Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

Stories lay at the core and crux of most art forms. Depicting the same, NID student Yamini Sujan, elaborates on her own storytelling process through illustration.

Yamini Sujan is an aspiring Animator and illustrator currently studying at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. A keen illustrator focused on storytelling, she finds expression through 2D animation, 'Ribbon' and 'Whilom' being her pilot classroom projects.

CG. You seem like a dreamer from your work. Is it so? What influences your works most and how?

Yamini. Real-life experiences are the key to most of my works. Small stories that I want to tell. They might be the nostalgic ones or the current issues happening around. I tend to add a few fictional elements to all those experiences. Maybe that's why I look like a dreamer.

CG. Tell us about NID Ahmedabad. How are the experiences as an art student and personally too?

Yamini. NID is beyond words. As I always say, NID is like a home away from home. It has a major role in improving me as an individual. To grow, learn, unlearn, come out of my comfort zone, explore and so much more. Design with more ethics and empathy is what they stand for. Storytelling and the aesthetic part of art is what I chose NID for. I've had opportunities to meet very interesting personalities in different fields in the form of guides, faculties and college mates, all of whom I adore.

CG. Please tell us about your use of dark shades, vibrant colours and watercolour textures across your illustrations. Please elaborate on the idea.

Yamini. As a kid, I took my initial steps into art through traditional mediums involving water, oil and acrylic colours. That is where the style comes from. Most of my artworks have textures and I'm trying to recreate the feel of these mediums digitally. Traditional art has a huge place in my heart.

CG. Which clients and line(s) of work are you keenly looking forward to and what makes you choose them?

Yamini. Currently, I'm more into creating Illustrations and exploring the aesthetic and emotional sides to them. I also wish to create illustrations for books, concept arts, background art and storyboarding. Likewise, I really want to be part of good projects and create my own little stories alongside.

CG. Do you intend to study further or not really? What's your perspective behind the choice?

Yamini. I'm always wanting and willing to learn something new. I currently plan to learn something that enhances my storytelling skills. Literature, sociology and psychology are subjects I've always been interested in. They would be a really great way to improve my view of storytelling as, in a way, they're all connected.

CG. Which artists would you like to collaborate with, if you were given a wish? What about them draws you?

Yamini. There are so many great artists and studios that I have always wanted to collaborate with. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya is a great person with whom I have always wanted to collaborate with, as I have earlier. He has been my faculty and guide, too. Currently, I'm working on a Children's book which is sponsored by him and Swati Shelhar. I've worked on some background art of his and Kalp's film, 'Wade', too. We always learn something new from Upamanyu and the way he takes care of the artwork – that's something I always admire. Same with Debjyothi Saha. He is an amazing senior and creates very unique content. There are many more college mates, seniors and emerging filmmakers whom I'd like to work with. Also studios like Ghost animation, Vaibhav Studios, Eeksaurous, Eunoians, Kokkaachi... The list is endless. They all create the best animations in India.

CG. How has your experience been in learning your craft at a premier institute?

Yamini. Studying at NID is an exploration. It gives us the opportunity to explore areas we've never tried before. Film-making was never a thing in my farthest dreams. Yet, at the end of the day, I created a small animated film. Learning practically is the main aspect of NID. Several group projects and discussions (inside and outside the class) helped me to grow as a designer and human. Even the small talks we have during chai-time matter. These talks and ideas may turn into films or books one day.

CG. Please take us through your most satisfying project, from start to end.

Yamini. 'Ribbon' is the most satisfying project I've ever done and is very close to my heart. The project is inspired by some real-life experiences.

Fear always exists in our society – most women can relate to this situation. Eve teasing itself is an outrageous modesty. Somehow, though, it's so common in our society. That induces insecurities. As a female and most of my friends have experienced some or the other kind of inappropriate behaviour; that is where this story came from. It has real feelings, though it has been set in a fictional background. Most of the elements in it are real.

I was really confused about this project, initially; I didn't know how people would take it. However, at the end of the project, there were some, including those from my close circle, who talked to me about similar experiences that were pestering them. I was really moved by their responses. They could relate to that fear and come talk to me about it. Catharsis, the flow of emotions, happened. I listened, consoled, gained strength and we connected. It was then that I realized the magic of storytelling and connecting.

CG. Please tell us about your animation films, Whilom and Ribbon. 

Yamini. Both Ribbon and Whilom are my classroom projects. Whilom is the first-ever animated film we made. It was a group project of the 4th semester, guided by Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, where we learnt the baby steps of film-making. The pre-production stage, production stage and everything involved were new. All six members with different ideas came together with the purpose of creating a unified film. It was an interesting process and learning, on the whole. We split the roles to reduce the amount of work per person.

'Ribbon', meanwhile, was an individual project. Guided by Suman Chakraborthy, all the pre-production and production (including sound design) was solely my responsibility. Most of these were new to me but I tried. And Ribbon was born.

This project is really close to my heart! I was so overwhelmed when it got selected for the Bangalore International Short Film Festival and some other festivals too. Most importantly, it is the responses of the viewers that drives me forward. I hope I can create more such films, illustrations and stories.

Creative Gaga