Our June cover artist Zarina Teli talks about her work and inspirations

Monday 17 June 2024
reading time: min, words

Our June cover artist Zarina Teli talks about her work and inspirations

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Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m Zarina - a part time artist, part time dentist! Nottingham is very much home, having lived in and out of the city for the last twenty years. The natural environment and its conservation has always been important to me, and is a key source of inspiration for my art, as are my faith and family. 

What was the inspiration behind the cover?
The arboretum is such a special place, a vast treasure trove of green on the edge of the city centre. I love seeing changes through the seasons, and have created many memories there over the years with my friends, family and most specially my nephews and nieces. I wanted to create this cover as an homage to the arboretum in summer. All the flora and fauna pictured can be found throughout. From Spanish bluebells to rose-ringed parakeets, this park is home to a stunning array of plant and animal life. I always find myself gravitating towards lush botanicals, and being able to completely fill a space with colour and life brings me joy.

How does it compare with some other projects you’ve worked on?
I’ve done many projects over the years in many mediums, from drawing on Microsoft paint as a six year old to painting murals for schools as a young adult. I’m now enjoying using and developing the skills I’ve gained to more effectively create art and keep my artistic spark alive. 

Being able to contribute to LeftLion over the past year has been really enjoyable and I’m grateful for the opportunity to create illustrations for a varied range of articles. It’s been fun working with a brief - however brief! - and the opportunity to create this cover was an exciting extension of this, as a chance to incorporate elements I love to represent in my art.

What was the biggest challenge that you faced in creating the piece?
Time! I tend to get lost in the details, and agonise over the most specific of things - should the cockatiel have yellow sunglasses or blue?! I can sometimes start doubting an idea after pursuing one for several days, so working within a specific time frame has also been a lesson in trusting the process.

June Cover


Tell us about some projects you’ve worked on in the past…
I was recently involved in Fifth World’s SEE ME project, where Muslim girls in Nottingham interviewed inspirational local women. Discussing my work with them was a humbling experience, and it was a slightly surreal but very proud moment to see it displayed in Nottingham Playhouse and Central Library. I have also painted murals, props for shows, pieces for the homes and weddings of friends, as well as holding creative classes for children and the elderly.

What have you got planned for the future?
My dream is to illustrate a children’s book one day! I also hope I’ll always be able to make time and have the capacity to develop my pottery and painting.


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