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Today, caricatures are not only synonymous with political and social commentary in newspapers countrywide but also an inseparable part of various digital expressions. Their conscious and sub-conscious existence in our psyche and social interactions cannot be ignored. All thanks to a wide range of talented caricature artists India continues to hone. We highlight 11 of them.

“Caricature – a picture, description or imitation of a person in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.”

Colloquially also labeled as cartoons, the word “Caricature” comes from the Italian words “Carico” and “Caricare”, translating ‘to load’ or to ‘exaggerate’. Having gained momentum since Italian siblings Annibale and Agostino Carracci applied this semantic to their proportionally blown-up portrait sketches in the 1590s, caricature today as an art form enjoys exclusive social appreciation worldwide.

While India has a vast history in the evolution of its art, transition in the consciousness of modern-day caricature here came to be at different times and places through the course and context of Indian politics, particularly as India’s independence movement gained momentum through print.

The British Punch had begun to print and circulate Indian vernacular editions in colonial India since the 1870s. Soon, an increasing number of Indian artists began to make their presence felt in print and caricatures started to take nationalistic tones as their impact on the movement came to be realised.

Fast forward to contemporary times, illustrators and caricaturists are increasingly flourishing across the landscape of Indian design. Here are 11 of these noteworthy caricature artists:

1. Bharat KV

Bharat KV is the founder of BKV Arts as a caricaturist. His works present a light-hearted, vibrant and easygoing approach to things. He does this using multiple shades of bright colours fused with a particular emphasis on expressions. One can easily grasp the nature of his subjects without having to worry about whether they know the actual personalities in reality or not.


2. Chetan Patil

A BFA from Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art, freelance Illustrator and Visualiser Chetan Patil from Mumbai has worked with Hindustan Times Newspaper and CreativeLand Asia. His caricatures are deeply graphic with the use of sharp colour tones, shapes, fonts and geometry. Unapologetically un-minimalistic, he mixes a range of complex elements within one frame. Almost a ‘not for the faint hearted’ kind of boldness in depiction.


3. Keya Mahata

Keya Mahata is a caricature and a concept artist presently working in a gaming production company. Her work exclusively features many-an influential fantasy and real-life women representing and exuding inspiration. Colours full of life and vigour, though with subtle lighting, represent the essence of her style. The dominance of the characters against their surroundings is a constant across her range of work, largely influenced by gaming.


4. Manoj Sinha

Manoj Sinha is currently associated with multiple Indian newspapers at the Hindustan Times group. His caricature works include not only portraits but also full-length representations of characters. Unhesitating to draw them as he sees them, he is a keen advocate of pencil-work in his displays. Though seeming to stem from a considerable influence of politics, his work also includes global influencers from various other areas such as sport, film and the likes.


5. Mahboob Raja

A self-taught caricaturist, Mahboob Raja’s nature of work features diverse mediums in the form of watercolour and oil works, both digitally and on canvas. Apart from having being an illustrator art teacher, he has been associated with making some popular Indian animated TV commercials. Raja’s caricatures significantly bear the strong application and impact of watercolour effects in his interpretation of personalities, adding a touch of innocence to his subjects as a whole.


6. Prasad Bhat

Prasad Bhat is the sole proprietor of Graphicurry, an independent artist design studio based in Bengaluru. His caricatures prominently exude a strong presence and application of digital elements, leading to a graphic comic-like presence. Prasad’s work predominantly features characters from a seemingly strong influence of many-an-international TV series, films and celebrities – Pulp Fiction, Friends, Brad Pitt and the likes. The use of deep, high contrasting colours uniformly exists across his depictions.


7. Ramanjit Kaur Gabri

Designers - Ramanjit Kaur Gabri

After long being a visualiser in an advertising agency, Mumbai-based, Ramanjit Kaur Gabri turned into a freelance illustrator and caricature artist. Her choice of subjects prominently features many-a-powerful women in clear reflections of their real-life personas – Saina Nehwal, Sudha Murthy, Mary Kom, Arundhati Roy and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw to name a few. Equally effective in pencil and colour, Ramanjit’s portraits are dynamic depictions against contrastingly no-nonsense plain backgrounds.


8. Shijo Varghese

A Fine Arts graduate from KSS School of Arts, Kottayam, Shijo Varghese started his career as an art teacher in his native village. The illustrator now based in Bengaluru is not shy to take outright liberty with asymmetrical geometric interpretations of his characters. His caricatures unapologetically present personalities beyond their socially perceived aura of “perfection”. Having authored three books, he now heads the design department at Planetsurf Creations.


9. Shesh Kiran

A Bengaluru-based caricature artist and Flash animator, Shesh Kiran, bears a decade of experience working with various multimedia outfits. Fun and quirky with vibrant colours, his characters come alive not just through their wide eyes and keen expressions but also through a keen amplification of their persona by effectively incorporating related accessories and surroundings elements as part of them. Simplicity that would especially appeal to the childlike; the not-so-serious kind.


