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The illustrator Ruchi Shah reflects on how illustration changes or retains form as it travels from one medium to another.

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Cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.
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The making of the cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.

While the Canvas becomes the message, Illustration becomes the medium

The job of a canvas is to effectively communicate the purpose of illustration. At the same time, illustration is a fitting medium that communicates the purpose of design. Together, they allow a designer to look at things from unlikely angles, allowing one to economise resources and break distinctions. This makes illustration a hybrid of different disciplines like art, craft, architecture and photography. Thus, narrating pictorial stories of the constantly evolving world.

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Front and back cover for the children’s book Grimms Fairy Tales.

Stories happen through Connections

Whether literal, physical or humorous, it is the connection that makes the style complement the idea. Space-agnostic illustrations are more skill-driven than conceptually steered. Thereby making the style of illustration following the idea. In such cases, the key is to know what can and what can’t be achieved through your form. The possibilities and limitations often declare the idea. Once you know your style well, it becomes easy to explore your idea further.

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The world through my window. Poster for an annual competition held by Association of Illustrators.

In the artwork, ‘The World through my Window’, the idea is a jumble of what has caught the illustrator’s fancy while travelling, expressed through a pop-art-ish route. The messy, clean and cozy windows that she observed kicked off the visual approach in her mind. The approach took inspiration from her cluttered workspace that is always scattered with curios, boxes, containers and papers. All these objects rearranged themselves to create the visual. With small niches and spaces it worked perfectly as big or small windows and buildings. The artwork is buzzing during the day, but actually comes alive at night. Being created with a mixture of coloured semi-transparent papers, it can be lit up during the night.

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The Rainmaker. Illustration for a children’s book.

The medium tells you what to do

An illustrator should let the form of illustration take shape according to what the medium allows it to do. This essentially means one needs to know the medium well. Does it bend? Does it fold? Where does it want to go? What does it refuse to do? The answers to these questions determine how one should go about the form, using the chosen medium. Keep exploring, make mistakes, characterise these errors and finally, build on some of them. The enhancement of the imperfections sometimes becomes the key to making a perfect visual.

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Purestone. Entrance graphics for a London based agency.

The brief was to design the entrance of ‘Purestone’ – a London-based digital marketing agency’s office. Part of a rebranding project, it was done in collaboration with Kyle Henderson. The 25ft x 10ft long space, had to be attention grabbing for potential clients, giving the office a strong identity. The style of both the designers on the project had a lot of detailed and bold line work, making it possible for occasional overlapping. Incorporating the window with a view of urban London that sat exactly in between the space, a visual was created that complemented style of both the illustrators on the project. As the space had a lot of geometrical niches and corners, a seamless graphic was preferred to run across it. The style nicely adjusted to the scale of the space and was received enthusiastically by the onlookers.

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The Rainmaker. Illustration for a children’s book.

Expertise is to know how to give context to everything

Of course, knowledge and skill remain irreplaceable. But expertise also comes with awareness that anything and everything can be used to express yourself. Either by essence or by form, if materials are captured and framed with singular or multiple contexts, brilliant results can be achieved. Turning snags into starting points for constructing the visual and keeping a balance between pausing and exaggeration define it. Unlearning trumps learning and knowledge of that facilitates expertise.

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The making of the Umbrella, the Rainmaker.

For the project, ‘The Rainmaker’, different skills were combined into one installation, where everything remained substituted. The fabric turned into rain, plastic pipes poured out paper puddles and real people became mere props. The idea was a transition between a sense of reality to conceptual and stylized depictions. The archetypal British summer was the inspiration behind creating the visual around rain, which the designer literally attempted to ‘make’. This was justified with a screen-printed fabric on which it was raining cats, dogs, fish, alligators etc., giant paper-cut ‘water’ and an intricately hand crafted umbrella, creating an image of the urban world above it, using mundane materials such as black strings and wires and things found in everyday life. This carefully arranged scene was a full-blown installation, letting people take the centre stage.

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The making of the Umbrella, the Rainmaker.

Sum up to your talent everyday, every moment

Learning and exploring are the two essential ways by which you can keep moving forward. Achieve that through travelling, developing new habits, observing anything and everything, miscellaneous conversations, following the trends in nature and the haphazardness of our responses to those trends. A culmination of all of these will be exemplified in your work.

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Umbrella for the Rainmaker Illustration.

