The 19-year-old Mursaleen Abbas Mir was enrolled in kindergarten when he took a sheet of paper and pencil and tried to draw a bird, a picture of which was on his school notebook cover. This was the beginning of his artistic journey, since then he never looked back.
The budding artist is also known for piercing ear and nose besides tattooing.
“Initially I started learning this art by copying and drawing cartoons which were on my notebook," Mir told Rising Kashmir.
Through sheer practice of several months, Mir started making sketches of animals and birds when he was in second grade. Later, in his third standard, he started making portraits of people.
Hailing from Hassanabad Saida Kadal area of Srinagar district, Mursaleen Mir has done his primary and secondary education from Sultan Ul Arifeen School situated at Makhdoom Sahib in the old city.
Mir is currently an intermediate student at Government Boys’ Higher secondary School Hazratbal.
“I got inspiration from my school teacher, Asrar Nazki sir, who is also an artist. He always used to encourage me to work on improving my artistic skills,” he says.
The self-taught artist says he learned the art by himself. “I didn’t rely on anyone for learning sketching, tattooing and piercing. I learned it without any formal and informal training.”
“What inclined me towards this I still do not know? But I have a living memory that I used to draw them on plain sheets when I was just a kid,” says Mir.
However, the journey was not easy for him as he was criticized by the people around him for the work he does.
"But soon after realizing my talent and my passion for the art my critics became my supporters," he adds.
From painting a variety of portraits to his participation in art competitions, a tallboy with a shy appearance is a story of success. Bagging laurels at many inter-school and state-level competitions, Mir now is also able to earn from his passion.
“I used to draw any sketch that caught my attention,'' he recalls. "Thanks to the Almighty my brush fetches me some good bucks as well."
Transforming his art, Mir makes portraits for many customers on-demand now. Recently, he earned a handsome amount for the portrait showcasing a smiling boy looking into the sky.
"I get most of the orders for realistic portraits and sketching from outside Kashmir," he said.
Mir says the money his work fetches him does not only bring economic independence but it actually encourages him to see that his brush is being honoured.
“Despite being a lot of challenges, there are a lot of avenues to earn and learn in this field,” says the hopeful artist.
“Art is something that soothes my soul," he says, adding that he has also formed a collection of paintings in the shape of the book "Art by Mursaleen" which is available at many online platforms.
He further says that lack of infrastructure, proper training, and financial issues are major hiccups to any beginner in this field.
"Local artists should come forward to mentor and groom aspiring and budding artists. The government should also facilitate the artists both financially and logistically," he suggests.
In addition to realistic portraits and sketches, Mir tries his brush style on cartoon stories these days, the genre he has been in love with since his childhood.
“I started doing hard work from the day I got to make my first portrait. I mainly work on portraits, 3D sketches and charcoal work,” he says.
Mursaleen Mir considers failure the first step towards success. “I started to work hard to become a good artist and I can see myself as a fine artist today and I am looking forward to further build on my success,” he says.
He suggests certain things if one is facing hurdles in an artistic career.
"Before you can begin a successful career in art, you must first develop solid artistic skills, make a studio space, find your artistic voice, make yourself known, and that’s it, you will become a fine artist,” he says.