10. Uday Mohite

Mumbai-based freelance Digital illustrator and caricature artist Uday Mohite’s strong depiction of hyper-realism evokes a mixed feeling of looking at a painting, sketch and photograph at the same time within a single frame. Caricatures of his subjects are not typically limited to the political arena but make for a good mix of characters from all around, especially film, television and social situations. The Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art grad has also been a part of several leading newspapers like DNA and Mid-Day.


11. Varun Rao

Varun Rao, identifying himself under the title of Vartoons, features portraits of various forms – humans, animals, pop art and so on. Mostly influenced from real life, he exaggerates facial features while attempting to bring the desired effect upon the viewer. With a conscious effort to maintain the primary essence of the character, he highlights significant traits, be it the comical or elegant sides. Acrylic paints, oil paints, colour pencils and digital mediums are his usual ‘weapons’ of choice’.

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When we look at great art we are amazed by its perfection. But what is carefully hidden from us is the toiling and hard work that goes behind the perfect piece of art. Chetan Patil unravels his thought behind the expressive caricature and his art in this insightful piece.

The Perfect Caricature
Hawaldar by Chetan Patil
The Perfect Caricature
HAMAL

Very few find their calling at a young age. The professional illustrator, Chetan Patil, is one such individual. Chetan has been enthusiastic about art since childhood, and a further push by his school teacher, sent him rolling in the direction of the world of art. He went on to take professional training in the commercial field of art, and there was no looking back.

The Perfect Caricature
Kasai
The Perfect Caricature
Kamwali by Chetan Patil
Human Shapes Patterns

Chetan makes great use of expressions in his work. He believes attaching emotions to an idea makes it far more impactful and believable. In most of his illustrations and his caricature art, he tries to create a connection by expressing his own emotions in the idea through appropriate visuals.

Human Shapes Patterns
Monday Love

Expressions, emotions and experiences are aspects that Chetan takes very seriously while creating his art. He pays a lot of attention to detail in his work and tries to make it as expressive as possible. Chetan believes that the quality of art and amount of work put into a project makes it a treat for the viewers.

Human Shapes Patterns
The Perfect Caricature
Chef by Chetan Patil

An underlying element in most of Chetan’s work is the exaggeration. For Chetan exaggeration takes art to the next level and gives it a larger than life feel. It intensifies the expressions of the subject and is great opportunity to demonstrate an entirely different perspective. A great story or a certain character can be represented only through exaggeration, believes Chetan.

The Perfect Caricature
COOLI by Chetan Patil
The Perfect Caricature
Garegewala

The Caricature Illustration Campaign

Chetan has created a spectrum of amazing work, but his caricature illustration campaign project is his favourite, which he did in college. The series illustrated common people from different walks of life, and he completed this series of 17 caricatures within a 10-day deadline. This particular project is special because it involved observations of different people – their daily life, habits, behaviours and professions.

The Perfect Caricature
Camera Boy

Chetan sees art and design emerging in India. Digital art is gaining traction and is rapidly developing. But still there is a long way to go before people truly understand the creative field, feels Chetan. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the creative industry in India, however, the focus should be design education awareness. The design field is constantly changing and evolving. Amazing art collaborations, conferences, creative events and discussions will certainly push the boundaries of the design world.

In terms of technique and medium, Chetan loves both the traditional hand-drawn and the digital one to create illustrations. Hand drawn techniques to provide a wide canvas to explore. However, for professional speed and quality, Chetan prefers the digital medium.

Inspiration is the backbone of creative work. Chetan draws his inspiration from nature, people, cultures, and everyday events. He also takes inspirations from all that is related to living and non-living. Some of the master artists that have been an influence on Chetan’s work are Steve Simpsons, Pascal, Jason Sellar and many others.

Malika Sarabhai
Drunk Man

Finally, the advice that Chetan would like to give the budding artists is that art is a never-ending learning process. Whether it is college, a job, a freelance project; at every stage learning occurs. Hard work and being abreast with new techniques and technology is part and parcel of the creative journey. It’s also important to have a social media presence for your work. Looking at the bigger picture, taking risks and embracing setbacks will only build you as a professional.

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Published in Issue 48

A Freelancer’s Life in India! Every day, with a dream of ‘Being Your Boss,’ many creative professionals jump into the pool of freelancing. But many are not well prepared for the life of the freelancer, which brings many challenges along with benefits. So to explore further, we interviewed many freelance illustrators and designers to get answers to the question you should ask before taking the final call of becoming your boss! So, if you are planning to or have already become a freelancer then this issue is a must-read for you.

 

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