Footprints in history: Karachi freelance designer’s work among top 28 in the world

An IVS student’s artwork beats that of professionals in communication design.

Samia Saleem June 28, 2011


Freelance designer Vakas Siddiqui’s work has laid to rest the myth that Pakistani students are limited to excellence in science and the humanities. Siddiqui’s design has been selected among the top 28 entries from the world on communication design. His work, and the other selections, will be displayed from October 21 to 30 at the National Taiwan University of Arts in Taipei.

Siddiqui, a 26-year-old communication design student at the Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture (IVSAA), participated in the project ‘Mother Tongue’ with 30 of his peers. The International Indigenous Design Network (Indigo) launched ‘Mother Tongue’ as a ‘cross-cultural platform’. The organisers hope to encourage collaborative projects that help people from different backgrounds come together and understand culture through the visual world.

The application was open to design professionals of all levels. While the total number of entries was not disclosed, hundreds of people participated from all over the world.

Siddiqui’s artwork is a pair of footprints made up entirely of Urdu calligraphy - his mother tongue. The footsteps represent imprints left by his mother. “A mother is the only one people follow since childhood,” he told The Express Tribune. “Basically, we all follow footsteps.”

Indigo, started in 2007, is led by the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda) initiative of the International Design Alliance (IDA). It aims to explore and interpret home-grown design throughout the world. The organisation focuses on different conditions and themes such as the economy and natural resources, colonisation, migration and identity. IVSAA is the only art school in the country registered with Icograda.

Siddiqui is a self-taught graphics designer, there are more people in the market than are usually needed and even freelance work is difficult to come by. His competition comes mainly from his fellow IVSAA students, the Karachi School of Arts and University of Karachi’s Visual Arts Department.

This budding young prospect is filled with optimism for design professionals in the country. “The last three to five years have seen a boom in digital media with increased advertising and social media,” he says.

Siddiqui has been a freelance designer since he was 18 and has worked with some big names such as Mahin Hussain, Asim Jofa, Ayesha Jalil, Bina Khan, Adnan Sheikhani and the Engro Corporation to name a few. He now works as a freelance user experience and communication designer and also runs a business named Copycat Interactive. Designing and developing websites and applications customising social media are among its many services.

As Siddiqui basks in his latest achievement, he has not lost his patriotism. “This will not only benefit me as a professional but will also bring Pakistan’s talent forward,” he observes happily.

Vakas Siddiqui’s description of his work

My mother - I opened my eyes to her gentle whisper, I smiled my first smile on her soft caress. Then I grew up, I held her little finger, and treaded along her footsteps. For my little soul, her measured footsteps meant everything -direction, confidence and self-assurance.

My artwork is made of disordered calligraphic Urdu script that come together to picture those footprints. Just like those early footsteps, the Urdu language holds such values for me that embody confidence, self-reliance and perseverance to attain the highest levels of learning.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.


Naheed Ali (IVS alum) | 10 years ago | Reply @not a hater ... so you think that even though hundreds of people submitted work and Vakas's is in the top 28? that is not good enough because you have a personal opinion about the work in question? I'm all for being opinionated but lets not confuse the issue ... you don't like the work .. that's fine ... you personally think it misrepresents Pakistan? as a Pakistani? you also have a right to that opinion BUT you could have just said congrats .... good job and lets see something different ... you could have tried making suggestions for what you thought didn't work in the piece, what you feel would've worked better ... you could've given inspiration, cited examples, discussed a concept ... but you didn't. its a starting point for his career ... the fact that a 26 yr old stood up in a competition against working professionals from across the world and ranked highly? IS a positive step!! Appreciate the achievement - don't put someone down for being brave enough to take a step. i could ask what are you doing to present your country in a positive manner? sorry, no offense meant - its just that so many of us are ready to criticize ... but criticizm should be there to help ... not put someone down ... it should be done in a manner to encourage the other person to become better!! That's what i was taught in my 5 years at IVS and thats what i tried to inculcate in my own students for the last 7+ years. also - if your aim is to help through your opinion? hiding your name?? isn't a good start! and THAT ... is MY opinion! which i also, have a right to!!
Naheed Ali (IVS alum) | 10 years ago | Reply congratulations Vakas! :) nicely done! keep it up!
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