Everyone from Lena Dunham to Mindy Kaling loves Maria Qamar’s @HateCopy
Her sly cultural commentary is on point
“They’re meant to look like internet memes,” notes Maria Qamar, who exploded onto the art scene last year thanks, in part, to the internet. After being laid off from a Toronto-based ad agency early last year, the 25-year-old began creating brightly coloured doodles that depict her life as a South Asian girl living in North America. Within days of posting to her Instagram account, her first two drawings, including one of a sobbing woman who ‘burnt the rotis’, were shared across the web. “I still don’t add a watermark or signature. That’s the concept behind a meme; you just make it and let it happen.” What happened, specifically, was that BBC profiled the artist, as did Dazed, BuzzFeed and, most recently, Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter. But Qamar says she knew she really had something when people started requesting prints. The artist now runs her own shop, selling prints, T-shirts and totes bearing her signature Roy Lichtenstein-esque pop art. “I grew up in Mississauga [Canada] and was bullied a lot. My work is exactly how I feel about things — I had no idea that other people felt the same way!
Her unique sense of humour (“Trust no aunty”) and sly cultural commentary (a couple celebrates “not having a daughter” in one of her works) has translated worldwide. After two exhibits in Toronto last year and growing Instagram love (including from Mindy Kaling), Qamar is now working on her first book and plans to create a mural in India. “I hope one day [women of colour] will have our own galleries — instead of trying to jam our work into galleries that won’t take us,” she says.
Follow Maria Qamar on Instagram @HateCopy and flip through the gallery to check out her work
Photograph: Chris Nicholls; Styling: Juliana Schiavinatto