Asif Farooq meticulously creates toy firearms out of cardboard and paper to question issues like gun violence and mass production – albeit all with a dexterous Pop Art touch.

Asif Farooq

Tell us about your career to date, please.

My career, to date, has consisted of small private commissions. I mostly have worked outside of mainstream art as I used to run a small electronics company. I specialized in fixing analog synthesizers. I’ve worked as a welder, carpenter, neon sign craftsman, mural painter, teacher, and other very hands-on-type fields.

Do you listen to music when you create? What would be your ideal soundtrack?

I need to have music on, yes. This week it’s been a lot of Al Green, Phyllis Dillon, Megadeth, UGK, and Coleman Hawkins.

What is an average day in the life of Asif Farooq like?

I wake up, drink a glass of water, do pushups and crunches, buy coffee, and start working. I work most days for about fifteen hours, while I always ensure to make time for those who are important or that need me – but I work a lot!

Countach by Asif Farooq at Primary Projects

What is your process from inception on the idea to a final piece?

I plan out everything before I make a single cut. I rarely take measurements or make drawings as I tend to eyeball everything. I trust my instincts fully; I’m rarely befuddled or confused about the direction I need to take. I’m a good self-manager; with the benefit of 2-plus decades of experience making objects, I tend to trust even an aesthetic whim. Clearly, my process is experiential.

Do you want to start a dialogue on guns, gun laws or what they stand for?

No, I don’t talk about politics because I do not feel I have much to contribute. I’m not a lawmaker, it would be preposterous for me to tell other people what is “right” or “wrong.” The independence that I value I respect in others, even if they do not respect mine.

Can you share some memorable reactions to your art?

They’re all memorable! Mostly, people just express disbelief, which I feel is quite complimentary! My favorite discourse is with other artists. People like Andrew Nigon– his is a knowledgeable appreciation as I admire his work for his craftsmanship and integrity. As well as people like Books and Typoe of my gallery Primary Projects, who are willing to put their name and reputation behind someone like me. That’s a pretty memorable reaction, I think.

What triggered your interest in weapons?

My interest in guns is in the idea of visual representation as personal metaphor. As a tool for communication – which is often the intended function of actual guns – they’re universally recognized. So, much as a writer uses words, or a musician uses notes, I use guns to communicate. To me they are just as interesting as any other inanimate object, but of course you can only say so much with bowls of fruit.

What are you currently working on?

I continue to push myself very hard. Every new thing I make needs to exceed whatever I did last. The only competition I’m in seems to be with myself.

Do you personally collect art?

I collect friendships, if anything. I think they are far more beautiful. I collect subjective experiences.

Asif Farooq

Asif Farooq


Words: Heike Dempster