Shafiya Shafi, the first self taught mural artist of Kashmir

For centuries art has been used for breaking stereotypes. Through art, artists have challenged the norms of society. 

But there is one stereotype that is attached to art “ The gender imbalance”. The difference in the number of male and female artists is disturbing. 

Even in our country girls are very less involved in the art field.

Challenging these stereotypes and establishing herself in this male dominating culture, Shafiya Shafi has become an inspiration for girls of India.

Shafiya is an artist from Kashmir who has been heavily contributing to reviving Kashmiri art. Culture and art are the souls of Kashmir, but the new generation is distancing itself from them.

Shafiya is unfolding the old and traditional ways of Kashmiri art and blending them with her creativity into something new. She is probably the only woman in Kashmir doing this. 

She is an inspiration for artists in Kashmir and girls of Kashmir. Not only that, but she is also a hope for the Kashmiri art community.

Shafiya is a student of psychology and the first self-taught mural artist of Kashmir. She has been involved in various types of art forms like Illustration, portraits, murals, paper mache. Her journey was not like this from the beginning.

Shafiya’s Journey

Like other girls of Kashmir she was involved in academics, but books did not soothe her soul. She went through many rough patches in life, and then she bumped into painting.

Initially, painting became her comfort and now her life. Shafiya says, “I am my art and my art is me”.

"When I was in school I used to paint and sketch but at that time I never seriously took interest in it. I used to paint according to my mood and my art teacher used to force me in this, but I rarely showed enthusiasm for it."

"Things changed when I joined college. I decided to pen down my emotions in the form of poems and ghazals, but that didn’t work too well for me. Then I started to paint and immediately felt connected to it." She added.

Shafiya has become a popular face in Kashmir with her art. Her work has many admirers. Her paintings portray the beauty and pain in her mind. Artists in Kashmir look up to her for inspiration. 

Shades of her life peeping through her art

Just like the natural beauty has shikara in Kashmir, the Kashmiri people have shafiya to dive into a deeper world through her paintings.

 Wall art

Art on pottery

Art on pottery is a dying part of Kashmiri art. Only a few artists in Kashmir are now involved in this.


This is her favorite artwork.

Paper mache

Paper mache has been part of Kashmiri art for more than 700 years. Now, Shafiya is contributing to this beautiful art by her talent.

Creative work(artwork on an old Shikara)

Who doesn’t love getting creative, but I bet you can’t beat this girl in this. 

This is the artwork on an old Shikara in Kashmir.

Shikara is a type of boat, and it is very popular in Kashmir. Don’t miss it if you visit Kashmir.


Calligraphy enhances the beauty of words and converts them into emotions. 

Q&A with Shafiya Shafa

1. What does art mean to you?

I cannot define it in words, it is a very pious feeling for me.

I have evolved myself with my art, it is a part of me. It has helped me find myself in a way that nothing else can, and it is very close to my heart.

2. How long have you been involved in this?

I have been doing this for 5-6 years but for the last 3 years, I am professionally involved in this.

I took my first order for mural artwork 3 years ago and from there my journey as a professional started.

3. If you get a chance to relive your life from the beginning what changes will we see then?

Life was hard for me but still, I don’t want to change anything. Struggles and problems have molded me into a better person and I don’t want to change that. 

4. What inspires you? Your inspiration for your work?

Life has been my biggest inspiration. I have learned from life, people, and their struggles.

My work inspiration is the struggle faced by women. I highlight the oppression faced by women in society. But life is the biggest inspiration. 

5. How does your work affect your personal life?

Sometimes I face time issues due to my work. I have to do a lot of work and because of that I often miss hanging out with friends and peoples.

6. Why do you make this type of art?

With my work, I portray the life and oppression a woman faces in her life. I paint things from which both men and women can relate themselves.

I combine the traditional with modern and create new things with my work. 

7. What draws you or connects you to your art?

Everything connects me to it.

I am my art and my art is me.

This is a very difficult question for me to describe in words. You can see my reflection in my art.

8. What do you represent with your artwork?

I represent all struggles women face just to prove their existence. I also try to represent Kashmir through my work.

I always try to create new things with traditional vibes in them.

9. Your most imp tool?

In physical terms, brush and colors are the most important tools of an artist but speaking in a broader sense my imagination is my strongest tool.

I paint things first in my mind and then turn them into reality.

10. What is the response of your family towards your passion?

Initially, the response was not overwhelming. They did not know that I used to paint but once a news agency came home for an interview, and then they became aware of my paintings.

They are not very much supportive of it nor they oppose it. They are neutral on this topic.

11. People often call you similar to Frida Kahlo. How do you take this compliment?

I do follow Frida Kahlo. She used to do self-portraits, and so I feel relatable to her. I love such compliments, but her work is very inspiring, and I still need to do a lot to reach that level.