women’s rights,” she says.
She also is an open and proud activist who uses her works of art as a platform to educate and create awareness for the ‘grassroots’ level of Pakistan.
Nigar Nazar created her iconic and empowering character Gogi to tackle social issues.
Sporting a short bob, polka dots and extremely long eyelashes, her bubbly personality shines through each comic strip.
Funnily enough, the world may never have had the chance to see Gogi as Nazar had originally planned to go to medical school and become a doctor:
“In college I was studying to become a doctor, but I was constantly doodling in the margins of my medical books.
“Shortly afterwards I decided to take a U-turn and managed to persuade my parents to let me take fine arts,” she adds.
Gogi gained a lot of traction and readership from women, as comics at the time tended to shy away from talking about women’s issues, let alone actually featuring them as characters. Gogi became someone they could relate to:
“When she was appearing in newspapers, many women could relate to her. She was a source of amusement to her readers. I believe Gogi teaches you to laugh at yourself in the worst of situations. And we all need to do that.”
Cartoons and comics have been used as platforms for social issues for a very long time. They provide a simple and fun way to highlight issues and because they’re not too long, it’s easy for people to digest.
Gogi’s had a huge impact as she discusses many different issues and can reach a large amount of people.
Nigar Nazar’s audience in particular spans from older women to children as she admits that she has worked on a lot of childrens books: “Children in public schools will soon be receiving school bags with eight fun books/comic books authored by me.
“Cartoons can have a huge impact. That’s what I’m planning to do. If you have a following, then your character can be very effective in giving messages.”
“But even though my kids are always telling me that cartoons should be pure entertainment. I tell them I’d love to do that from time to time, but look, issues are always cropping up that need to be commented on.”
Nazar has gained international traction because of how she presents social issues. Nigar Nazar has had many opportunities to attend international conferences.
When asked in an interview with Newsline Magazine, whether she faced any problems or issues due to her nationality, she said:
“No, in fact I feel proud to represent Pakistan as a woman for two reasons. Firstly, people overseas have a stereotypical image of Pakistani women. I would like to think that my being a female cartoonist dispels that image to a certain extent.
“Secondly, whether as a member of the international jury of cartoonists in Turkey, or as a founding member of APPACA (Asian Pacific Animators and Cartoonists Association).
“I almost always found myself to be the only woman cartoonist present. Interestingly, even the western countries were not represented by any women cartoonists.
“Yes, I have been singled out many times, but only in a positive sense. As the first woman cartoonist from the Muslim world. Perhaps, I would not have attracted as much attention if I had not been from Pakistan”.”
Nigar Nazar’s work is groundbreaking and the talented artist has worked incredibly hard to create a space for women in the creative industry.
Nigar uses her cartoons to create awareness in a fun and easily to digest manner, and inspires many other women from Pakistan and all over the world to pursue their creative passions.