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Drishti Bodhraj Premprakashi

JWB Blogger

Illustrator, Pakistani Martha Stewart Opens Up About Racism & Islamophobia In The U.S.

  • JWB Post
  •  November 10, 2016


The 24-year-old Saher Sohail graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science and aspires to attend a medical school. Living in the United States, Saher is also an illustrator who goes by the name,  on Tumblr.

Her illustrations show the real life problems and situations that she and her desi friends have to deal with while living in the US and having strict conservative Pakistani families.

Well, when I came across her illustrations, I was wanted to know more about her. I connected with her and, guess what? This Pakistani version of Martha Stewart happily obliged.

JWB: How would you describe yourself?

Saher: I love throwing parties, decorating, crafting things as a passionate hobby. I’m a little bit on the shy side when you first meet me, but when I open up to you—it will be like meeting a completely different person.

JWB: How did you come up with ‘The Pakistani Martha Stewart’ as a username?

Saher: When I was in college, I was well known amongst my close friends to be crafty. I would craft things together from scratch, always be working on projects, throwing themed parties and so much more. My friends and sister coined my name as the Pakistani version of Martha Stewart. From then on, it kind of became my very quirky and fun alias. It just stuck with me.

JWB: Did you always want to become an artist?

Saher: Not necessarily an artist for a career, making art in any form for me is a leisure and fun activity. There are people who have honed their skills and went to school for this, I’m a complete amateur. Since childhood, I’ve always been either sketching, drawing, or putting together things. I guess I have recently found the joy in it again!

JWB: What inspired you to create this art?


Saher: I always want to put down my thoughts and experiences into a visionary form. Something that will not only bring a smile to my face but others, as well. I want to be able to create an image that will make girls from the same background point out and say “Wow, I can totally relate” and be able to bond over that similar experience.

JWB: What personal experiences have you put into your art?

Saher: Whether it be my personal experience such as dealing with the topic of marriage in my own life or jabs at the typical lifestyle of a desi girl, it is something I definitely take away from real life experiences. I’m never clear about whether it is my own or from what I have observed amongst friends and family. That’s the fun part, keeps you guessing!

JWB: What do you doodle in your free time?

Saher: Usually, I’m doodling abstract designs in my free time until recently I began to doodle comic styled young women from a South Asian background.

JWB: Are the women that you draw inspired by certain TV shows or movies?

Saher: Most of the women I draw are more inspired by both pop culture, and personal experiences. Sometimes I may connect them back to Bollywood or symbols from pop culture back home.

JWB: Describe your art in a sentence.

Saher: My art aspires to touch and hit right home, and makes you say “Wow! I can relate to this.”

JWB: How do you deal with trolls?

Saher: An audience without trolls? Impossible. Honestly, if it is to bring you down, spread hate or is done so in a negative connotation, I will ignore them. If they bring up valid concerns or points, I will always be open ears.

JWB: How does your family react to your art?

Saher: I can tell you now, my mom loves it—which was surprising for me. I thought she would straight out say, “Saher, don’t you have something better to do with your time?”

JWB: What are some of the problems you’ve faced as a desi in a foreign country?

Saher: I can safely say that I have had it easier than most desis I know personally. However, what really shocked me as I grew older was that racist remarks could be made by anyone. Especially those whom you know very closely. Such as non-desi friends and coworkers whom will make subliminal racist comments that they think is ok to make when it is really not. Islamophobia is also huge in the United States, a problem that isn’t discussed in the importance it should be.

JWB: Your favorite funny Urdu phrase?

Saher: Honestly, this was the hardest question for me, I think Punjabi is easier to do, and in Punjabi, I love “Chaddo, mittipao.”

JWB:  if you could change one thing about desis, what would it be?

Saher: I don’t know about the younger generation, but for the older generation—stop being so nosy.

JWB: How did you find equilibrium between your own culture and the western culture?

Saher: As a second generation desi born in the United States, I’m still struggling to find that equilibrium. Perhaps I can tell you in a couple of years when I’ve figured it out myself haha.

JWB: What projects are you looking forward to in the future?

Saher: Not quite sure yet, taking it day by day.

JWB: What’s the first thing that comes to your mind with the following words:

Aunty: Sir Dard

Rishta: A recipe for disaster


Home: Love

Sexism: Everywhere

Colour: Life

Art: Perception

P.S. You can check out Saher’s work on her Tumblr account .

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