this artist’s surreal collages will melt your mind

From fries made out of diamonds to Rihanna crying gold glitter, Sara Shakeel knows how to make trippy art.

by George Douglas-Davies
26 April 2018, 9:56am

The word ‘collage’ comes from the French ‘coller’, which means to glue. Since Dadism’s inception in Zurich after the First World War, the medium has been used to question cultural values with politically charged messages and remained unchanged until the invention of the computer. As with many practices, digital replaced analogue and glue was largely replaced by Photoshop.

One such Photoshop wizard is Sara Shakeel, who turned to collage as a means of art therapy after failing her degree in dentistry. “I come from humble beginnings,” she tells i-D. “I have lived all my life in Pakistan. With no background in art whatsoever, what I am today, has nothing to do with my past, for back in the days I was a girl who like every Pakistani girl wanted to be a doctor, get good grades, and get married to a “financially sound” man. I began to realise that this is what the people surrounding me wanted me to be, and deep down inside I was lost.”

After finding herself and 291k followers on Instagram along the way, Sara follows in the footsteps of many a great female collage artist, like Hannah Höch and Linder Sterling, only sans the radical iconoclasm and punk nudity. Instead, Sara’s message is about positivity -- an imaginative pastiche of pop culture, from barbies with glittering stretch marks to human eyes filled with octopus tentacles, a Dua Lipa crying molten gold to love bites made out of milkyways.

“I still remember the very first day, the feeling after I had made my first collage,” she recalls. “I swear I felt on top of the world, even with just 23 likes!” Now she roughly averages 10K. “People have forgotten how to live for themselves. I want my Instagram to be a source of light during such a dark and vicious time.”

Here she picks her top five posts:

1. How to roll a happy Joint! This was one of my very first artworks I created back in the day, it’s my version of how I see weed ;) bright sweet smelling!

2. I created this in the middle of the night. The image had been in my head for many years, but one day while I was sick to the core I got up and created this piece, with an egg and glitter.

3. I use a lot of bright and shining crystals in my work. It represents my vision, when seeing the things I like and love. In this case it’s what I see when I look at chips.

4. This was from an animation that I made, Mother’s milk. I have a deep love and connection towards mother nature and animals, I believe whatever harm we do (intentionally for our own greedy nature) it comes back to us in one form or another, only to be once again saved by God. This image is a metaphor for God blessing us with goodness through nurturing us with milk.

5. Though it was extremely hard for me to only choose 5 artworks out of my 1900 strong collection, the fifth one would be Crossing heaven on my way back home. This image represents two things that I love and someday hope to be a part of! The first is my love of travelling, the moment I look out of the plane window, I can’t tell you how many trippy stories I come up with while i’m in the air. The second represents my ending up in the heavens! One of my biggest motivations in life is to wear a badge of honour and enter heaven like a boss!”

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sara shakeel