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Jaffar Aly Profile

Jaffar Aly is an artist and student on the MA Art and Politics programme at Goldsmiths. Aly’s dynamic, sweeping forms and shapes have a sense of urgency to communicate the diasporic UK experience surrounding our current socio-political landscape. 

Everything Aly creates on identity, experience, race, poetry, music and community storytelling is enthralling, it demands to be heard, seen and felt at its core. The fresh honesty of Aly’s painting and academic work creates an electric wire from Aly’s hand - through the brush, through the words - directly to the viewer. 

We commissioned Aly to design this year’s tote bags because we love his work and wanted to support and amplify some of the incredible creative work made by Goldsmiths students. 

We asked our spotlighted artist for some tips and advice for new students, as well as finding out more about the inspiration behind the bag design which will be all over Goldsmiths campus and the surrounding Lewisham area this Autumn. 

Jaffar, you study Anthropology – what made you want to do this degree and why Goldsmiths?

It’s no long story, haha. Clearing was the selector, but I am grateful I fell into Anthropology. It’s added to my artist practice greatly, not only through my growing methodology, but even formulating my work to speak on topical issues that relate to myself.

How long have you been making art?

For around 3 years but I’ve always been doing something creative. If it’s not painting then it’s photography, or videography etc etc.

Who is your favourite artist right now?

I am influenced by all the people in my creative circle. They influence me therefore my artwork.

“I don’t get mad when people assume I get my influence from Basquiat. Who hasn’t he influenced? He literally flipped the art world on its head. But what influences me are the fellow artists around me… They all add different elements to my creation. From the frustration and the joy, they make me feel, they fuel the emotive brushstrokes I’m used to producing.”

Do you ever feel uninspired to make art? What do you do to get some inspiration or motivation if that happens?

I would say that I rarely get uninspired, but I don’t have the time and money to always re-up the materials needed to make my art. Be around working creatives, seeing someone make art oddly makes you want to make art also. Seeing someone love what they are doing helps you find that love for something of your own. 

Tell us about what inspired your tote bag designs for Goldsmiths Students’ Union.

Staying true to yourself. When the SU approached me to do the design, I was thinking of changing up the style for a more ‘consumer friendly’ design. In sum, I was just overthinking the thing. So, I kept to my style, Spaghetti on a canvas, the ‘it is what it is’ antics. 

What music have you got on repeat right now?

I’ve got the whole of discography on repeat. From Vice?! to TM JOJO, Wave and Skrrgeon on production. You should bless your ears.

What's the coolest place to hang out near Goldsmiths?

Hilly Fields in Brockley on an early twilight evening facing either way on the hill is my favourite place to chill at. You can catch me there most times.

Favourite place to eat/drink?

Brockley’s Orchard, maybe because it holds sentimental moments. If not there, catch me posted around London at various chicken shops. And if I’m not out and about, I’m inside cooking for those close to me.

What advice would you give to new students this year?

Don’t make university your whole existence. It’ll pass by, whilst you’re doing your degree, pick something else up, something you’re good at and enjoy. See past the fleeting. Build a community of friends that is deeper than a uni connection. And find a balance, do your fun stuff but also find that balance with passing. Get that first if you can, it’s not hard if you just balance your life out right!


Aly’s visual work has been exhibited in galleries across London and the UK. In addition to visual art, Jaffar Aly works on projects and live events including poetry and music which seek to centre the stories people tell from their lived and embodied experiences. You can find more information about what Aly’s next will be, or follow on social media @thatspaghettibrand.