Established illustrator Samji provides exciting insights regarding the eld of illustration, sharing his techniques, tips and tricks, while also opening up about the challenges and hurdles presented by this pandemic.
Samji’s fondness for art was carefully nurtured since childhood. His first step into the realm of art was through the field of animation. “It was not a particularly successful stint. I began doing a few odd jobs to keep myself afloat. Following which, I took up BFA in Applied Art. But I had to drop out from that course in my third year, thus putting an end to my formal art education,” said Samji. After several years of exploration, he realised that his true love lies in the field of illustrations and thus began his career as a freelance illustrator.
“Brilliant, vivid colours, the gorgeous textures and zealous energy exuded by the artworks are key signatures of Samji’s illustrations. Through years of experimentation and exploration, Samji developed a distinct style, thus establishing himself as a talented illustrator in the industry.“
The bright, rich colours set Samji’s illustrations apart and give the pieces a burst of energy. “I used to work with a minimal set of colours. The hues you see in my work now are the ones I used to stay away from, simply because I was afraid of using them. I was not comfortable using highly saturated and vibrant colours. Then one day, I found the courage to get out of my comfort zone and experiment; and that made all the difference,” explained the artist.
The richness and brilliance of the colours in an illustration are attained by adjusting and experimenting with the hues, saturation and brightness of a tone. “My process varies according to need. If the work is for a client, I follow the brand guidelines and other factors to set the colour palette. For personal projects, I start with random colours. I use complementary colours to differentiate between subject and background. After which, I keep experimenting till I hit the mark. In fact, HSB (Hues, Saturation and Brightness) is one of my favourite tools that I constantly use in my works,” shared Samji, illuminating the process behind his illustrations.
“Lighting is another crucial factor in an illustration. “When it comes to lighting, I focus on highlights. I save it for the end because highlights are to an illustration what a soul is to a body; it provides life to the image,” commented the illustrator.“
But the colours in our lives dulled at the wake of Coronavirus pandemic which shook this world. Our lives were drastically altered, and the pandemic affected various walks of life in various degrees. Hence, it is but natural to strive to understand the extent of its effect on the art industry in India. “The pandemic could have had monstrous effects on the art industry if not for the Internet and social platforms like Instagram. As with any change, adapting can take time, and it can affect your mental health. This is especially true for artists who are constantly seeking to get inspired, be it by taking a walk or talking to a person’s face to face. It is challenging for an artist to keep his creative juices flowing when his wings are cut,” commented Samji.
A significant part of the art industry is freelancers. Providing critical insight into the lives of the freelancers, the illustrator observed, “As a freelancer, I’m used to working from home; hence I didn’t find much of a difference. The mass layoffs resulted in an increase in the number of freelancers which in turn led to more competition within the industry. The only way for us to keep up is by carving a niche and standing out in professional platforms, which is difficult to many, including me.
It is quite a challenge to produce quality works and maintains your visibility in social media at the same time,” said Samji. And to cope with these sudden changes, artists devised various methods to stay active professionally. “I marked my presence in platforms where I could get potential work enquiries or opportunities. These included social media like Instagram, where we have to constantly stay engaged and be easily available,” explained the artist.
“But it was not all grey and dreary, the pandemic also resulted in positive changes and improvements. “The work inquiries, collaborations and potential clients increased during this pandemic for me. I am not sure of the exact reason – perhaps it is because of my improved effort at the online presence or the lack of full-time employees in firms and a higher rate of outsourcing to freelancers,” said Samji.
With proper planning and smart management, it is indeed possible to cope with the hurdles of the pandemic. Offering invaluable strategies, the artist shares his suggestions, tips and tricks to fellow illustrators and freelancers. “We have proved that it is possible to work from home without any hassle. The next step is to maximise our visibility and availability across all platforms, especially if you are a freelancer. Another important step is to build a reliable community since we cannot downplay the extent of security that a well-built community can bring in a situation like this. So, I’d suggest that we all make an effort in bringing this community up. At the same time, please take care that you do not overwhelm yourself with the use of social media by comparing your work with someone else’s. Try to limit your use to get inspired or promote your work and not bring yourself down”.