Wajid Khan: Artist, Portraitist, Sculptor, Inventor

- Kriti Bapnad, Koushal Devabhaktuni , Journal Club



Wajid Khan is a renowned Indian artist, portraitist, sculptor, and inventor. Mr.Khan was named in the Guinness Book of World Records, Limca Book of Records, and Asia Book of Records for his outstanding artworks created by carving canvas with nails. He received three awards from the former President APJ Abdul Kalam. His work is in display in the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

How did you start doing what it is that you do?
The defining moment of my life was when my mother gave me a sum of Rs 1,300 and said “live your own life and achieve your goal”. She believed that I was meant for something remarkable. I struggled a lot initially, trying to make ends meet by selling cloth and doing odd jobs, while pursuing my hobbies. Back then, technical robots caught my fancy. I experimented with various things before I settled down with nail art. My first nail art took three years. I always knew that I wanted to achieve great feats and art was my path.

How did you keep yourself going through your period of struggle?
Life demands struggle. I believed in myself. Also, I had nothing to lose. The hard work that you put in is the major building block for the person you are today.

Why nails or unconventional material? What made you choose them?
I had no resources to chase my dream and do something extraordinary. All I could get easily were nails and plywood so I used my imagination using them.

Your favourite artwork?
My first nail art was a portrait of Gandhiji. Despite receiving an offer of Rs.50 lakh for that portrait, I never sold it. It will always be closest to my heart. I have also made several iron nail portraits of other noted people like Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ.

What is your creative process?
I never draw a portrait beforehand on the sheet. My mind already has the picture and I follow that instinct. For the nail art I use a hard acrylic sheet on which I draw a pencil outline just to mark the starting and ending points of the portrait. Practice, hard work, and discipline are the key. My first nail art took three years. Now they take 4-6 months. I also work with other equipment like automobile junk, medical equipment etc.

What do you want to express through your art? Is there any aspect of the society you want to influence?
The Holy Quran says: ‘Live for others, not yourself’. So, I am trying to equip the physically disabled and the less privileged people with art. I want to use my fame to help struggling artists and inventors get recognition across the world. I want to work quietly to help the artists and make them self-dependent.

Any projects to watch out for?
I have been commissioned to design a unique sculpture for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar. I am also going to give a TED talk.

PC: Department of Photography - BITS HYD