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Sayra Begum released her first graphic novel, Mongrel in August 2020, published by Knockabout Comics and supported by Arts Council England. Mongrel tells the story of a British Muslim woman who grew up in-between two cultures. The protagonist, Shuna, challenges conventions, looking beneath the surface to celebrate differences and reveal our common humanity.

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. Her primary tools are mechanical pencils, but she is experimenting with developing her technique in other mediums. She is currently scripting her next graphic novel, a story based on her grandparents and their encounter with a Djinn.

Begum studied BA Illustration at Plymouth College of Art (2014) where she discovered graphic novels in the university’s library. It was Craig Thompson’s Blankets and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis that had a significant influence on her. 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.

Begum recently obtained her PGCHE and tutors on the MA Illustration course at Falmouth University.



2021 – Falmouth University – Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE)

2016 – Falmouth University – Illustration: Authorial Practice MA

2014 – Plymouth College of Art – Illustration BA (Hons)


Award / Grant

2021 – British Book Design and Production Awards, Graphic Novel Shortlist 

2019 – DYCP Grant, Art Council England

2016 – Atlantic Press Award for Excellence in Graphic Literature


Residence / Exhibition 

2021 – Comics Cultural Exchange Residency in Prague, organised by Lakes International Comic Art Festival and Czech Literary Centre

2020 – Exhibitor, In-Between, TOMA Time Bank Space, Southend-on-Sea

2020 – Exhibitor, On Point, Surface Gallery, Online

2018 – Exhibitor, The Inside Job, Tate Modern, London


And Other Things 

2021 – Speaker, A Heap of Broken Images with Robert Adams, Comics Up Close forum and Guest at LICAF

2021 – Guest Artist, Beirut Comic Festival, Institut Français

2021 – Activity leader, Autobiographical Comics, Comic Art Europe, LICAF, Abraham Moss Primary School

2021, Speaker, Illustration Assembly, Plymouth College of Art

2021 – Guest speaker, Laydeez Do Comics, Online

2020 – Guest Lecturer, Narrative and Storytelling, Online MA Illustration, Falmouth University

2019 – Activity leader, Movement in Memory: A Comic Book Workshop, Tate Modern, London

2019 – Guest and speaker, Portsmouth Comic Con, Hampshire

2018 – Speaker, Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Lake District

2017 – Visiting lecturer, Graphic Memoir, Falmouth University, Cornwall


Reviews, Mongrel – Sayra Begum’s Study of Intergenerational Conflict and the Pull of Two Cultures Makes for an Assured Debut Graphic Novel, “we applaud it” – Mongrel by Sayra Begum, Review: Mongrel by Sayra Begum, published by Knockabout Comics, In Review: Mongrel by Sayra Begum, Mongrel: Advance Graphic Novel Review, Mongrel, Life growing up as a British Muslim is artfully documented in Sayra Begum’s autobiographical debut graphic novel, Mongrel – Sayra Begum (Knockabout)



Showcase Magazine, A graphic memoir, Lakes Festival Focus: Sayra Begum