Toronto Artist Nashid Chowdhury is taking over Toronto. You have likely already seen one of his stunning and colourful pieces on bus shelters, billboards, and galleries across the city.
The former professional architect has transformed his design expertise into an art career that blends pop culture and social statements.
In 2020, with the pandemic in full swing, Chowdhury decided to dedicate more time to his artistic passion. He made a personal challenge to spend some time every day on his craft. He soon began selling his pieces and his artistic career took off. It was at this time that he also realized that he would have to be the driver behind his career.
Chowdhury started graduate school for architecture but quickly found the design industry was creatively limiting. Chowdhury began exploring his artistic side, incorporating architectural skills, with pieces that reflected a changing world.
“Music, colour, and nature are the three umbrellas of my craft,” he says, adding he was showing his work in local cafes, but it was difficult to find a fine art gallery to represent him. “They don’t see ‘pop art’ as high art,” he says. “I try to make my work as accessible as possible. I was walking by a bus stop and was inspired.”
This inspiration led him to purchase ad space at bus shelters and billboards around Toronto, using the space to showcase his work. He then put a call out to his followers on social media to join in a scavenger hunt to see how many of his pieces they could find.
“With the scavenger hunt I wanted to help people who had seen my work trace it back to me,” he says.
The result was an Instagram storyboard filled with art lovers and seekers who were using their social media to tag Chowdhury and share his work across the platform.
He says social media has been transformative for both his work and the art community as a whole. He has already gone viral on TikTok and is using his new-found audience to help bring art to the masses.
It has also allowed him to finally pursue his true passions. “I fundamentally love creating things. Something is liberating about putting a pencil to a piece of paper and creating your art pieces,” he says.
His more recent works feature some of pop culture’s greatest icons including The Weeknd, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd, and Martin Luther King. He has also watched his colour palette expand as he continues to find vibrancy in the world around him.
“It’s like a game. I look at a reference image and see how many colours I can draw out of the image. It’s a treasure hunt, like mining for colour,” he says. “It’s rewarding for me to find as many colours as I can.”
The result is a body of work that seamlessly blends florals, nature, and symbolism, paired with geometry and references to classical painting. He says he tries to neutralize faces making them more ethereal or fleeting.
“I can make it as convoluted as I want, it doesn’t have to make sense,” he says, adding that the blend of art styles has allowed him to reach new audiences. “My slogan is art for dreamers. I want people to look at these pieces and remember what it is that drives them. Their goals, their passions. I want it to be a catalyst for others to do the same.”
Chowdury is continuing to expand his body of work, seeking new influences from the physical and natural world. He is also offering custom NFTs for people looking to invest in his work.
“I continue to experiment with ideas and want to stay independent,” he says.
Chowdury says it took a while for him to find his artistic passion because of his traditional upbringing, where he was expected to become a doctor or an engineer. He says people like himself didn’t have many artistic role models to look up to.
“I worked hard on my craft. I put in a very consistent amount of work to build up my skill,” he says. “It takes sacrifice and I want someone to look at these and feel they can do that.”
Find Nashid on Instagram.