1

The Mahabharata has been told and depicted in various forms and formats. However, Freelance Illustrator and Concept Artist, Mukesh Singh, never felt satisfied and believed there was more to the story. In Graphic India’s project 18 Days, he illustrates the characters and their stories in a whole new light.

Jayadrath and Duryodhan

CG: Your artwork is a tribute to India’s rich mythology and culture. What gravitated you towards the subject of Mahabharata? As an illustrator, how do you relate to the story and the characters? How is it different from other projects that you’ve worked on?

MS: “Whatever is here is found elsewhere. But what is not here, is nowhere else”. This is the Mahabharata. It is the epic of epics, one that can be told again and again, generation after generation and still ring true. For all of their vain glorious powers, all the warriors, kings and queens are human, susceptible to the species’ frailties. Each character is a story in itself and the epic beautifully traces their lives from birth to eventual death. Read it with an expansive view of the affairs of men and Gods or choose your favourite character and walk with them as they make their way through life. Whoever you are, you will find something in the book to relate to and make of it what you will. At a personal level, compared to other projects, it was different in the sense that while I was already familiar with every major character it was also an opportunity to revisit them. But this time I was not part of the audience. I found myself set loose in a familiar world where I could not just wonder the what ifs, but also act upon my convictions.

The Mahabharata
Enter Man God
Mahabharata
Ravan

CG: Before you could manifest the story in your own style, how did you study the script and understand the storyline? Was it as simple as reading a book, or like a writer? Did you spend some time living in India and soaking in the environment?

MS: I was born in India and have stayed here my entire life. When it comes to Mahabharata, every Indian is familiar with it. I grew up, like most kids do, reading illustrated storybooks based on the epic as well following comic book version published by Amar Chitra Katha. Not just that, my father played a major role by narrating anecdotes from the scripture. This was then followed by television series, that gave 2D character form a 3D appeal. They had become real and have remained so ever since.

The Mahabharata
Markandeya Oracle Entrance
Mahabharata
Takshak

CG: You have given the Mahabharata a twist of your own. How do you describe your style? What was it that you experimented with and changed around? What remained the same?

MS: The modern audience has a keen and sophisticated understanding of the narrative design. They are beneficiaries of an accelerated volution of the storytelling process that started with the invention of the printing press and refined further with each succeeding generation of newer forms of communication mediums. Combine this with their familiarity with modern technology and it isn’t difficult to sell the idea of a hyper advanced civilization of a bygone era that could communicate across vast distances or wield destructive weapons embedded in something as small as an arrow head. I also trust their evolved sense of understanding to familiarize themselves quickly with an unfamiliar cast of characters.

Mahabharata
Krishna
Mahabharata
Radha Krishna

If we shift our gaze from the core USP of Mahabharata, which is of course its multi-layered characters, to its fascinating world of highly evolved technology, it isn’t difficult to envision its larger than life aura. While other interpretations of this timeless epic have done enormous justice to its characters, few, if any, have looked beyond them to its setting, its environment, its grandeur, its scale, its theatre stage where the lives of its players played themselves out. I had remained dissatisfied with earlier visual interpretations of the Mahabharata world. Armed with these inferences, I immersed myself with world building of 18 Days. Some images I had carried for a long time in my head, some suggested themselves based on Grant Morrison’s scripts, the writer of 18 Days. It also helped that I had spent a lot of time with its characters, through the works of others and my own interpretation of their psyche. In 18 Days the characters have remained the same, at least as I see them. Their outwards appearances though have changed. I wanted the audience of today to identify and accept not just the character’s inner selves but their outer ones too, which are external manifestations of their inner selves.

Arjun Invokes War godes

CG: If you look through India’s depiction of the Mahabharata, it appears more colourful and vibrant. Any specific reason why you chose to work with dark shades and hues? What is the overall feeling you wish to create through your designs? 

MS: Impending doom perhaps? For all of their boasts and chest thumping, the characters meet their maker in the end. Some believed that they will survive the war. So they go all out heroic, in their quest to leave their mark on what they know will be an immortal event, this 18-day war. At the end, it was a pyrrhic victory for the Pandavs. Arjun questions the war in the beginning and Yudhistir in the end. What has changed?

Bhem Beserk

CG: This one’s fairly straightforward; how you do manage to make violence look so beautiful? What features and characteristics do you need to balance with to make your artwork come across that way?

