Illustrations can be used to explain things we don’t really talk about!
Creative designer Muhammad Sajid discusses the roadmap to good illustrations, his love for Calicut and the nuances of being an illustrator.
“Art plays a huge part in my life. Art is my life and I live with art. It helps me speak to the world through my fingers and I feel it is a good medium to explain things we cannot literally talk about,” says artist Muhammad Sajid. The Bangalore-based artist, who has been creating digital art for about eight years now, took up art professionally after graduating from school. “I realised that I should learn more things that I am interested in. So I started focusing on designing and creating illustrations after my twelfth grade.”
Though he works as a creative designer in Bangalore, Sajid’s heart and home lie in Calicut, a village located in the state of Kerala. “My village is full of greenery, and the beauty of it inspire me. That is why I try to incorporate some of the plants and other elements into my work,” says Sajid, whose love for his hometown led to the creation of the series of his successful illustrations titled ‘Home’. “I moved to Bangalore in 2014 and after a while, I started missing my hometown. One day, I drew my home with some natural elements along with greenery from my memory. This led to the creation of ‘Home’, a project which featured different houses around the world and were illustrated in my style and colour. It received a good response from the audience and I loved creating it as well, so this led to the start of architectural illustrations.”
As the houses featured in Sajid’s illustrations are from all over the world, it is needless to say that they comprise a blend of classic and contemporary structures. When asked about whether he found either of the two challengings, he says, “The challenges came while illustrating classic houses because contemporary ones are more simplified and have geometric shapes such as squares and circles whereas classic houses are made of multiple layers and carved designs. I would say that classic houses are more difficult to draw than contemporary houses. Creating classic houses through digital art is a challenge.”
Sajid’s illustrations are filled with bold colours and vivid patterns. When asked about how he manages to balance out the colour composition, he says, “Striking the balance between different colours comes only with practice. When I start thinking of drawing, I initially think of the overall look and feel, so I try to capture that feeling I got from the scratch into the final product. Everything depends on the artists’ freedom, but if you share your work on social media, taking the audience’s perspective into consideration is important. I cannot simply add random colours to my illustrations, especially if I’m drawing a portrait or human figure as colours for such digital art must be chosen carefully.”
His portraits comprise striking facial details as well as convey the depth of the character. “I cannot simply add random colours to my illustrations, especially if I’m drawing a portrait or human figure as colours for such digital art must be chosen carefully. For me, drawing someone’s portrait is not a big challenge so I don’t follow the usual portrait style and try to create something interesting. This involves capturing the personality of the subject and their features into the portrait so the audience can relate to them and experience the same emotions while observing it.
Sajid has worked on a number of projects over the years, of which he recalls interesting ones for Adobe’s iPad release and Google Doodle. “For the Adobe release, the brief was to create something that was open and only bound by imagination; so I felt it had to have a good amount of fine detailing. It was a work that required a lot of patience with the composition and the process took quite some time. My takeaway from such a big project was realising that you should never stop dreaming big, no matter what.” As for the Google Doodle project, he adds, “The illustration was meant to be a tribute to the late actress Zohra Sehgal – so I had to watch a few of her movies to brush up memories of her and imbibe her grace into the illustrations. It was challenging to create a composition that was unique and yet had a nice way to stitch the typeface into it.”
While discussing the challenges an illustrator faces, he explains, “The downside to picking up projects is that sometimes it requires you to juggle work and it can take away that little bit of free time when you can just relax and observe things around you as this helps a lot with the creative process.”
When asked to give us an insight into his style, Sajid says, “I do not stick to any specific styles as I like to keep exploring different ones. My work has some natural elements, cultural inspirations, architectural touches and some surreal approaches and my favourite medium to work on is poster colour on paper but I mostly use digital art tools as it has everything. I also love watercolours, pastel and pencil.” About his process, he says, “The working process starts with scribbles and then I start sketching out my piece, after which I move into colouring. In most instances, I start painting directly without a brief in mind.” Few of Sajid’s trusty tools include Illustrator, Photoshop and Procreate.
Intrigued by his Behance bio – “The things I imagine in my head don’t exist or aren’t real, and so I’m compelled to create them the way that I see it,” On asking if he thinks artists should find inspiration from their thoughts instead of relying on external sources, he said, “I’m not quite sure, but it’s difficult to say because all the things you imagine will pop up in your brain through your inspiration, or your dream, isn’t it?” said Sajid, giving us some food for thought.