Anurag Ankit Kumar, who prefers to be called Anu, is an illustrator primarily taking up commissions. He dreams of someday owning his own cozy studio.

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Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Anime artist and illustrator, Anurag Ankit Kumar goes through his journey in art, where he talks about his biggest dreams, worst fears, and most importantly, how he grew up as an artist.

He has always been interested in cartoons. His passion began from the last bench of his school days, and later into a professional anime artist. He overcame multiple fears and stereotypes of whether artists can make a good living with just their work.

Following your passion despite knowing your roadblocks and hurdles is very important, he says. The community of artists across the internet, who are so well connected today also motivated him to pursue further in this way.

Cyberpunk is one of Anurag’s most recent favourites and he has been absolutely fascinated with the possibilities of approach to this genre. He hopes to work on more pieces and integrate minor, yet important details to make his pieces stand out.

His brother was the first person to introduce him to the world of anime, with Naruto. Anurag’s very first impression was that he found the character designs bizarre yet appealing. He quickly jumped to his sketchpad, inspired, made a few sketches and posted them online. The response gave him enough confidence to push himself further. Ever since then, Anime has been inseparable from his life.

His biggest advice to new artists is to not spend too much time on correcting or creating a new style that is entirely their own. He believes that the style evolves with time, work, and with upcoming trends. For instance, his own style is inspired by his love for Anime, his taste for cool colour combinations, various perspectives, compositions and minimalism. But he is quite sure that when his taste changes with time, so will his style.

Anurag derives inspiration from multiple contemporaries and legends in the field like Vinnie, Yun Ling and Xi Zhang. He believes that his first commissioned project gave him immense confidence and drive to move ahead.


Clients on the other hand commission for sketches of the kind of their favourite character or ask him to create characters based on the stories that they have in mind. He aspires to extend his expertise in art by integrating 3D designs and working with entertainment agencies, he says as he concludes.

If you enjoy anime and Manga related designs, you can check out more of his work here.

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Vibhav Singh is a Bangalore-based artist and illustrator who has a penchant for storytelling. After gaining popularity in the indie music scene for innovative album arts and event posters now he is keen to take his creative venture, Studio Sideline, forward.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

After working with Achint Thakkar, he collaborated with Anuv on two more artworks, plus he also recently worked with Tejas for his new album “Outlast”, creating four pieces in total. Now, he is keen to take his creative venture, Studio Sideline, forward.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

It all started with the love of reading. When he was growing up, his favourite books were sci-fi and fantasy stories, and he always loved the cover illustrations that came with them. He became increasingly fascinated by the storytelling by these images over the years, and it soon turned into a full-fledged career path.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

He also found music extremely compelling, and in college, he began to make artworks inspired by music. These caught the eye of some people in the indie arts community, and it eventually led him to make posters for Sofar Sounds.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

There has been no looking back ever since. He has been working on a lot of projects with Converse, Kulture Shop, and Netflix—just to name a few. He has even designed cover artworks for some of Audible’s original stories. His collaboration with Converse as part of their Peace campaign, where he was one of the 9 artists selected from around the world.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

As he continued to achieve his artistic dreams, Studio Sideline was born. Four storytellers combine their creativity and skills to bring the kind of stories they always wanted to tell but never had the manpower to pull off. ‘Our vision is to tell stories that have heart, and to execute them at the highest quality,’ says Vibhav.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

What inspired the illustrators to start this company was the large number of people who are returning to illustration as a means of self-expression and storytelling. A range of exciting possibilities has been added to illustration by the digital medium, constantly blurring of lines between illustration, animation, fine art, installation art etc. In fact, movie posters, album covers, and books have been using more illustrated art. 2D animated films are popular once again, as they represent an appreciation for hand-drawn artwork.

Illustration and Storytelling by Vibhav Singh

The secret recipe beyond all this is establishing a successful client-designer relationship. Vibhav’s solution — contracts. Having an idea of the kind of work you do and the way you do it helps to set boundaries for your clients so that everyone knows what to expect.

Setting terms, boundaries, and commercials, preferably in the form of a contract, he recommends that goes a long way.


Vibhav is still building up his portfolio with unique explorations of storytelling. When asked about what he wants to work on next, he answered, ‘I would love to work on anything that’s narrative-based, primarily book cover illustrations and zines.’

You can uncover the artistic vision of Vibhav Singh creations on his website and follow him along on his visual art pieces on Instagram.


