To stand out as an individual can be as rewarding as being in the company of those who understand you.
When you build kinship with peers who share your vision and see your perspective, your artistic journey becomes enriching as well as beautiful.
With that thought, when we stumbled on our local talent, Nadhir Nor, we had to share his work with the world. From there, we added two new covers to our collection, Mentari and Purnama.
Read on to learn more about his mystical art style, his thoughts as a queer artist, and more—
Hi Nadhir! It’s so good to have you here with us today. Let’s kickstart this interview with a self-introduction!
Hello Mossery! Thank you so much for having me for this, it really is an honour. I’m Nadhir Nor, a full-time illustrator from Selangor, Malaysia.
My body of work usually ranges from exploring magical boyfriends doing cheesy, cutesy things to ominous, mythological beings lurking around in a forestful epic. As long as I get to make it magical, I’m on board!
Your cover designs are beautiful! Where did you look for the inspiration before designing these covers?
Thank you for making it possible in the first place! Visually I would say that I’ve always been inspired by portrayals of groups of people, whether from Indian miniature paintings or old classical art.
I love how still and calm they all can look but still feel very chaotic and loaded with stories with the tiny details in the paintings, so I wanted to channel that.
Looking at your covers, they seem to evoke an emotion from within. Is there a message or a story that your cover designs are trying to portray?
The overall theme that I had in mind for the series is sort of an Epicurean idea of contentment, that sense of belonging, of togetherness to obtain happiness and growth.
No matter if we’re trying to nurture ourselves, or untangle our darkest thoughts, it’s always done best knowing that we’re all there for each other.
In that case, how have your life experiences influenced your art style?
Ocean Vuong recently gave a lovely quote on an interview where he said that being queer demanded him to find alternative innovations and routes, it made him ask, ‘is this enough for me?’ I really resonate with that.
Growing up queer as a malay boy definitely made me realize earlier on how the world isn’t necessarily built for us, and because of that, I had to force myself to look at things not necessarily in ways given, and to find new, interesting ways to make things work, and in our case, to make stories and paintings more fascinating than what we’re told.
We’re curious, what was your art journey like? Were you born an artist or made an artist?
I believe that artists are only made, not exactly born. It’s just that being born into an environment that nurtures a budding artist definitely makes a difference.
I’ve been drawing pokemons and cartoons since I was 3-4, and never really stopped since. I’d say that 20+ years of drawing almost daily surely made me an artist.
We notice there is a lot of portrayal of the body intermingling with nature, why is that?
I just find humans’ relationship with nature so fascinating. I love the idea that we’ve always lived on earth with one another, I love that timelessness relationship we have, compared to say, a robotic element that would in a way suddenly render an artwork to feel modern or futuristic.
Plants and nature feel timeless, and almost non-contextualized, and that helps me use them as a visual language that does not necessarily disturb the stories too much, temporally.
In the future, is there an art medium or style that you want to explore?
I’m always itching to try everything, tbh but I would say ceramics and jewellery is something I have to try seriously once.
Could you share with us your sources of inspiration that might surprise us?
I am actually a huge fan of Lisa Hanawalt, from her podcast, Baby Geniuses (they interviewed a lot of fun Illustrators on their older episodes) to her animated tv shows (Bojack Horseman, Tuca & Bertie) and of course, her body of work.
She made me realize how beautiful the marriage between the absurd and the lewd to tell very poignant, bittersweet stories is. I love being reminded that we’re all just wacky human beings with our own tragedies and sorrows, trying our best.
Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists out there?
I’d say to find peace in the fact that a lot of artists (including me), established or not, actually don’t know what we’re doing most of the time.
Everyone’s just figuring it out as it goes because the art industry, including the world changes every, single day. So give your best and help each other out when you can.
Trivia question! Of all the plants in the world, which do you identify with the most and why?
Ultimately, I’m probably some type of mushroom but if it’s a plant, probably a bamboo shoot..cause they seem so chill, almost at peace with how aged and mundane they look, when actually they still have a long way to go
Find solace in those who share your interests, in people you've chosen to keep close.
We hope you enjoy these covers as much as we do! Remember to tag us with your unboxing clip @mosseryco on Instagram so we can share it!