Alizai Bilal Khan – The Creative Ornamentalist
The son of a Charpai craftsman, Alizai Bilal Khan was born on 25th December 1993 in a small village of Dir, Lower KPK. After his father’s death 2007, Alizai’s entire family had to undergo a tough struggle for their careers and studies. His brothers moved to Dubai for jobs and business, whereas he and his elder sister continued studying in their hometown. Alizai studied on scholarships in school, college and university. He did his matriculation and FSc pre medical with A+ grade. He further went on to complete his Bachelors in Jewelry Designing and Gemological Sciences with distinction and a whopping 3.90 GPA. He is now a Lahore-based jewelry designer, researcher, entrepreneur, product photographer and contemporary artist. This combination of professions is not really common, rather it sounds absolutely perfect for the sultry hero of a novel.
Alizai is basically an artist inspired by nature. He has to-date worked on a number of jewelry collections with precious metals and gemstones. His primary aim is to work on diminishing techniques in jewelry to keep them alive. Alizai believes that art runs within his veins, just like blood. Ever since he was a kid, Alizai was intrigued by creative things like drawings, landscape paintings and Islamic geometrical designs. He would often find very interesting designs in the daily activities happening around him: his father developing bunk patterns or the women working at home. Alizai also took classes of calligraphy and oil painting from a local artisan of Dir and Swat Valley. Becoming a contemporary artist was a dream very close to Alizai’s heart, so he went on to join Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design.
‘Since I belong to KPK, the gem rich province of Pakistan, I opted for Jewelry Designing and Gemological Sciences. The study of gems greatly interested me, and I was keen to work with locally available materials and techniques.’
Alizai is extremely happy to say that he introduced Pashtun contemporary jewelry for the first time, by fusion of conventional and contemporary jewelry. The jewelry collection is primarily focused on making lightweight and fine jewelry, which is comfortable to wear everywhere for working women and men. Inspiration for the jewelry collection was taken from arts and crafts, especially designs found in the wood carvings of Swat Valley Pakistan, because Alizai believes that these elements will be of great help in portraying the unique identity of our culture. Alizai’s work mainly aims to make a fusion of conventional Eastern techniques with Western contemporary jewelry techniques and designs. Through experimental work it was
found that fusion of metal stamping, inlay, filigree, granulation and oxidation would give desired
‘I also want to introduce a line of products crafted by local artisans using ancient or diminishing techniques. The aim is to craft our product based on a theme inspired by our traditional art and promote it on global platforms.’
Alizai is an extremely self-motivated and hardworking person, as can easily be seen from the fact that he had to make his mark, all alone. Life hasn’t really been a piece of cake for Alizai, but then all the fun of life after-all lies in its highs and lows. After his graduation, Alizai got several offers from well-known jewelers of Lahore, but he never accepted any offers because he wanted to make his own mark in the jewelry industry of Pakistan. To survive in Lahore, he initially had to do small projects and work on hundreds of customized orders.
‘I used to work day and night in the workshop for exhibitions, and still I spend 14 to 16 hours at my workplace every day for the upcoming jewelry collections. I am really proud of my family and teachers, they are extremely supportive. My mentors boost me up with inspirational words and appreciations every single time I need a little push, or am feeling a bit low.’
These days, Alizai is working on a website which will hopefully be launched in a month or two. His vision is to promote our heritage, adhering to the tradition while introducing innovative contemporary designs. Through the platform of his website, Alizai also wishes to promote skillful artisans and designers of Pakistan by sharing their stories and by helping to exhibit their work in the international market. In Alizai’s craft and jewelry collection, there is an absolutely huge variety to choose from. Examples include Nakshkari, Islamic geometry and Phulkari.
Alizai believes that it is extremely important to choose a profession that one is passionate about.
‘Do what you love, love what you do!’