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round…

 

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Have you ever started doodling with nothing really on your mind? Just aimless strokes intersecting and your thoughts preoccupied elsewhere. Sometimes our best work comes from these mindless scribbles and we don’t even
realize it.

 

Victor Rigo, an illustrator based in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, created this lovely illustration series simply by using hard stones and putting pencil to paper and letting his mind wander. The result is this minimal illustration style, yet well-developed characters with expressive emotions and gestures.

 

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How do we involve a viewer into our art illustrations?

 

Ishan Trivedi, through his illustrative story of 3 live puppets, uses a surreal tone to captivate his viewers. The vibrant colours help make the characters and the environment pop. The soft textures and the blurred edges make it all seem so dreamy. The detail in the character emotions and layers too cannot be missed.

 

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Danny Jose, compiled some of his character illustrations to create a display of his work. The illustrations are amusing; with care taken to give each character its own idiosyncratic personality. The colour palette is wonderful and the noise added to the texture adds appeal to the overall look.

 

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Having Fun with Character Design

We’re all looking for something unreal, something that could hold our attention and give us something new. Locopopo DesignStudio, founded by Lokesh Karekar, helped create an illustrative series for GDPL design studio for Godrej Properties – Kolkata. The aim of the campaign was to focus on the greenscape the property had to offer, with the scope for multiple activities at different gardens. The beautiful colour combinations of blue-yellow, red-blue and more help grab the viewers’ attention. The illustrations are wonderfully layered into the backdrop and the foreground, giving the feeling of depth and never-ending gardens. The overflowing green from all ends certainly conjures an enticing visual.

 

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Illustrators and designers from all over the world have fun participating in this project called ’36 days of Type’. Supernova Design, a Los Angeles based studio, presents their take on the project. The approach and style is very quirky, fun and upbeat. The colour palette is vibrant and exuberant. What is interesting is the story behind each of these types. And the layered details makes the composition all the more captivating. It’s not easy to work with a lot of elements, especially trying to find a balance between them all.

 

Here Supernova Designs handles a mixed bag of elements with panache and shows the viewer a spectrum of possibilities.

 

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If there’s one thing that disheartens a designer, it’s resistance. On the other hand, every designer should know how to use his free-flowing strokes to justify the core message. Graphic designer and illustrator Gautam Gajbar explains how he strikes the balance to come up with loud and expressive works.

Bowler. Design becomes effortless when you can immediately connect to the subject
Music & Life. When a designer has only him and his world to feel, the creation has strong reflections of the designer’s own persona and way of life

When Your Work Speaks, You Don’t Have to Interrupt

No Boss, no partner to stop you or disagree with you – in one’s own setup, the mind has the brief and the heart is the executor. The perceptions start with a few raw thoughts in the head, which come on to paper in the form of quick scribbles. You start from a core subject and then let the elements develop gradually. Finally making the composition a mix of impulsive visuals and aesthetically placed design elements. This whole process of arranging and composing these elements unfolds the story of the subject on its own.

Rickshaw Chaos. Portrays the daily journey of various people, to and fro work.
Flora Fountain, Mumbai

Not Being by a Particular Design Language Makes You Versatile.

Whether it’s scribbled pencil lines, brush strokes or edgy ink splashes, there is no restriction to using any particular written or spoken language. The key is how you use them and create a new free-flowing visual/graphic language which is understood just by looking at it. However, it’s important to keep in mind that one’s not deviating from the subject. It’s about being versatile and at the same time leaving one’s own unique essence in it each time.

Shivaji Park, Dadar, Mumbai
Panda Artwork. Without habitat there is no, wildlife in fact there is no life!
Gatweway Of India Fort, Mumbai

A Rule Free Zone Encourages Impulsiveness

A designer is not a scientist. Following one’s own instinct while at it is how a designer develops and grows. The idea is not to calculate and care about definitive forms and elements but to do what feels right. Art can never be wrong or right. It’s a personal opinion. You either like something or you don’t. As long as you’re using elements that everyone can connect to, you can rest assured your design is multi-dimensional, offering unique points of view depending on how one looks at it.

Batsman. Displays how design becomes effortless when you can immediately connect to the subject and plot
V T Station, Mumbai
Che Guevara. A reminder that the value of a real icon is always more than a slap-on design on a ten-dollar T-shirt

No Professional Hierarchy Means, No Rules

Imagine working for yourself and only yourself. That’s the advantage of being a freelancer. However, such comfort also comes with a lot of responsibility and challenges. Versatility is key, where one needs to adapt quickly and with the needs and demands of the client and manage deadlines on your own. In the end, it’s not your good social and communication skills but simply good work that gets you the clients.