MS: Ah! I don’t know how to respond to that. Violence can never be beautiful. If it appears beautiful, it is only during its build-up phase, when primal anticipation overwhelms the senses. The aftermath is always ugly. A mundane analysis suggests few things. Maybe the ornate designs in the drawings coupled with composition choices give it that sense of beauty. It also helps that the art itself isn’t hyper realistic. The line art based style may also have something to do with the pleasing appearance of the images. Or perhaps it is because I knew the inevitable fate of each character. I gave them their moments of glory.

Andhaka -Pimple
Mahabharata
Bheem challenges

CG: No doubt people are smitten by India’s roots in history and culture. So after the Mahabharata, what’s next? In what other ways do you wish to explore Indian culture and mythology?

MS: As of now I am taking a break from stories based on Indian mythology and working on other things. But the intervening hiatus may be good. If I come back, I will hopefully have some new perspective. That is for the future though. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.

Mahabharata
Abhimanyu Slaughter

Published in Issue 28

This Illustration Special is best to know why and how illustration as a popular medium is taking the design world by storm! From evolution of illustrations to its place in the world today, renowned designers and illustrators like Abhishek Singh, Mukesh Singh, Archan Nair, Alicia Souza, Raj Khatri with some international talent such as Fil Dunsky from Russia, Iain Macarthur and Richard Field from UK, who live and breathe illustration, would be the right people to gain some insight from. With many more talents to explore with great insights and excellent techniques, again a fully packed issue is waiting to amaze you!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

India’s vividness is a great inspiration for designers galore. From culture and traditions to behaviour and insights, a plethora of concepts lie hidden in this multicultural land. Graphic Designer, Somdutt Sarkar, explores this rich culture to translate them into memorable design.

 

Embedded with cultural symbolism, his design combines Indian animals with a truck-art inspired appeal to create wall art that stands out. Quirky, native and attention grabbing, Somdutt’s artwork is laden with patterns, Indian motifs and meaning. Creating designs that satiate not only standards of aesthetics, but also practicality and timelessness, he says that designs can’t be simply a frivolous act of creation. “I try and incorporate some meaning in my designs, be it using an obscure art form or giving work to skilled craftsmen.” says Somdutt. Surely, his designs are not just show pieces.

 

Connect Here

 

Design
Tiger
Design
Buffalo
Design
Cow
Design
Lion
Design
Elephant

Illustrator, Parvati Pillai, tells us how trying out new styles and forms of illustration are key for a designer to grow at one’s craft and expand one’s scope of work in current context.

Illustration
Nordic Rebels
Illustration
Nordic Rebels
Illustration
Nordic Rebels
Illustration
Nordic Rebels
Illustration
Kamaladevi 115th Birthday Doodle

Various Styles Takes Conscious Effort

The art style and colour palette are very important to Parvati in storytelling, especially if designing for a particular target audience in mind. She tries to use colours and intricate patterns to incorporate various illustration styles. Like most artists, she has a natural inclination to a particular colour and illustration style. As a result of such tendencies, it takes a lot of effort to move away from it and consciously make choices to choose something new and work on something out of the box.

Illustration
SilverKris Magazine
Illustration
Poster. Designed for Spring Demoday at Medialab, Aalto University
Illustration
Designs created for a wide range of products in the Chumbak’s Gold Collection

This challenge is what makes illustrating through various styles exciting and motivating. Also, this way ensures that one keeps coming up with new stuff from time to time without getting entangled in the same kind of work. One can only unearth their potential by discovering new forms, mediums, styles and so on in the process of trying to create fresh designs or illustrative work.

Illustration
Egg Skillet. Sunny spring recipe for 36 Days of Food
Illustration
Flying Dreams. Collaboration with Taxi Fabric was celebrating the concept of Mumbai as India’s 'City of Dreams'
Illustration
Flying Dreams. Collaboration with Taxi Fabric was celebrating the concept of Mumbai as India’s 'City of Dreams'
Illustration
Spain. Tried to capture the magic and the essence of some fascinating countries

It is a Lot Like Science

It is all about experimentation. Parvati constantly tries to explore new subjects and experiment with new techniques. She aims to keep herself motivated and to keep practising different illustration styles in her free time. Her MacBook Pro and Wacom graphics tablet are her apparatus in this process, thereby – the two things she cannot work without. Likewise, she also enjoys working with inks and clay while she is currently exploring knitting and embroidery. This serves as a strong and healthy way to work with different mediums and see the potential that lies in them.

