Deep attachment and affection towards Dhaka city inspired DhakaYeah! to come into existence 3 years ago. The platform is homage to the city – a love letter of sorts, which aims to capture the mundane, odd, whimsical, romantic, and outright bizarre aspects of the city and further portray it to the world.
DhakaYeah!’s whimsical illustrations have the ability to transport you into the hidden world of Dhaka – laced with its cultural nuances and nostalgic, historical traditions regardless of whether or not you’ve witnessed the city first-hand. An idea that came into being with the sole purpose of putting Dhaka and Bangladesh on the world map in terms of contemporary illustrations, DhakaYeah! emits a global approach fused with local sensibilities. It is always trying to capture the constant shift of culture in the metropolitan.
DhakaYeah! chooses to present itself as an anonymous entity – a clandestineness that helps to bring out the essence of Dhaka. Since it is not attached to a certain gender, group or an individual, it helps to portray Dhaka in an undistorted manner, ensuring to bring out the city and its people minus the shadow of a personality.
Apparel Resources gets candid with the force behind DhakaYeah! to understand the concept behind the platform, what’s needed for the industry to grow, and how to build a successful global brand.
Where does DhakaYeah! get its inspiration from and what are the themes that it enjoys exploring?
DhakaYeah!: DhakaYeah!’s content is largely inspired by the character of Dhaka city as a whole, its history, visits to its different neighbourhoods in an effort to look for all kinds of experiences that can bring forth the essence of the place.
Inspiration is actually available all around you; just take the earphones out and walk on the streets, and you will get inspired! DhakaYeah! gets its inspiration from both offline and online sources.
Other than the world of contemporary art and illustration, performing arts is a great source of inspiration for DhakaYeah! – be it a great movie, play, or a song.
Magic Realism, Escapism, and Romance are few of the themes that DhakaYeah! loves to explore and these are quite recurring in its works.
What are DhakaYeah!’s go-to design softwares?
DhakaYeah!: Everything from Photoshop to Procreate to Tayasui. DhakaYeah! loves to try new and exciting softwares and I urge everyone to try out different tools, because what you find difficult today, might just end up being your go-to software tomorrow.
Describe a few of your projects that got your creative juices flowing.
DhakaYeah!: DhakaYeah! is always excited about what hasn’t been created yet, and one such project that DhakaYeah! is currently working on is a series of illustrations that document nightmares of people living in Dhaka during the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully, this series will be unveiled in the month of October, marking Halloween.
DhakaYeah! has always been excited about Halloween. This occasion doesn’t have much to do with the city, but everyone can relate to the world of magic, occult, and dark things in general, which is a popular theme.
What is the best way to market a brand, and how can artists best engage the consumers of today?
DhakaYeah!: Online platforms like Instagram and Pinterest are a very good way to promote any kind of creative work, but just mindlessly posting content after content wouldn’t do any good.
There are artists who go on posting just about anything they create, whether it makes sense or not, whether it goes with the overall aesthetic of their feed or not.
You have to remember who your audience is and who it is that you are targeting. You have to understand their psychology, their passion, and it has to be organic as well. You can’t hold a few exhibitions and expect everyone to be your supporter overnight. It’s a long process; you have to feed the same idea over and over again.
Just imagine if the content of DhakaYeah! is targeted to the people in Colombo, would you expect anyone to buy it? No, you can’t. They might appreciate your skills, but that’s about it.
In order to create a proper brand, you have to know who your audience is, and you have to genuinely care about what they want. They might not know what they want to see, but it’s your job as an artist to figure that out.
What is your take on the art and graphic design industry in Bangladesh today? How do you think this space is poised in the market?
DhakaYeah!: The Bangladesh design industry is not in a good shape. The country is losing more craftsmen and artisans per year than ever before, because there is not enough market demand. The reason behind this is a ‘branding’ crisis, which is fuelling the decline.
You would see people stuffing their apartments with decor products from Thailand, India and China, whereas only a handful of stores are selling products made by Bangladeshi artisans, and there is not even enough variety to begin with. There definitely is a market, but a lot of that is beyond the realm of this nation. One has to be in sync with the global scene to be able to become a part of that market.
How can ‘creatives’ venturing into the field, negotiate and ask for a fair price for their work?
DhakaYeah!: It’s extremely important that before one starts to monetise their creative skills, they do fair research on how things are priced in the market. What might seem fair to one person might not suit another.
It’s important for young ‘creatives’ to not get caught up in all this, and instead, start off by focusing on creating a strong portfolio that would assist them in the long run.
Also, don’t wait for a big break to happen and become famous overnight (that’s not how it happens), and don’t complain about how your work isn’t appreciated enough. People will perhaps never get your work, but one needs to keep creating and bettering their craft.
You have to find out whether there is a market for whatever you are creating. If there isn’t, no matter how good you are, it won’t matter. Make sure you study every bit of the market, and if you want honest opinions, don’t ask your family and friends if your idea is good enough or not – they will never tell you the whole truth.
Bangladesh, as a country, has to its credit years of rich culture and crafts – something that has been losing its voice in the distracted world of today. How can the younger talent of today, along with the Government, improve the current situation to further highlight this strength of the country?
DhakaYeah!: The Bangladeshi Government, along with private institutions, will have to come together to educate Bangladeshis about the importance of owning arts and crafts created by Bangladeshis from a very early age, so that people start caring about preserving cultural heritage.
If people do not know enough about an art form, the artists or the culture – how can we expect people to preserve it and invest in it?
On the other hand, artisans and craftsmen should be incentivised monetarily or by other means so that they don’t abandon their professions for more rewarding careers. They also need to be supported with better training and education to improve their skills. The same problem of scanty demand exists in every form of art and within the entire industry, and sadly, the reason is not a shortage of talent.
Young aspiring artists should definitely keep cultural appropriation on their minds. Think about how the content can be presented in a different manner that’s more suitable for this generation. Create things that are relevant to the culture that will help it to grow as well.
Don’t worry too much about being insecure or be afraid of making people uncomfortable with something new. Art was not always meant to be comfortable for the viewers, but it is important to create something new and thought-provoking.
I am really inspired by creatives such as Henri Rousseau, David Bowie, and Humayun Ahmed. They all created something exceptional and out of the status quo. They created a world of their own which did not make sense to the industry, and most importantly, they did not listen to the critics. They were okay venturing outside the ‘rulebook’ and doing things their way which was extremely original.
What is your take on the future of the industry in a post-Covid-19 world? How will and should the industry change to stay relevant and yet survive?
DhakaYeah!: The industry has to take more initiatives to include more people in its narrative – this includes giving an opportunity to the up-and-coming artists as well as educating the masses about art.
There should be galleries where anyone can display their work if they want to, without having to take up the expense of renting a gallery. Artists need a sustainable platform and the appropriate authorities should take steps to ensure it happens.
It’s about time that art is made more accessible, public spheres can turn into makeshift galleries, artists are given more space in the newspapers that enables artists to create a place in the minds of the readers… basically whatever excites people about art should be done.
DhakaYeah!’s prints are available for purchase worldwide via www.dhakayeah.com and also from a coffee shop located in Gulshan 1, Dhaka called Tabaq.