Smoking Angel. Anything is possible when you are in control. Inspired from the movie John Constantine
Kala Ghoda, Mumbai
Peace of Mind. A doodle-like portrait inspired by the unique personality of a friend

There is an Opportunity to be Individual in the Industry

Independent set ups are a haven for young designers. It lets them stay true to what they do. Moreover, it gives designers the golden opportunity to work with clients, subjects and brands that they relate to and connect with immediately. Commissioned projects automatically become a part of a designer with respect to the subject. Such a liberating environment encourages the unique style of a designer.

Rajabhai Tower Fort, Mumbai
Death to Birth. The cycle of life that every human being passes through, in this age of information
Elephant Artwork. Watercolour is used along with a visual idea to communicate a strong belief

Be Relentless, Until and Unless the Goal is Achieved

Freedom is good only if it is managed well. One must not forget that there is a brand objective that needs to be fulfilled. After all, there is a difference between a painting and client work. Right from start to finish, one must not go off track and forget the subject. The key is to stick to the basal idea at all times. Think whatever, do whatever, but within a particular niche. This is how the entire art work flows from the mind of the artist into the minds of the viewers as one coherent story.

"WILD AFRICA" Graphic for Jungle lore
Hutatma Chowk Fort, Mumbai

Published in Issue 09

This issue focuses on strengths and weakness of Indian creative business with cover from Archan Nair. Also, include some of the fearless creatives who had made their mark in the industry without compromising on the quality of the output and many more interesting reads.

 

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Questioning… is integral to great creativity. It’s only when we brood, wonder and question a scenario, we can showcase a different perspective in a unique way. Illustrator, Ranganath Krishnamani, questioned the indigenous identity of the very Indian local culture. Through this he developed a series of illustrations, each depicting the lives of individuals who still hold on to the threads of culture and tradition, in this age of rapid globalization. Here we see the likes of our chaiwala, dhobiwala, darzi and more, people with professions that are ignored by most, and now hold on tight to the hem of our Indian urban fabric.

 

The art style is truly compelling. The illustrator has made excellent use of a complementary palette that includes brown and deep green. The style by itself has an earthy grounded feel to it. The detail helps make each character come alive, especially in the animation.

 

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Chaiwala
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Hair Dresser
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Darzi (Tailor)
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Flower Seller
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Finding out what you are ‘born to do’, does not come easily for everyone. Archan Nair shares his story of finding his love for visual arts and how he established himself in this market.

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Dream in the Light

Only after a few years of starting his career in the fashion industry by joining his family’s apparel manufacturing company, Archan realised that he was not too fond of it. He then began experimenting with visual arts and in it he found a way to express himself, an escape to travel into a reality which was his own.

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Crossing Beyond

The beauty of art and creating something out of nothing took him by surprise, which got him exploring the subject deeper, leading him to the realisation that this is what he wanted to do all the time!

 

Archan quit his day job to start his journey as an independent artist and he definitely played his cards right! The decision of switching fields was worth the challenges that came in the way.

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Silent Letters

Analog to Digital

Growing up from times when cable TV just started to dial up Internet and the magical effect that the technology exhibited upon the use of tools on it, Archan was mesmerized to the extent that he drew inspiration for creativity using technology from his childhood seeings.

 

In Archan’s opinion, digital tools offer many more opportunities for creativity compared to traditional tools and uses a mix of 2D and 3D art to design the kind of artwork he is fond of. He feels that just the way how general art has diversified itself into the forms of traditional art, sculptures, installations, digital-art and mixed media, digital art will also expand much beyond its existing parameters.

Archan
Taqueria

Taking on Challenges

Engaging with clients is challenging as it brings one out of their comfort zone, gets you digging deeper in to subject in order to align your work with the client’s demand and communicate in the best way possible. Dealing with clients, in other words, is a blessing in disguise.

 

According to Archan, obstacles are important and necessary, not just in the process but in day to day life, as they help in establishing relationships with ones’ work and aligning it to the energy outside.

Archan
Tokara

Obstacles are an integral part of any professional’s life, the most common being finding consistent flow of projects. Also, these obstacles refine a person and take him into a deeper space, helping him explore his own best.

