UK-based digital artist Ahad (@wiresandtrees) is a Klimt dark fantasy, a seeker of the in-between, a purveyor of the layers between nightmares and dreams. As a third culture kid, Ahad turned to surreal storytelling to weave worlds where he fit in; growing up British Pakistani, he felt divided, like he belonged to neither. His self-discovery came through days of drawing, shaping and making.
THE TWO MOON SPIRITS - WIRESANDTREES
Where did the name wiresandtrees originate?
Just randomly, I liked drawing lines, especially very thin lines that almost looked like wires. I also spent a lot of time sketching in nature and loved to draw trees so I just combined them into ‘wiresandtrees’ — though I think it’s more of a handle now and I prefer to go by ‘ahad’.
Where did you grow up?
In a small town called Bedford not too far from London, my family moved there from Lahore when I was around 3 – I am a British Pakistani.
What were your earliest artistic influences?
I grew up watching a lot of cartoons and used to copy them while sitting in front of the television. Though I remember being fascinated by the works of Picasso and Klimt the first time I saw them. When I got a little older the works of Amano and Moebius became big influences.
EARLY CREATIONS BY AHAD (WIRESANDTREES)
Describe your creative journey.
I always loved to draw and still find I am happiest when I have a pencil in my hand. I was a pretty quiet kid and liked to daydream a lot. I guess those daydreams eventually became more vivid and I tried to capture them on paper. I love stories especially dark fairy tales and mythology. I remember reading the works of Borges and Jules Verne and found myself totally lost. Growing up I also loved spaces and buildings, especially old ones and eventually I trained as an architect as I was not sure if I could make a career from just art. Now I do a combination of both – working for myself.
How did you develop your style?
A lot of practice. Drawing everyday, I used to go to life drawing and do a lot of art reading. I started with the basics and eventually tried to learn from youtube tutorials or old masters. Then one day I felt like painting something I really wanted to that felt more ‘me’. And I guess that was the beginning of my style today. I think ‘Lost in Dreamfields’ was my most important work in terms of development. It was mostly made on procreate with the oil and pencil brushes and a lot of form-finding and composition play.
LOST IN DREAMFIELDS - WIRESANDTREES
"When you are caught between waiting for something or choosing to move forward, you get stuck in strange timeless places where your mind is pulled to all corners."
How have your travels influenced your work?
I am very lucky. I have travelled across most of Europe and a lot of Asia. I also got to visit the USA when I was younger. In every single one of my trips I’ll have my sketchbook and camera. They all have contributed to my style in some way. Certain moments rather than places stay with me.
Are you a full time artist?
I am actually an Architectural Designer (RIBA part II) by trade. I used to work in practice. I left my job to finish my masters degree and then the pandemic hit. During Covid I decided to also pursue art and started my own business ‘designbyahad’. Luckily things have gone well and now I can do both art and architecture. The business is just approaching two years old now.
How did you enter the NFT space? What have been some of the high points and pitfalls?
I had a few friends recommend it to me. I thought it looked cool and decided to try them out and luckily it worked out for me. I’d say the best part is I can now sell my art work as I want to without having to always do commissions or prints. NFTs let me create what I really want and that has also helped me grow. It’s not always perfect, as with any new technology, however the community as a whole is excellent and constantly challenging the NFT space to be better (and it’s working!)
THE FEAR CATCHER - WIRESANDTREES
“Somewhere in the realm of sleep lives the Fear Catcher; not to be confused with the Dream Catcher. When coming across this being, most humans assume they have entered a nightmare. The Fear Catcher, however, is only there to consume your fear. They look for the souls who venture too deep into the dream world in search of peace. They are attracted to humans who have let their physical pain manifest through their night bodies. Do not be scared if you ever come across the Fear Catcher, instead, thank them and tell them your name so they will never forget you. ”
What are your favourite mediums?
I love to paint digitally with Procreate or Photoshop (I use my own brushes). I like to sketch my work by hand first. In terms of traditional art, I love watercolour, colour pencils and nicker poster paints. I paint with oil sometimes, too. I also enjoy sculpture, woodcraft and 3D printing.
Which mediums are most intimidating?
I think chalk is very difficult. I don’t enjoy processes which require a lot of mark making or repetition. I also love animation but find it difficult.
How do you overcome creative block?
I go for a walk or to a museum. Sometimes hanging with good friends helps. I have a lot of art books and documentaries I watch when things don’t seem to work. Or even a good nap can help.
MARCH OF THE DEMONS - WIRESANDTREES
"The Lord of the Demons must reign for a thousand years. After this, their body turns to ashes. A new Lord must be chosen and this is when a magnificent and terrifying event occurs. The beings most feared in their own worlds come together in a procession with great excitement! One will be chosen to become the next Demon Lord.
As tragic beings which are born but cannot die - ultimately it is the goal of every demon to become the Lord for two reasons. First, they become the most powerful. Second, at end of their reign they are granted what humans fear most - an eternal sleep."
What are some of the major life experiences behind your work?
Learning about death and illness early in life made me fascinated in spirituality and the world beyond.
Also growing up as a third culture kid, I never felt like I belonged anywhere. I was too British to be Pakistani and too Pakistani to be British. I was stuck being a combo of the two but found it hard to fit in with either. I followed my own path in a way instead. It pushed me more towards the surreal and fantasy side of storytelling and art.
How would you describe an aura migraine? How have they impacted your life?
I’ve experienced them since I can remember. Usually they start with full or partial loss of vision for anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour, followed by a horrible migraine that lasts until the next day. The loss of vision is usually through colourful patches. They have become less frequent as I have gotten older.
THE ENDING BLADE - WIRESANDTREES
"The Nymph, feeling upset, approached Death.
"Oh, Death, surely it is time for you to end all things?"
Death, curious, asked The Nymph what happened. What followed this question was a long tale of heartbreak - one more tragic than he had heard before. Death then told the Nymph:
"Don't you think you are being selfish, asking me to end all things because of your heartbreak?"