And for more exciting behind-the-scenes coverage of other artists & illustrators from around the world be sure to follow Creative Gaga on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Highlighting illustration aspects such as lighting and colours, Naveen Selvanathan also dwells on his own personal story as an artist.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

Naveen has made quite a journey as an illustrator since he started out as a professional artist at Sony India. From his early days studying engineering to taking up an animation job post a related course in Chennai to further pursuing a Master’s in Fine Arts in the USA, he has made his way through.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

Today he’s involved in prestigious projects with Dreamworks in LA, California, currently focused on Puss in Boots 2 for the past couple of years.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. Please take us through your early days in art – How did it all begin? How did events progress thereafter and how did you experience them?

Naveen. I was always interested in art as a child but I did not know how to make a living as an artist. So, like all of my friends, I studied engineering. However, by the time I finished my engineering course, I realized that I did not want to work as an engineer and that art was my true passion. So I joined a short animation course in Chennai and managed to get a job as an animator. I worked there for a couple of years before moving to the US to pursue my Master of Fine Arts degree.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. How did you get into DreamWorks Animation and what role did you play there? Please also take us through one or two of your significant projects there.

Naveen. My director for Spiderman into the Spiderverse, Bob Persichetti, invited me to work on his next project, Puss in Boots 2, that he was directing at Dreamworks. That’s how I joined the studio. I have been working there for the past year and a half on the same project.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. How can one get the balance between lighting and colours right, so that they complement each other well?

Naveen. You have to think about lighting and colours in tandem since lighting decides how an object appears in the painting. A red object may appear orange-based or purple-based, depending on whether it is lit by the evening sun or the cool skylight in the shadows. You have to design your lighting based on what you want to convey through your work. A fashion illustration will be lit very differently from a painting of an action sequence, for example. We can learn a lot about light design by studying movies and photography.

Illustration by Naveen Selvanathan

CG. Can you point out some works or artists that represent this balance well?

Naveen. Among traditional artists, I look up to John Singer Sargent, Anders Zorn, Richard Schmid, Jeremy Lipking, Kim English, and Matt Bodges for inspiration.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. Did personally moving to LA show any effect on your work process, results or so? How did it impact you as an illustrator?

Naveen. LA is where the Hollywood animation industry is mostly based. So many of the prominent artists have made it their home. Apart from that, many animation and art conventions take place in LA. Being surrounded by so much talent and having exposure to the industry has definitely improved my work and kept me inspired.

Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)

CG. Please tell us about your time with Disney Interactive Studios – What projects did you work on and what was unique about the work process there?

Naveen. Disney Interactive was a social gaming studio where I worked as an artist doing simple designs for their games. It paid my bills while I attended art workshops in the evenings to improve my portfolio and achieve my true goal of working in feature animation.

Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)
Royal Detective (Disney TV) (Design & Paint)

CG. Is it pressuring to work for big names and projects? How do you handle it?

Naveen. There is more pressure associated with big-name projects as you are surrounded by top talent who produce amazing work. You feel like you have to always be at the top of your game. I handle it by taking it one day at a time and trying to play to my strengths.

Lighting & Colours - Illustration by Naveen Selvananthan

CG. How would you compare two greats such as Dreamworks and Sony, having worked for them both?

Naveen. Sony was the first feature animation studio to give me a chance by hiring me and providing a working visa. So I would forever be grateful to Sony. It was a great learning experience to work on productions there and watch top artists in the industry work. I have to say that the work at Dreamworks is a lot more relaxed because I joined as an experienced artist, not feeling the pressure to prove myself.

CG. Please tell us about your role for Smurfs and elaborate on it from brief to end result.

Naveen. Smurfs was my first feature film. I learned a lot of skills on that project, ranging from painting props and characters to painting locations, as well as lighting and colour keys.


CG. How much of a role do lighting and colours play in your work and what techniques do you use to apply them effectively?

Naveen. Lighting and colours play a very important role in my illustrations. I keep my light and shadows in layers so that I can play with the values and keep the overall illustration crisp and graphic.

Illustration by Naveen Selvanathan

CG. What have been your greatest lessons through working with such diverse organisations?

Naveen. I’ve learned that if your foundation is strong, you can survive in any studio and project. Along with that, always being willing to learn new ways and techniques from others, is something that always helps.

CG. Please shed some light on the significance of formal education in your illustration journey and what’s your advice to current art students?

Naveen. I would say, getting trained in the basics of art – such as anatomy, perspective, graphic design, lighting, and colour – is extremely important to enter, survive and thrive in the animation and illustration industry. What you learn is more important than where you learn it.

