MEET YOUR MAKERS
Presented by TIX on the Square
Sometimes, the thing you need is right in front of you—only you don’t know it. That’s not the case for Riyaz Sharan, a photographer and illustrator who sees potential everywhere. Whether he’s looking up at a skyline, through a camera lens, or even at a neon sign, finding beauty in the everyday is his passion. So too is sharing it. In this week’s Meet Your Makers, we had the pleasure of chatting with him about all things inspirational—from his love of everyday wonders to his gratitude for community. Meet this week’s maker, Riyaz Sharan.
TIX: There’s a real sense of place attached to your artwork. What story are you telling through your depictions of our city?
R.S.: The story that I am trying to tell is how unique and romantic Edmonton really is. Sometimes, a landmark or setting is overlooked, and what I try to do is to make the viewer smile or give a warm fuzzy feeling. My goal is to get the viewer to feel like they are sharing in the moment with me, whether it be in my photos or illustrations.
TIX: You recently transformed a series of Edmonton landmarks into six very popular puzzles. Why did you choose puzzles as a medium? Are there plans to grow the series?
R.S.: I chose puzzles as my medium because of the pandemic. No one was able to go out and about. A couple followers on Instagram reached out to me in early 2020 and asked if I would ever consider turning my illustrations into puzzles. I kind of shelved the idea, as I didn’t really know if it was a venture I wanted to go with. However, in the fall of 2020, even more people asked, so I did some research and decided to go ahead with the idea. What was meant for my small group of interested followers, turned into a very popular idea. And now having my products in stores is such an amazing feeling. The support by Edmontonians and people from around the world has been humbling… the stories I hear from people about how my puzzles and art brought their families together during the holidays meant a lot. Hearing about stories of peoples’ childhood memories, in particular with the neon lights museum illustration, and how certain signs meant a great deal to them—just a great feeling.
I do plan on getting more puzzles created; however, I need to get the inventory of what I currently have out the door. Ha! If anyone has a suggestion on what they’d like to see, I welcome their feedback. My plan is to have more puzzles in hand for spring/summer of this year.
TIX: How would you describe your artistic style?
R.S.: That is a really good question. I don’t really know how you would describe my style. Perhaps, contemporary? I envision an idea in my mind and draw it out until I like it. I like to use my photos as the stepping off point to help get the creative mind going. Sometimes, I have been inspired by other people’s photos shared on social media—that gets me creative.
TIX: There’s a strong creative community in Edmonton. Are there any local artists, photographers, or graphic designers who you look up to or who inspire your work?
R.S.: I love the Edmonton arts community. There is world-class talent all over this great city! There are so many creative people out there that I look up to or that have been very supportive to me. It’s too hard to name one or two. I feel like all the art that’s out there is so unique that it inspires me to challenge myself and draw inspiration from what is being created.
TIX: What advice would you give to up-and-coming graphic designers in our city?
R.S.: The advice I would give to up-and-coming graphic designers is to challenge yourself to think outside the box, no matter how crazy an idea may or may not be—just have fun. There are so many talented artists in Edmonton, reach out and ask to collaborate so you can learn new techniques or new way of thinking to allow creative ideas to flow.
TIX: Is there an illustration or project in your portfolio that you’re particularly proud of? If so, which one?
R.S.: Oh, gosh. There are so many projects that I have done that I am really proud of, but there are two that I need to brag about.
- Giving back to the community—One thing about me is that I like to give back to the community when and where I can. The community has supported me so much with where I am today that I like to give back. With fundraising efforts being a challenge in 2020, I was able to fundraise in total over $1,500 for WWF Canada, Rainbow Refuge, Santa's Anonymous, and the Christmas Bureau. This was by sales in posters, greetings cards, and puzzles.
- Neon Lights Museum—This illustration is something I’m most proud of. When you look at the illustration, you cannot tell if it’s real or not. It took me over 80 hours to complete.
TIX: Are there any upcoming projects you’d like to tell us about?
R.S.: I am trying new techniques with my illustrations and showcasing wildlife. Also, I am doing illustrations from around the world that I have taken photos of during my travels. My most recent piece was an illustration of the City of Calgary that was shared by Mayor Nenshi. To see what I am up to, follow me on Instagram @ryzshrn.
Want more? Visit rssdesigns.ca and tixonthesquare.ca for the latest from Riyaz and other great artists.