Archan
Settle

Love What You Do

The intention of creating illustrations was only a medium to express his inner journey and showcase his love for creation. It was nowhere close to getting himself famous or enjoying a popularity among global folks.

 

There aren’t any hard and fast rules laid down for marketing art and an artist. The process of creating an audience varies from person to person. All Archan believes is in that focus on creating and share what you create, the work will speak for itself and the rest will be taken care of.

Archan
Spun

Neither having the time or energy nor the strategy to brand himself, he follows his heart and does what he is best at, creating and is lucky enough to have everything fall in place for him. For Archan, this isn’t a race, it, in fact, is an open platform for people to bring out their expressions in their own unique style and serve as inspirations for others.

Archan
Way In

Craft-Focus

Advising the young and emerging artists, he suggests sticking to the basic things like creating, practicing, working hard, and not focusing on creating a brand. If that needs to happen it will happen on its own.

Archan
Scopic
Issue 44 - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 44

Behind every successful studio, artist or designer there are stories of challenges, struggles and their unique solutions to these. With this issue, we interviewed many well-known names from the creative industry and found their different learnings and experiences behind making their own self as a brand. Though they all have a different take on this topic, still they all unanimously emphasise on focusing on their skills and quality delivery of the final outcome. So, if you are looking to establish yourself as a brand in the creative market or already in the process of it, this issue is a must read. Full of insights and inspirations from the best of the talents, this issue is waiting to reach your desks.

 

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To be a success story, one needs to dedicate and devote two hundred percent from your heart and of course, be blissful at heart. Alicia Souza is one such example to know about and be inspired from.

Alicia Souza

Sometimes, things don’t move as they are planned. Whatever has to happen, happens and there is definitely something good in it. So is the case with Alicia Souza.

The Inception

The reason she started illustrating as a freelancer was because she needed to pay rent. She feels like she didn’t intentionally get into the place that she is in today but rather fell into it with circumstances at hand and the choices she made. Alicia moved to India to illustrate and her style evolved into the style she uses primarily today. Setting up the online store came after massive demands started flowing in for it.

Launching her own studio, Aliciasouzastudio has been her biggest responsibility. Even after time constraints restricting her from visiting the studio often, she makes sure to communicate with her wonderful team working there through instant messages and collates information via spreadsheets. She also has a partner taking care of the studio.

Fate and Fortune

Alicia is one lucky person to have destiny on her side! She didn’t set out to establish her brand with competition in mind, she started it because there was a need and she wanted to fulfill that.

 

The basic idea of starting out, let her live without any competition pressure and keeps her grounded because she is true to her work and does not look in any other direction than her own path. She believed in herself and her work, and considered it as a case of ‘I’ll take this as far as it will go’ and it’s still going!

A liking for funny characters and a special love for drawing cartoons seems to have just seeped into her work. From drawing many different characters in the past, Alicia now prefers telling stories and incidents via the ones that imitate her life in a way. Whether that character be her husband or her cute little dog go, she converses with those characters in her own style

Promotional Planning

Alicia feels that it is important to market oneself and these days with the choices of avenues available for marketing, it sometimes becomes confusing to decide the one which would do maximum justice to the promotional work.

 

She chose the platforms of Facebook and Instagram to promote her work as she felt the most comfortable using them and she knew she was going to stick to them. Also, she tried some other ways of promoting her brand and they too proved to be successful for her like Amazon, Happy Wagon, a retail and online store founded by aliciasouzastudio as well. She also has an online store on Etsy.com under the name, ‘Alicia Souza UK’ which is handled by a team based in the UK.

Alicia does not have a success mantra, but she firmly believes in the concept of trial and error. She does not follow trends, instead does what makes her smile and hopes that it will get a smile on other faces as well!

 

From her experience, Alicia suggests not to over-think, to work hard, be humble and enjoy the process.

Issue 44 - Creative Gaga

Published in Issue 44

Behind every successful studio, artist or designer there are stories of challenges, struggles and their unique solutions to these. With this issue, we interviewed many well-known names from the creative industry and found their different learnings and experiences behind making their own self as a brand. Though they all have a different take on this topic, still they all unanimously emphasise on focusing on their skills and quality delivery of the final outcome. So, if you are looking to establish yourself as a brand in the creative market or already in the process of it, this issue is a must read. Full of insights and inspirations from the best of the talents, this issue is waiting to reach your desks.

 

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