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Stories lay at the core and crux of most art forms. Depicting the same, NID student Yamini Sujan, elaborates on her own storytelling process through illustration.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!
Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

Yamini Sujan is an aspiring Animator and illustrator currently studying at the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. A keen illustrator focused on storytelling, she finds expression through 2D animation, ‘Ribbon’ and ‘Whilom’ being her pilot classroom projects.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!
Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. You seem like a dreamer from your work. Is it so? What influences your works most and how?

Yamini. Real-life experiences are the key to most of my works. Small stories that I want to tell. They might be the nostalgic ones or the current issues happening around. I tend to add a few fictional elements to all those experiences. Maybe that’s why I look like a dreamer.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. Tell us about NID Ahmedabad. How are the experiences as an art student and personally too?

Yamini. NID is beyond words. As I always say, NID is like a home away from home. It has a major role in improving me as an individual. To grow, learn, unlearn, come out of my comfort zone, explore and so much more. Design with more ethics and empathy is what they stand for. Storytelling and the aesthetic part of art is what I chose NID for. I’ve had opportunities to meet very interesting personalities in different fields in the form of guides, faculties and college mates, all of whom I adore.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. Please tell us about your use of dark shades, vibrant colours and watercolour textures across your illustrations. Please elaborate on the idea.

Yamini. As a kid, I took my initial steps into art through traditional mediums involving water, oil and acrylic colours. That is where the style comes from. Most of my artworks have textures and I’m trying to recreate the feel of these mediums digitally. Traditional art has a huge place in my heart.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. Which clients and line(s) of work are you keenly looking forward to and what makes you choose them?

Yamini. Currently, I’m more into creating Illustrations and exploring the aesthetic and emotional sides to them. I also wish to create illustrations for books, concept arts, background art and storyboarding. Likewise, I really want to be part of good projects and create my own little stories alongside.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. Do you intend to study further or not really? What’s your perspective behind the choice?

Yamini. I’m always wanting and willing to learn something new. I currently plan to learn something that enhances my storytelling skills. Literature, sociology and psychology are subjects I’ve always been interested in. They would be a really great way to improve my view of storytelling as, in a way, they’re all connected.

Narrating Stories Through Illustrations!

CG. Which artists would you like to collaborate with, if you were given a wish? What about them draws you?

Yamini. There are so many great artists and studios that I have always wanted to collaborate with. Upamanyu Bhattacharyya is a great person with whom I have always wanted to collaborate with, as I have earlier. He has been my faculty and guide, too. Currently, I’m working on a Children’s book which is sponsored by him and Swati Shelhar. I’ve worked on some background art of his and Kalp’s film, ‘Wade’, too. We always learn something new from Upamanyu and the way he takes care of the artwork – that’s something I always admire. Same with Debjyothi Saha. He is an amazing senior and creates very unique content. There are many more college mates, seniors and emerging filmmakers whom I’d like to work with. Also studios like Ghost animation, Vaibhav Studios, Eeksaurous, Eunoians, Kokkaachi… The list is endless. They all create the best animations in India.

CG. How has your experience been in learning your craft at a premier institute?

Yamini. Studying at NID is an exploration. It gives us the opportunity to explore areas we’ve never tried before. Film-making was never a thing in my farthest dreams. Yet, at the end of the day, I created a small animated film. Learning practically is the main aspect of NID. Several group projects and discussions (inside and outside the class) helped me to grow as a designer and human. Even the small talks we have during chai-time matter. These talks and ideas may turn into films or books one day.

CG. Please take us through your most satisfying project, from start to end.

Yamini. ‘Ribbon’ is the most satisfying project I’ve ever done and is very close to my heart. The project is inspired by some real-life experiences.

Fear always exists in our society – most women can relate to this situation. Eve teasing itself is an outrageous modesty. Somehow, though, it’s so common in our society. That induces insecurities. As a female and most of my friends have experienced some or the other kind of inappropriate behaviour; that is where this story came from. It has real feelings, though it has been set in a fictional background. Most of the elements in it are real.

I was really confused about this project, initially; I didn’t know how people would take it. However, at the end of the project, there were some, including those from my close circle, who talked to me about similar experiences that were pestering them. I was really moved by their responses. They could relate to that fear and come talk to me about it. Catharsis, the flow of emotions, happened. I listened, consoled, gained strength and we connected. It was then that I realized the magic of storytelling and connecting.

CG. Please tell us about your animation films, Whilom and Ribbon.

Yamini. Both Ribbon and Whilom are my classroom projects. Whilom is the first-ever animated film we made. It was a group project of the 4th semester, guided by Upamanyu Bhattacharyya, where we learnt the baby steps of film-making. The pre-production stage, production stage and everything involved were new. All six members with different ideas came together with the purpose of creating a unified film. It was an interesting process and learning, on the whole. We split the roles to reduce the amount of work per person.

