CG. What is your design philosophy, and what are your everyday inspirations?
Manasi: People and animals, their behaviour, quirks and stories amuse me a lot. I love observing how people react to things, their relationships and interactions with themselves and their surroundings, and how everything in the world weaves together to create social fabric as it exists.
I enjoy interpreting small stories around me and documenting them through my drawings. By creating art, I endeavour to understand my place in the world and discover ways to contribute to it.
CG. How do you manage to find humour in everyday life?
Manasi: I’m a rather serious person, the one mostly laughing at jokes than cracking them. But now that I think of it, I loved reading joke books as a kid. I’d always read the comics in the papers and never bother with the rest. I guess, a light-hearted approach to life was always something I gravitated towards since my childhood, and that somehow shows up in my work without me realising it.
For me, life is so full of difficult things that, when something makes me giggle, I secretly want to trap that moment and keep it safe for later.
CG. Are your designs particularly dedicated towards children as an audience?
Manasi: I love children’s books and collect lots of them, too. I keep telling myself that I’m building a library for kids I might have in the future, but, to be honest, they’re really just for me. What’s special about children’s books is how they need to be the most simplified version of something – which I believe is so difficult to arrive at, but so beautiful once it’s done.
One of my favourites is a book called, The Heart and the Bottle by Oliver Jeffers, which communicates the pain and grief associated with death in the most touching way. I guess it was my love for this medium that showed in my work. Clients who connected with that vibe approached me for more of that. It’s never really been a conscious effort to work in or make things relevant in a particular segment. It all just fell into place, organically.
CG. What more do you plan to do with your illustrations? What would be your advice to those who doubt their talent?
Manasi: I’d love for my illustrations to travel to newer canvasses, over time. Most of my work in the past few years has been created in isolation from the world, on my work table, and I’ve been itching to get out of the studio more. At this point, I’d be happy to take on projects that allow me to interact with things, people and experiences while getting work done.
I’m also consciously reducing digital work and shifting to hand done. It’s a scary decision to make in a time when digital is growing so fast, but I’ve decided to stick to what makes me happy, and trust it to take me somewhere – which is what I’d tell people in doubt too! Also, there’s no time for doubt really.
Just do! Like Dory says in Finding Nemo, “Just Keep Swimming!”