Illustration
Dream Machine. Collaboration with Taxi Fabric, celebrating the concept of Mumbai as India’ 'City of Dreams'
Illustration
Dream Machine. Collaboration with Taxi Fabric, celebrating the concept of Mumbai as India’ 'City of Dreams'
Illustration
Print for Food Mat

Parvati spends a major portion of a project’s time on ideation and iteration. She likes to take her time with the composition of the illustration and carefully choose her colour palettes. She also tries to evoke feelings of joy and bring out the intricacies of everyday life in my work. For her, illustration is a form of reflection and is inspired from life.

Illustration
Print for Coaster. Design created for Chumbak's dinning range
Illustration
A social media Illustration for Chumbak, celebrating spirit of Onam with Chumbak

For Money, Planning Ahead Always Helps

It is important to always have enough savings for emergencies, feels Parvati, as they may arise at any point of time without any indication. Likewise, she always tries to take up some projects for paying clients so that she has sufficient money to explore her creative and artistic endeavours. For some people, this may be a compromise but it is essential to her so that she may be able to sustain her creativity. Each one has their own style and approach to doing things, and whatever works for one is what one must do as the same size does not really fit all. Finally, practice and hard work are the most important things.

Illustration
Lebanon. Celebrating the different cultures found around the world
Illustration
Moving to Helsinki. Personal Illustration capturing the magic of my first autumn

One must be tenacious and maintain a positive attitude. Even if luck does not favour, persistence can take one more than just quite far; it can make all the difference. Even luck favours those who are persistent in their journey and don’t back down in spite of any odds they might face along the way.

Illustration
Finland. Celebrating the different cultures found around the world
Illustration
Print for Food Mat. Design created for Chumbak's dinning range
Issue-42-Cover

Published in Issue 42

Every designer wish to be independent and willing to jump into the word of freelance but most of them unaware of the fundamental challenges of the initial phase. So, we dedicated this issue to freelancers and interviewed some established and talented designers to dig deep for the expert advice. Kevin Roodhorst an experienced freelancer from Amsterdam, has recently shifted to be a full-timer with an Agency says “Freelancing is not all roses!” and shared the best way to survive as a freelancer. So, whether you are a freelancer or planning to be one, this issue is a must-read. Go ahead and order your copy here or subscribe to not miss any future issues!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Juan Casini is a multidisciplinary designer juggling various mediums and keeping his passion alive by traveling and designing. He is a free spirit who loves to draw, travel and experience new things. Here, he talks about his journey and inspirations of becoming a designer.

The Snow Island.
SkyMath - Educational App
The Turtle Island.

CG: How did your tryst with design begin?

Juan: I started working as a 2D game artist for a video game company while I was in the early years of college. I learned a lot there and it was the perfect way to start exploring the video game industry and understand how such a complex product as a game is made. I found that I could really use my illustrations skills there so I focused entirely in the video game field and I worked in more than 50 game developments since then.

 

Today, design for mobile apps is my main area of expertise, collaborating in small-scale game development for indie studios to major developments and educational apps.

Hanuman.
Ishtar. A personal project to show how animals can be gods for many cultures, mythologies and religions across the world.

CG: Any role models who inspired you early in life?

Juan: My father used to draw with me when I was a child and I’ve always been supported to get involved in artistic studies. I am very lucky for the education I got at such an important time of formation of a person, as is the childhood. But the most important thing is that they always encouraged me to do what I love. So I can definitely say that my parents are my role models

Space Cantina Game

CG: What influences you for your artworks?

Juan: I really like Japanese anime and the way they handle expression and visual impact. I’ve watched a lot of series and movies, thus animation and Manga are a great influence for me. I also believe nature is art in its pure form, so I keep traveling and constantly learning by watching and living on this beautiful planet.

Travel
Mammoth in Istanbul. A personal project, done when Juan started the freelance journey
Anunnaki. A personal project to show how animals can be gods for many cultures, mythologies and religions across the world.
Cebolla in Tokyo. A collection of postcards of our nomad journey with Flor Bisagno.
Live Forever. Contribution to a t-shirt design contest for Backseries (Spain).

CG: What do you want to express through your artworks?

Juan: I always try to give the best of me in all the projects I get involved in, and that means not only putting your best energy on it but also try to create a powerful and stimulating experience for the user or audience. So I try to keep the level of expression very high, adding many details and playing a lot with the colour palette, so no matter what the product is about, the eyes of the viewer can be positively affected in a more subtle and deep visual experience.

The Thunder Island.
The Rain Island.

CG: How do you avoid creative burnout or what do you do incase you feel creatively exhausted?

