interview by Wanda Sabir
I caught up with TaSin in a Zoom chat one evening late February 2022 for a conversation about her new book starring her sons, “Big Kids Can.”
TaSin Sabir uses her love of art to express topics that are important to her. She graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in Photography. An Oakland native, TaSin’s artwork has been exhibited all around the Bay Area and nationwide.
TaSin has published two photography books: “Madagascar Made” and “100 Families Oakland” and now her first children’s book, “Big Kids Can” (2022). Currently, TaSin runs a photography and graphic design business. Learn more at www.tasinsabir.com.
Wanda Sabir: Tell me about the inspiration for your book, “Big Kids Can.”
TaSin Sabir: I wanted to combine taking care of kids and doing an art project at the same time for myself. In a way I was documenting them as I made a list of various activities the kids and I participate in.
I took pictures of them brushing their teeth, playing with their blocks, eating breakfast and lunch, gardening. Every other day when I had energy, I’d get them dressed and then we would do one of those activities and I will take a picture of them doing it.
At first I didn’t know how to incorporate Hero – the baby – but I took pictures of him too. My original idea was to try to get him to do some of these things too, but he was so small it was impossible. I had all these ideas written in my notebook, ideas that might work with the little one.
Once I had the pictures, I just had to lay it out. Then I looked at the pictures of Hero and his little expressions and I thought, ‘Oh I can have him looking at his big brothers.’ Lastly I worked on the ending.
Wanda: What inspires you?
TaSin: You can say I’m inspired by watching the boys learn from each other, copy each other and play with each other. Wise did that with Legend. He always wanted to copy everything Legend did. Even dangerous stuff like climbing really high on furniture when he’s so little.
Now Hero is modeling himself behind his two big brothers. Trying to walk, play with big boy toy trucks. He’s really obsessed with his big brothers, you know?
Wanda: How many months did it take to move from idea to published book?
TaSin: I started taking pictures the end of July 2020, six months ago. I took pictures for about a month. I wanted to get the book out fast before they didn’t look like little kids anymore. In July, Legend made five, and Wise turned two that fall, and the baby was still not five months. My goal ultimately was to show them the book.
Wanda: Who’s your audience?
He always wanted to copy everything Legend did. Even dangerous stuff like climbing really high on furniture when he’s so little.
TaSin: First, the book is for them and people who know them. “I love the book,” the proud mom says. “I don’t know if people want to see pictures of my children.” “Of course they do,” the proud grandmother says.
Wanda: It’s really nice. I like the promo video. Where’s that posted?
TaSin: It’s on Instagram and Facebook.
Wanda: The book is $10 US, soft cover. Where can people purchase the book?
TaSin: It’s all on Lulu’s bookstore. It’s a drop shipping place where you can self-publish. They always have sales. Just search for promo codes on the site, if I haven’t flagged one.
Wanda: I love the imprint LWH.
TaSin: Yes, that was their father Shawn Lyle’s idea – “The Legend of the Wise Hero.” It was going to be its own book, but I like the name so much I started my own publishing house and I’m going to use it everywhere.
Wanda: Please talk about the leap from being a fulltime artist, curator and designer to a fulltime mom.
TaSin: I kind of feel like I need to create. Even though I don’t have as much time as I used to have, parenting has taught me how to be more decisive with my creations. I don’t have time to vacillate or be indecisive. I’m like, oh this looks good, I’m done.
I trust my instincts more, because I don’t have time to do multiple runs. I think I’m a better designer now, because I’m more confident – I don’t have time to second guess myself. I think creative parenting teaches you how to multitask on your feet at a heightened, whole crazy new level.
Whatever I do, I like to do it well. It’s a lot of juggling. It’s not one or the other; I have to parent. I have to create. They always mesh, but it’s nice, as with this book “Big Kids Can” – it feels more geared towards me. Instead of thinking of creative ways to teach kindergarten, I have created a book while parenting.
Wanda: You’re documenting parenting creatively. You have made something tangible, rather, that facilitates an experience you can preserve and give to them years later.
The book freezes these precious moments the audience shares with you. The design itself is so pretty. The pages are filled with bright collage that bleeds across margins and off the edges. And the boys look life-like. How did you do that?
TaSin: I used stock images with watercolor.
Wanda: I really like the gardening one and the painting one with the easel – Wise Deen has paint on his chin and his nose.
TaSin: Children’s books are so bright and fun. I had to make it appealing. I don’t think it would have been as exciting if I had the boys playing with blocks in my living room.
Wanda: The boys look really happy in their photos, brushing their teeth, cutting bananas, eating breakfast – Wise with all his toys around him.
Congratulations on your first children’s book! I hope it flies off the shelf and you get all kinds of accolades and awards.
TaSin: It’s always been a goal of mine to publish a children’s book. I feel really excited that it’s done. I have been thinking about doing a children’s book forever. Yeah, it only took like seven to eight months.
Wanda: Good, I’m glad you got it off your bucket list.
Bay View Arts and Culture Editor Wanda Sabir can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.wandaspicks.com throughout the month for updates to Wanda’s Picks, her blog, photos and Wanda’s Picks Radio. Her shows are streamed live Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m., can be heard by phone at 347-237-4610 and are archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/wandas-picks.
TaSin Sabir uses her love of art to express topics that are important to her. She graduated from California College of the Arts with a BFA in Photography. An Oakland native, TaSin’s artwork has been exhibited all around the Bay Area and nationwide. TaSin has published two photography books: “Madagascar Made” and “100 Families Oakland,” and her first children’s book, “Big Kids Can,” was released this year. Currently, TaSin runs a photography and graphic design business. Reach her at email@example.com.