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Illustrator, Zinester and Artist based in Ottawa, Canada

Naheen Ahmed (Self_Saboteur) is an emerging illustrator, comic artist and zinester based in Canada. She is best known for her work exploring disability and trauma through expressive line work and bright contrasting colours. She is heavily inspired by 19th century Buddhist Thangka paintings, Mughal art, 16th century Rajput Court Paintings and Rickshaw street art. Her works has been featured on various platforms like; Ottawa Inshallah, SICK Zine, Maythorn, Femme and Dandy, Bite Back Distro and more.


When she’s not creating something, she’s taking care of her two old cats and eating spicy food that makes her cry. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter @Self_Saboteur6


Artist Statement

I create art to build the world I want to live in. A world that sees the inherent beauty in objects, people and ideas. I want people to view disabled folks as beautiful and valuable in all their complexity.

Specifically, I want to showcase South Asian disabled folks outside of the poverty-stricken images often seen in mainstream media. The only time disabled POC are shown, it's either for tokenism or international NGOs who use our images as pity porn for their promotions.

My goal is to create artwork of disabled South Asians outside of the white colonial gaze. This is primarily done through extensive research in art history. I use portraiture techniques created by South Asians prior to colonization (pre-1870s) as way to override the white gaze.

That means creating art with heavy ornamentation, detail and depth. It means creating artwork of South Asians as they see themselves. As I see myself.

I use the term "South Asian" art, because the region I was born in, focuses primarily on realism, which is not my interest. So I've done research on other regions' techniques surrounding portraits to inform my practice. Much of my work is inspired by art coming from Nepal to Southern India.

I am well aware that overgeneralizing the term "South Asian" can be used as 'erasure' and 'exploititive' and I am aware of the immense diversity of the region. Therefore I will state here clearly, my work is not traditional and I will never say that it is. The materials I use are all modern and do not adhere to any specific traditional craft. I am simply a remixer of the old and new, I find beauty in both.

Through research of art history, I am embarking on my quest to see the world and myself as I've always imagined it to be, a glittery flittering butterfly among chaos.


Latest Exhibitions



September - December 2022 

Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG), Ottawa, ON

July 23 2022 (canceled due to storm)

Shenkman Arts Center, Ottawa, ON

April 2022

The Digital Bonafide Exhibition

The Niche Gallery, Ottawa, ON


The Quarter Contemporary Space, UK


DIS/PLAY:  Reel Abilities Festival

Toronto, ON


heart of healthCARE Online Exhibit — Illustration



Disclosures: A Virtual Pride Art Exhibition, Carleton University Art Gallery


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