Juan: Initially during the early days of my freelance career I found myself working for too many hours on too many projects at the same time. Eventually, I realised that organisation and discipline are essential but it’s also important to take days off, rest well, go out and explore nature to have refreshing and exciting experiences as much as possible. It’s imperative to find your own rhythm, but most important, finding what you love to do and stop seeing your job as an obligation. It takes time and a lot of energy to stay away from the comfort zone, but if you can accomplish that I promise that it can change your life completely. Nowadays, a creative burnout with this nomad journey is really rare, when you are constantly discovering new places and cultures! It is just the best for your mind and soul

Crypto Tower Game
Crypto Tower Game

Published in Issue 33

We all face it! But everyone has their own unique way to come out of it, in this issue we try to explore different ideas of handling the ‘Creative Burnout’. The most common of all was #travelling, through everyone do it in their own unique style. Like Luke Ritchie from South Africa finds the nature and mountains as the best source of inspiration while Sushant Ajnikar says riding his bike and meeting four-legged loyal friends, dogs, on the way is the best way to learn. So, pack your bags and don’t forget to subscribe your copy before you leave!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

If you’re talented, you will be noticed. The world is full of freelance opportunity these days, just that one must know which and when to take one. A successful designer is one that find his/her niche in the design world, believes young illustrator Ashish Subhash Boyne. Here, he tells us how showcasing everyday stories in a refreshing manner can open doors to a ‘not so every day’ life!

Freelance
Character Design
Freelance
AGHORA.
Freelance
AGHORA.

Find inspiration in everyday things that are omnipresent

People often pass by without taking notice of things that they encounter every single day. For executing story illustrations, these are the places you need to look. The skill is to give mundane life a refreshing and ‘never seen or heard before’ appeal. Like Surmai that showcases the story of a small boy who lives near fishing docks or 100 Kisses that shows how a cup of tea passes through so many people of different backgrounds. Just keep in mind, the purpose of the work is to be understood by everyday people. The execution needs to be simple. Don’t forget that fantasy is all around and finding a unique niche is the key to getting recognised.

Freelance
AGHORA.
Freelance
AGHORA.
Freelance
Character Design
Freelance
Character Design

Education prepares the talent within you

Most people are born with certain talents that define their future. Ask any designer to take a peek back into their childhood; they’d tell you they loved things like drawing, comics and imaginative forms. As you go grow up and finally get into school to do what you love doing, you start to understand yourself better. The vague question of ‘what do you want to do?’ starts to become clearer. Illustration art needs high observation of the subject matter that needs to be combined with your skill to visualise and express the idea in a simpler way. Studying design helps you do that. It also leaves you an initial portfolio that introduces you to the outside world.

Freelance
Illustration for BAJAJ ELECTRICAL'S "Magic of Light "
Freelance
Illustration for BAJAJ ELECTRICAL'S "Magic of Light "
Freelance
DEATH TO LIFE
Freelance
Tribe Spirit Hunter

The outside world is a self-learning experience

The transition from a student to a professional is a gradual process where change settles in with time and comes the wider understanding of client needs, concepts and ideas. Hard work, dedication and passion are the three key attributes that you need to bring to the class every day of your professional life.

Freelance
SURMAI.
Freelance
SURMAI.
Freelance
100 KISSES.
Freelance
100 KISSES.

A satisfied client is a gateway to the freelance career

When you’re just about to start off to try and make a mark for yourself in the big world of design, often most people wonder ‘How do I do this?”. It’s simple. Concentrate on things that come to you. Whether it’s your first assignment or project it’s important to make each and everything you do unique and fulfilling as per the client’s requirements. The rest is history.

Freelance
100 KISSES.
Freelance
FIXTRAL CAMPAIGN ILLUSTRATION

Published in Issue 22

Dedicated to the talented design graduates who are not just looking to work but seeking experience in order to realise the greater goal of life. The issue features various designers from India and abroad. Kevin Roodhorst from The Netherlands realised his goal so early in life that propelled him to start his career as a designer as young as 13. Ashish Subhash Boyne, a student of Sir JJ Institute of Applied Art realised his dream while studying when he started doing freelance projects, which allow him to express his free thoughts. To name a few talents we have Vivek Nag from Fine Arts from Rachna Sansad Mumbai, Simran Nanda from Pearl Academy New Delhi, Anisha Raj from MAEER MIT Institute of Design Pune, Giby Joseph from Animation and Art School Goa and much more. This issue gives a fresh perspective of talented graduates and their unique approach to design.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Hailing from Manipur, Thokchom Sony celebrates the natural beauty, customs and traditions of his hometown through his work. Inspired by patterns from Indian handloom and textile design, he combines it with his illustrations, which ultimately brings out the unique characters.

