Sayra Begum is an illustrator, writer and educator based in Nottingham. She teaches Illustration at Falmouth University and Comics at De Montfort University. Begum released her debut graphic novel, Mongrel in 2020 (supported by ACE, published by Knockabout). In 2023 it was published under the title Je suis Métisse by Delcourt.
Begum has contributed to the 10 Years to Save the World comic anthology, the Wild Escape campaign, and Constrain Climate Comics where she created a comic responding to the IPCC report (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). She also took part in the Comics Cultural Exchange Residency in Prague and was also recently an artist in residence at New Art Exchange, where she launched her Pilgrimage project.
Begum’s style is influenced by Islamic miniatures and Surrealism. She is interested in theology, our relationship to the environment, to each other, and the reality that exists beyond our perception. She is currently researching pilgrimage as a way to explore these ideas for her next graphic novel/gallery comic. Her aim is to capture ideas from philosophers (and make the inaccessible, accessible), ideas from society (to listen), and the embodied experience of the pilgrimage itself (recreated for readers to experience and find their own perspective).
Begum studied BA Illustration at Plymouth College of Art (2014) where she discovered graphic novels in the university’s library. Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis that had a significant influence on her. As a dyslexic, there was an accessibility in this multi-modal form of communication which allowed the viewer to be an active participant, yet become fully immersed. On the MA Illustration course at Falmouth University (2016), she decided to focus on graphic memoirs, particularly memoirs belonging to female and marginalised voices. Her journey with Mongrel began there and was at the centre of her creative practice until its completion in 2020.