BANK Highlighted Artist #4: Imran Azam

Imran Azam is a filmmaker with a northern soul and London blood.

 

In this interview, Imran discusses his approach to video storytelling, his love for YouTube and his journey to becoming a filmmaker.

6th August 2020

Imran Azam with José Mourinho
Imran Azam with José Mourinho

Hi Imran – thanks so much for being our fourth Highlighted Artist. Can you tell us about the work you make?

Video storytelling, combined with new media, provides me with the opportunity to break production conventions in order to express my ideas. It is through video that I express linear, abstract, conventional and unconventional artwork.  My work is commercial, political, social.

 

 

What was your journey to becoming an artist? 

My appreciation of the arts in general only started in earnest after university.  Up until that point, I wasn’t aware of its transformative nature.  For years, I struggled to understand what art meant for me and how I could make it part of my life.

As time has gone on and I have experienced the many highs and lows that life has to offer I came to realise that the opportunity to experience art is endless; in the most benign and the most profound moments. I made it my objective to put art at the centre of my life and this led me to the work I do today as a video storyteller.

Whereabouts are you based? How does that impact on your work? 

I am based in Mirfield but hail from West London, having lived in Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester. I quip that I have a northern soul and London blood, but in actual fact, it’s quite close to the truth. My relationship with my work is shaped by my the culmination of experiences wherever I have lived and it’s symbiotic; it shapes me, and I it.

 

Who or what else inspires your work?

I am drawn to those who redefine the genre of video storytelling. In the main, you will find such people on YouTube (a great experimental platform for visual storytellers) and the likes of Casey Neistat and Josh Yao are particularly compelling.

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B9DLXSlAK38/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

 

What would be your dream commission or exhibition/performance opportunity? 

The ability to connect deeply with other people through storytelling is a powerful currency. My dream is to share this power with people who don’t usually get the opportunity to share their story so that they can wrest back control of their stories, tell their stories on their terms and uncover transformative opportunities to live better.

 

Has COVID-19 and restrictions around the pandemic affected the way you work? 

There is a meme going around showing the before and after of the life of a video storyteller; its the exact same image!  We spend most of our time behind a laptop producing our work and it’s the same for me. In this way, I feel fortunate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are you looking forward to and where might we next see your work?  

I am looking forward to accelerating my plans to deliver storytelling seminars and workshops and immersing myself in the work of contemporary and classical artists in order to learn and grow.

My work is sporadic and unstructured so perhaps @moiazam on Instagram is the best place to start.

 

And do you have any tips for aspiring artists who want to have a go themselves? 

 

Do The Work: Artists have a reputation for being perfectionists. Whilst this is can be a noble aim it can also get in the way of your development as an artist. If you want to hone your skills as a video artist you’ll need to produce video art that is simply good enough.  And then do it again and again. It is in the doing not the theorising or procrastinating that you will learn. So…do the work.

 

Keep Going: In the beginning, you will sweat blood and cry many tears in the process of creating your video art but the truth is no-one is likely to take much notice. At some point, you will come to a crossroads where you have a choice to make: give up or carry on. If your personal circumstance allows you to choose one or the other then it is only the joy you experience from producing art that will see you carry on. An artist must experience their fundamental truths through their work in order to justify what is statistically most likely to remain a labour of love. But the world needs you and your truths so… keep going.

 

Seek Mentors: Mastery of artistry enables you to create art that is uniquely you. But to attain mastery you need the humility to accept instruction and guidance. Find mentors both in real life and online that inspire you with their work and who share their skills and ideas. Do not aim to imitate them but to be inspired by them. So… seek out your mentors.

 

Embrace Uncertainty: If it were clear, easy and well-paid everyone would be a video artist. But it isn’t. The creative process remains elusive and by definition unstructured. Every time you approach your camera you will face your own fears; fear of the unknown as well as fear of the known.  The only way to create is to accept who you are, where you are going and have faith you will end up where you need to be. So… embrace the uncertainty.

 

Just start.

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