As the world grows increasingly mechanical and societies turn grey, our innate desire to find colour guides us towards the world of art. This ardent need for creative expression, coupled with technologies, can be stated as some of the many reasons for the increasing solidarity for art witnessed in recent years. Illustrations, in particular, are obtaining a singularly strong foothold on the Indian Brands.
“An illustration is an art of crafting an image to convey a message for a particular reason,” explains Sajid Wajid Shaikh, a self-taught visual artist specialising in illustration and design. Sajid’s artworks speak for themselves through their severe lines and abstract forms. Having partnered with companies such as Google, Facebook, and Adidas to name a few, Sajid possesses tremendous knowledge upon the use of visual languages, such as shape, form, line and colour to convey the necessary message. His artworks are often a departure from the reality, portraying the everyday subjects in an abstract style and often coloured vividly. “An illustration is engaging and independent of the boundaries set by the physical world, as they are a fraction of an artist’s imagination, which provides the room for artistic liberty,” said Sajid.
The artist attributed the growing popularity of illustration to its ease and accessibility. “With the advent of technology and internet, illustrations are relatively easy to produce and are quite flexible in terms of the time it takes to make the changes and get the desired image,” explained Sajid. He supported his statement with a series of his projects and commissions.
“For example, The Granfalloon project. The Granfalloon is a production house based in Mumbai. The idea is to show a state of mind and location that brings people together who may otherwise have nothing in common. And so, we made the two partners fly on a Carousel, one is trying to catch a fish in the sky, and the other is trying to fry it,” explains the artist. “Moreover, illustrations can effortlessly give the brand its character, as they crafted to fit the brands’ needs, and are comparatively easy to make, change, modify and scale. Hence, with all things said, illustrations are taking a seminal place in the marketing and communication department of major corporations,” noted Sajid.
Agreeing with Sajid, illustrator and graphic designer, Pavan D. Rajurkar believes that the growth of the illustration field can be attributed to three primary reasons: New Tools, Growing Modern Media and Less Manpower & Minimum Resources. “From my experience, I would say that the medium of illustration isn’t as demanding as other mediums like films or photography, which would require certain resources and manpower. One can communicate the same thing through illustration with limited resources and in less time,” explains Pavan.
Pavan D. Rajurkar has been working in the advertising and design industry for the past seven years, upon completing his Masters in Animation Film Design from National Institute of Design. Having worked for numerous advertising agencies such as JWT, Interface, and Radio Mirchi, among several others, Pavan draws his inspiration from colours, culture, mythological stories, and is especially inclined towards Indian art forms. It is this penchant for something Indian and local that has helped him find his style and visual language. Hence, what better authority to further explicate on the role of illustration?
Having attributed the growth of the field to three reasons, Pavan further elaborates on his points. “Firstly, the access and ease of digital tools allow creation and publication with much more ease. New tools including, digital devices, software, print & colour technologies have reduced barriers and opened new avenues. Secondly, today social media is a chosen hub to cater to a wide range of target groups, which contributes to the ever-changing styles of the artist. Since they are always on their toes, learning from different styles and techniques from around the world. On the other hand, brand requirements have also evolved with time in terms of frequency, promotional activities, design language and such. Moreover, their primary need is to maintain a regular social media presence which can be easily fulfilled by illustrations,” elucidates the artist.
Illustration in terms of brand designing is nothing new in our country. “The art of illustration has its share of history with brand designs in India. The industry is vast as many consumers, industrial products and services have been using this medium to build their brands and promote their stories, since time immemorial. Therefore, I believe that illustration is not forging a new place in the industry because it already has a place of its own. But it is evolving, as the brands reuse this traditional form of communication in a modern system,” elaborated Pavan.
Thinking in similar terms, Satish Gangaiah provides us with a unique insight into the field. Possessing over seventeen years of experience as an illustrator, visual artist and graphic designer, Satish has worked with numerous national and international companies such as Bosch. “The field of illustration in India has evolved tremendously and have started to cater to a broader audience now. In my 17 years of experience, I have witnessed a lot of change in the way art used in creative representations. There used to be a time when there was a heavy reliance on the use of stock images. And now, we can witness this trend gradually fading. At present, there is more thought given about the ‘end-user’. Everyone seems to think of the prospective audience before the design process begins. That, in my opinion, is more professional and also renders the design or the artwork more relatable with its target audience,” Satish explains.
Furthermore, the artist believes that present-day art and design are evolving to cater to the end-user or the target audience by reflecting the local trends and colloquial flavour. Hence, shaping foreign brands to be more appealing and approachable. “I have worked with multinational companies such as Bosch, where they wanted to represent themselves with a local context. They wanted to portray how their expertise in the automotive sector can help build local economies and create local jobs, specifically catering to an Indian market. And, they wanted to portray it to a vast audience in the simplest of mediums. Illustration connected them to their target group, and the project portrays this,” states the artist.
Approaching the subject from a different perspective, Nithin Rao Kumblekar feels that the market has been changing in different directions for the last few years. He attributes this restlessness in the industry to the ever-growing and ever-evolving development in the available platforms. “Maybe all were confused and didn’t know what medium works best for the brand. As we all know, print media has been diminishing for the last few years. And most of us had no clue what true digital marketing is, many creative ideas got rejected because the client was unsure where to put the money,” said Nithin. This disquiet in the industry reflects in the briefs the artists receive.
The story-based illustrations no longer desired due to time constraints. In its stead, a plethora of creative methods got developed for the illustrations. These works of art are no longer confined to print media they are also being used in digital and television commercials. “Grey Worldwide, Delhi approached me to illustrate characters from their television commercial for car rental brand Revv. Initially, it was for the online ads, but later they decided to have these illustrations to be part of the commercial as well,” explained Nithin.
Just as print media, illustrators for online advertisements also have various format and size specifications. “In some cases, it is difficult to have one single layout which will adapt to different sizes. McCann Bangalore was designing creatives for promoting an event for TVS called MotoSoul. The event had many activities; clubbing all these activities together and then designing the ads would be a nightmare. So, the creative team asked me to create the illustration in a way that all the characters should be different layers so that they can move the required activities and characters from the illustration to fit different sizes and executions,” said Nithin, illuminating his personal experience.
Nithin has also observed a rise in demand for illustrations in small, local brands. He attributes this to the increasing exposure due to digital medium, filling him with hope for a brighter future for design. “I have no clue how the market will change in the coming days. But I’m sure illustration will never go out of fashion. It certainly evolves with every step.”