Sketching South Asian soaps

Copywriter Maria Qamar's art puts a feisty spin on the diaspora.


Copywriter Maria Qamar, from ad agency The Tite Group, was bullied as a child. She was given the cold shoulder by the kids in her school because of the colour of her skin. It was unfortunate timing when she arrived in Canada from Pakistan with her parents – one year prior to 9/11, and we all (sadly) know how some dealt with the ordeal. South Asian immigrants, whether first or second or third generation, were misunderstood, and Qamar was one of them. Over the years, she would abandon parts of her culture as she felt the pressure from naysayers. She never talked about it. Instead, she would sketch her feelings of discrimination on paper.

And then one day, many years later, she posted one of her sketches (of a woman crying and the caption reading “I burnt the rotis”) on Instagram. Today, she’s a bit of a celebrity, with over 24,000 followers and counting. She’s been sketching and posting cultural and colourful soap opera-esque artworks ever since and recently spoke at Shame, Shame (an event showcasing her artwork in collaboration with artist Babneet Lakhesar). Her work, as she puts it, “references Desi diaspora culture, leverages the dramatic, hyperbolic, maternal and feisty women from Desi soap operas, also known as ‘aunties’ to deliver her message.”

Click here to view more of her pieces on the Hatecopy Instagram page, and read her full story in this Toronto Star profile.

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From Stimulant. You just read about a “Passion Project,” a weird and wonderful thing keeping creatives busy when they’re not hard at work in the agency world. Have your own side project like the one above? Read about more Passion Projects on Stimulant, then email Jen Horn with your passion for the chance to be featured.