Haneefah Adams – The Multi-Dimensional Creative
Haneefah Adams is a ball of intoxicating energy and if I was ever in doubt about how my work gives me the opportunity to meet the best people in Nigeria, she removed such doubt. Haneefah is a medical scientist, creative artist and lifestyle blogger and she is passionate about food, fashion, her faith and her creative outlets which include mixed media and food art. In February, she broke the internet with her Hijarbie project; a Muslim Barbie which drew inspiration from the designs of popular Muslim fashion bloggers like Habiba Da Silva and Leena Asad. Haneefah is also the winner of the 2016 #TechMeetsArt competition, a food art competition held by Re.Le Art Gallery and sponsored by Samsung Mobile.
What inspires Haneefah’s art? She gives credit to the material used in the creation of each piece.
“The colours and shapes of the materials influence how I create what I want to create,” she said. “I see them and I think of what I can do with them, easily put, I am inspired by nature,”.
Her work can be likened to the works of Ida Skivenes (Norwegian food artist), Hong Yi (Malaysian artist and architect), Andrew Gorkovenko (Russian graphic designer and brand developer) and Amelia Harnas (New York based artist) who have been highly profiled by Relish.com. Just like her international artists, her work is very visual and always tells a story.
The process in which art is created tells a lot about how the final product will come out. Speaking on the timeline of her creation process, Haneefah reveals that it really depends on what she’s working on.
“Sometimes it takes five minutes in execution and sometimes it might take a day,” she said. “It depends on what I want to achieve. Some art works are really simple and some would involve more technicalities. Some days are longer, I might sketch, then move on to shading and finally covering it up with the materials that I use and this could take two to three days.”
Even though Haneefah is a professional medical scientist with a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and Drug Discovery from Coventry University in the UK, art comes naturally to Haneefah Adams.
“I was that student in high school that had her art work ripped from the exam sheet and pasted in the fine art department,” she said. “I was really good with water colors, crayons, drawing and sculpting. I am basically self-taught as well as influenced by the knowledge I gained from Junior secondary school,” she added.
One doesn’t easily come across food art in mainstream Nigeria. I for one, didn’t know the extent to which art can be created from food. Being one of the Nigerian pioneers in this field, Haneefah talks in a lighthearted manner about the challenges faced in carving this niche for herself.
“Copycats,” she laughs. “Some people do not value the hard work that goes into it and would want to value it less for your work. Although, it has really been fun and I enjoy the process, basically it is me trying to create something that is worthwhile.”
Haneefah isn’t just incredibly gifted, but very stylish as well. She makes some of her outfits herself, and her unique style has been commended by the likes of CNN Style and Metro UK.
“My religion first and foremost,” she said. “It is the first and almost the only thing I think of when I am dressing up. I have to be very modest, and I have to dress properly according to my religious beliefs. It’s not even about the article of clothing, it’s also about my character and how I try to continuously uphold a good one. How you carry yourself, it’s about what you wear and just owning it.”
Art is the expression of human creative skill and imagination, to be appreciated primarily for its beauty or emotional power. Haneefah hopes to leave a positive trail of goodness and positive impact where it is possible through her work. The artist shares that every piece of work she puts out has a story behind it.
“It is basically trying to pass any message I am trying to pass across at that time,” she said. “I have done art work that reflected global warming, going green and recycling. I have also done one about sickle cell awareness.”
Greatly inspired by her faith, Haneefah created an impact during this interview and the shoot. The subtle way she talked about her religion, her energy, her laugh and the way she blended with the crew. It is no wonder that she is inspired by the decision to do good and be good to others. In her words, she lives by a simple life philosophy; to be kind.
“It is really important to have a good heart and I try to check my heart all the time just to make sure I am being good and not forget that, as it is really close and tied to my religion,” she said. “I try as much as possible to be with God, just to make sure I do not stray from my faith. To me, that is the ultimate goal.”
Nigeria is blessed with so many natural and human resources. Lately, the creative sector has been on the rise, with commendations from Forbes profile on “15 Young African Creatives Rebranding Africa” to the infographic released by FORUM D’AVIGNON on the growth of the cultural and creative industries in Nigeria. This is a right step to improving the economy and the general outlook of Nigeria as a country. As the interview rounds up, Haneefah Adams offers some words of encouragement for upcoming artists who may wish to express their creativity in ways that are equally or even more unique.
“Consistency and hard work are important,” she said. “I even try to advise myself on that as well. Even if it takes years, when you are unique and you know you are putting out good original work, you would definitely be recognized. People who appreciate and understand value would notice and celebrate you.”
Guardian Life continues to celebrate creatives who are carving out a path for the industry to not just grow but also to have a positive impact on the nation’s economy. When thinking about building a better future for another generation, we also have to consider the opportunities we are leaving for them. Gone are the days of white collar jobs being the be all and end all. Artists like Haneefah Adams are clearing the path for a younger generation to know it is okay to be creative and find unconventional outlets for income generation.