A musician and painter, UI student is inspired by ‘things that become hazy with time’

UI junior Salman Yakub takes a DIY approach to music making while sketching people through ideas that disappear through time.



University of Iowa student Salman Yakub poses for a portrait in the Visual Arts Building on Dec. 8, 2019. Yakub is an artist, musician, and writer.

Madison Lotenschtein, Arts Reporter

Salman Yakub entered the coffee shop donned in a blue and white collared shirt etched with skulls and flowers across the fabric; perhaps mimicking his artistic ability for drawing.

Yakub, a UI musician pursuing an art major and writing certificate, uses lead and charcoal to sketch people, and is often influenced by his own experiences and family members.

“I’d say that’s the thread that runs through everything I do,” he said. “Drawing, music, writing. It’s all very dreamy, and has to with the nature of memory, dreams, and nightmares. Stuff like that, the things that become hazy with time.”

One of Yakub’s sketches is of his deceased grandfather. By drawing him, the artist is able to dip into memories of his grandfather while bringing forth a kind of sadness that happens when one remembers past loved ones.

“I kind of fixated on him a lot over the years since he died,” Yakub said. “It’s just kind of slowly crept up on me. I zoned in on his memory a lot, especially because I feel like it’s something that makes me sad but also gives me comfort.”

Related: Student Spotlight: An artist of many mediums; from painting to dancing, songwriting, and poetry, UI student has it all

Yakub used to exclusively use lead pencils, but began drawing with charcoal when it became enforced in one of his classes. He later used this technique to complete a study of Vilhelm Hammershoi, an artist well-known for having the people in his artwork not facing the viewer.

“I started using [charcoal] more because the blacks are blacker and you get a much richer depth out of it,” he said. “It really helps me build the atmospheres that I try to create in my drawings.”

Along with drawing, Yakub is a guitarist and vocalist for punk rock band Rosemask. However, the musician has actually been creating his own black metal music since high school, and continues to construct his own lyrics and music in his free time.

In order to make his DIY music, Yakub uses what he describes as a bootleg audio editing program that he received from his friend during high school. Once the creative process is finished, he uploads a song onto his Soundcloud or Bandcamp, though the process takes longer than one would think.

“A lot of the time, it goes onto my hard drive and never sees the light of day,” Yakub said. “I’ll be like, ‘oh, it’s not done yet. There’s still a few things I want to tweak. But I won’t get around to it until a year later, then I’ll be like, ‘oh, I forgot about this, I should finish this. But once it is done, I feel like it’s ready to go out.”

All of Yakub’s music takes inspiration from his own art and writing. If he were to write a short story and a line sticks out to him, Yakub will compose a song from that lyric. This inspiration also blankets under his drawing abilities as well.

“I guess the important thing to me, no matter what I’m doing, is letting all my different interests influence each other,” he said. “Because, what’s the best place to be inspired from other than yourself?”

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