Manipur
Wild orchid

The magic of Manipur

“I love nature” says designer, Thokchom Sony, and we don’t doubt it! Nature is celebrated through strong themes and yet he is rooted in his hometown. The beautiful Manipuri fabric patterns weave a story with portraits as he imparts socially relevant messages.

Manipur
Indian Ballerinas.

Drawing major inspiration from Potloi, a cylindrical skirt worn by the brides and dancers in Manipur and the flowers from the state result in unique characteristics or a personality that are detailed extensively. Working in details, especially with hair, eyes and skin textures Thokchom finds natural skin tones with freckles, moles and blush so beautiful. Incorporating traditional elements like chandon on nose, tanakha on cheeks helps in bringing out the originality and ethnicity in the characters.

Lily girl.
client

Published in Issue 37

The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing. 

So Order Your Copy Now!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 47

 

Ad Here

Vijaya Laxmi exhibits the power that a woman possesses through her illustration series, ‘Devi’, ‘Shiva-Shakti’ and various other series, all are an exploration of her mythological concepts allowing viewers to see beyond the obvious.

Obsession with drawing and painting is Vijaya Laxmi’s genetic code. Pursuing art as a free-time hobby flowered into a passion of extremes where she could forgo sleep to complete canvasses and thus began her creative journey as a professional artist.

 

Also practicing clay modelling, she credits herself with a substantial part in promoting the concept of ‘Green Ganeshas’.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Shivgami

Themed Concepts of the Modern Divine

Sensing and feeling divinity within her and outside of her, she has explored this divinity through her artwork in a modern and contemporary manner. Her work is mostly figurative created using oil and acrylics on canvas in subtle blues and greys, attempting to convey a story.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Saraswati

According to Vijayalaxmi, the female form has allure, grace and beauty emerging from the gentleness of form, the curves – be it the nose, the neck, the torso, the bosom, the waist; the softness of lines of fingers and toes convey a sense of movement. There is remarkable strength in what to the eye looks merely dainty.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Shivaay

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Towards Peace

The Devi Series

To convey the message that each female has a different rupa, she has created a series, Devi, which is a reflection of her unhappiness where people see a woman in goddess but not the other way round. Unlike calendar art, she has depicted the various Devi in a simple manner, without the much elaborate attributes of goddesses with heavy ornamentation.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Kaali
Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Durga

She says that simplicity is itself the beauty of a message: ‘Here She is – now you draw your own meaning, interpret it, but here are my guidelines.’

 

Laxmi in her work is depicted as smiling – as everyone wishes to be blessed by her bounteous grace. Devi Kali’s face projects the anger or rage at injustice. Like Kali, Durga too has a more chiseled face, emphasising their strength, both destructive and creative.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Shivalankaar

The Shiv-Shakti

The Shiv-Shakti series is where she sees Shiv and Shakti as one – separate and together but spiritually one. It is a glorious representation of souls, their quest for merger and the attainment of the moment when they are immersed into each other.

 

Viajaya Laxmi sees Shiva not just in a male form but also a female – the ardhanarishwar. He manifests himself in a complex dual form; the two forms merged in a manner where it is difficult to point where the male form ends and the female begins.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Shiva-Shakti

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Shivangini

She has showcased the constant effort of Shakti to merge with Shiva in the He-She element through a series of paintings like Shakti seeking his attention; Shakti with the power of her will, she herself transforms into Shiva in the posture of meditation, but with her feminine physical attributes intact; Shakti trying to create a Shiva into whom she can merge.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Natsati

Traditional is Evergreen

For Vijaya Laxmi, the visual language on the canvas is the marriage of an idea, a thought, the medium and the expression using the mediums. Even an ordinary thing has to be beautified or the art is lesser for it.

Vijaya Laxmi - Devata or Devi | Creative Gaga
Prayers

For her, digital art is flat and does not reflect the energy that the strokes of a brush provide, imparting life into a work of art. The computer screen’s size and the size of her canvases are of no comparison. Working on an actual canvas scale is a stupendous realisation that the good old brush can turn a trick or two which machines may not be able to.

Published in Issue 46

We all design for different audiences and always keep trying to figure out what they would need and how will they react to our designs? But, one audience who is the youngest of all and most difficult to predict is ‘Kids’. So, to get more clarity, we focused on animation design, an extensively used medium to influence these young ones. This issue is full of veterans advice and a lot of inspirations throughout for every creative soul. So, go ahead

 

Order Your Copy!