Hello everyone, we are bringing you the interview of Abeer Kasiri aka Toonify Girl, the face behind the popular AK Toonify. Abeer is a super-talented self-taught digital artist and an illustrator with an experience of more than six years while working professionally as an illustrator creating game designs, assets and characters. Without further ado, here is her interview. Happy Reading!
– Abeer, tell us about your art. How did you start this venture?
I have been blessed beyond measures, I met some amazing people at the right time who had been my mentors and guides who had been there for me since day one. I’m a not a trained artist or an art graduate so you can imagine whatever I have learned by far is on my own.
I was appointed to a software house as an illustrator when I didn’t know how digital paintings work or the software, I just knew how to paint and sketch. The then Art Director (Waqar) saw the potential and he said: “software are just the tools, you can learn it if you have the skill”.
So that’s how my journey began as a digital artist and illustrator. And today, it has been 6 years in the field.
Since my expertise is character designs so it comes naturally that I love to observe and draw people around me.
I remember when I learned digital art I made the toons of my whole team Waqar, Sufyan, Wasiq and Umayr. I used to paint my colleagues and friends too.
Sufyan and Waqar always pushed me to start working on it, It is fun and people would love it but I thought it was way too early, I needed to learn a lot and master the art.
After a lot of thought process and ideas, we finally decided to give it go and work on it, I remember we started AK Toonify in August 2014 but never officially announced it because I thought it was still too early and I still need to learn a lot.
And then in February 2015 at the Comic Con event, we officially launched AK Toonify.
– That sounds inspirational and motivating. Your talent and artwork consumes a lot of time and is a stressful job. Being a working woman, how do you manage your work and passion together?
Thank you for asking this question!
Most of AK Toonify’s fans and followers do not know that the team AK work full time and run the business as well. As I mentioned earlier, I work as an illustrator, take up freelance projects and Toonify people; Sufyan is a UI/UX designer and Aisha is a psychologist (she keeps us sane).
As I’m the only artist so yes, sometimes it gets extremely tiresome to manage work and toons together and I feel like a zombie running on coffee instead of brains but some days I feel like riding a unicorn over the rainbows and sprinkling glitter everywhere I go.
I barely sleep for 5 hours a day, my job is from 10 to 7 almost! And when I get home I rest a bit and work on toons until past midnight! My work drives me crazy in every possible way and I LOVE EVERY BIT OF IT.
I don’t think my work stresses me much (Alhumdulillah) deadlines do, not being able to deliver the toons on time stress me a lot! That’s why we strictly aim for quality over quantity and take limited orders so that I’m sure I can deliver on time.
– We all are glad that you love your work and in return, your fans love the result. What are your future plans for AK Toonify?
To Toonify everyone out there, EVERYONE!
– That’s certainly an enormous plan. How long does it take you to create a masterpiece?
It takes almost 20-48 hours or sometimes more than that!
– Gosh! That’s too much of work. What challenges do you face the most?
There are so many hurdles that I go through to make the perfect toon LOL
The first and foremost is to explain the difference between a portrait, a toon and a caricature.
Toons are supposed to be simply stylized but they are not exaggerated like caricatures or they are not exact replicas of the photographs like portraits That loses the purpose of getting toonified if you need exact replica of your photograph
Another biggest challenge I face is to get the features right! I always emphasize on sending us the HIGH RES pictures and no selfies. I do not trace over an image or manipulate their photographs instead I recreate the toons by looking at the reference photographs people provide.
Obviously most of the people I haven’t met so I have no idea how they look in reality except for the pictures they provide and when they get back complaining that I didn’t get their features right, it gets really annoying for me to explain to them that we cannot do anything about it since I haven’t seen them for real or would know how they look.
– That sounds tough! Any funny customer which you ever came across, would you like to share your experience?
A LOT of them! From asking free toons, to discounts or asking for my number so they can explain me the toon ha ha. It’s like almost every day I come across such stuff and it is hilarious and sometimes annoying as well but there was this person who kept sending us a picture of a landmark on asking for his photograph, Later when I zoomed in, I got to know he was standing right there. It was a facepalm moment indeed.
– Haha that sounds hilarious. One thing which annoys you the most in this field?
REVISIONS and only revisions
– Which is your most favorite creation until now?
Most of them actually and notable these: Dream Big one, Wonder Woman one, Worry Less one, Batman and Robin’s one.
– That’s interesting. Which of your artwork will define Nageen Marfani the best?
Wonder woman one for sure: “Wonder takes time”.
– How would you describe your experience with Vogue Amour?
Nageen, you are awesome! And thank you for asking such unusual questions that I always wanted to talk about.