‘Ribbon’, meanwhile, was an individual project. Guided by Suman Chakraborthy, all the pre-production and production (including sound design) was solely my responsibility. Most of these were new to me but I tried. And Ribbon was born.

This project is really close to my heart! I was so overwhelmed when it got selected for the Bangalore International Short Film Festival and some other festivals too. Most importantly, it is the responses of the viewers that drives me forward. I hope I can create more such films, illustrations and stories.

Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Roshan Gawand, a freelance illustrator and design owner at Gangsta Paradise Tattoo, from getting inspired from his daily Pinterest feed to moving his flashbacks to his canvas, shares his process of creating art and how he succeeded in this industry.

Collecting guava from guava garden

CG. Could you tell us about yourself, how you got into art and illustration, and your tattoo studio Gangsta Paradise?

Roshan. I am an Illustrator based in Navi Mumbai. I have done my Graduation Studies from L. S. Raheja School of Art as a commercial artist. I spent most of my childhood in a village and lived in an ordinary family. I feel the painting does not only colour on canvas, it is an expression of the artist. I keep expressing my thoughts through different artworks. I love to explore different colour schemes. As an artist, I never stop making myself better from all angles. My journey as a tattoo artist started during my college days. I used to earn money for myself by working as a freelance tattoo artist. This is how I earned my very first salary. Step by step I developed my skills and here I am today owning the Gangsta Paradise Tattoo and Art Studio located in Panvel.

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
Indian village girl and her Matka

CG. Could you describe your primary illustration style? Which mediums do you like to work with?

Roshan. I really like to work on Procreate. It gives me the ability to quickly bring my thoughts to life. I also like to create art with watercolours, it takes me back to where I started my art journey.

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
Partner, this artwork showcases the commitment and trust between a camel and his keeper.

CG. Some of your work depicts themes of nature and rural culture. What motivates you to illustrate village life?

Roshan. I was born and brought up in the village only. Even now I live like an hour away from my hometown, so I have a warm spot in my heart for my native place. That’s where all of my motivation
comes from.

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
Nothing is better than a cow grazing in a large open field.

CG. The series has a very unique use of colour – cooler colour temperature, vibrant, and abstract in some uses. Could you give us some insight into your approach?

Roshan. To me, colours are like a new way of living life, so I try to incorporate that happiness, joy and new way of life in my paintings. Human eyes are easily drawn to bright and vibrant colours, so I try that aspect in my artworks. People have started accepting these colour patterns nowadays.

Lotus, a Lotus flower, rooted in mud, surrounded by water and somehow finds a way to bloom

CG. Tell us about your process when creating illustrations. How do you approach concept development?

Roshan. Whenever I see something interesting, I always try to click a picture and keep it on my phone. Most of my inspirations come from the actual scenes and experiences around me. For some ideas, I try to search for some inspirations on Pinterest as well. It gives me the ability to play around with the ideas that I carry in my mind.

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
A girl who he saw everyday on his way to school, with two sheep in her hands.

CG. Where do you draw inspiration from when creating work with no source material?

Roshan. So whenever I do not have source material I do stick to my inner ideas and memories that I carry from time to native experiences. I start with a simple scribble over the blank page and then just continue drawing instinctively as my thought process allows me to move my hand.

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
Mirror - Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you”

CG. How do you approach work for your tattoo studio? Do you create only custom work?

Roshan. I would say most of my tattoos are custom work as per the client’s requirements. And the rest of the tattoos are from references that my clients bring along with them.

The soul of India lives in its villages. Reminiscing old times, when farmers and their families spent time milking the cows, bonding with them

CG. What is your opinion about the appeal of tattoos in general?

Roshan. People are more drawn to tattoos nowadays. They like to get tattoos as a mark of special memories from their life. This COVID situation has impacted the footfalls in the studio but I am sure that once everything goes back to normal, more people will start coming to the tattoo studios.

CG. Are there any other areas where you would like to apply your creative skills?

Roshan. I am into wall arts, watercolour paintings and dot work tattoos and I have done a couple of wall painting projects.

Indian Summer Rituals. The lady sitting in this artwork is shown cutting chillies

CG. We’ve discovered a way to animate tattoos on people and a person wants you to tattoo them in your signature art style. What do you develop?

Roshan. I would really love to tattoo my signature style on a person. I can already think of many ways I can make it look like a masterpiece. Just tell me when and where!

Illustration by Roshan Gawand
Wheel of life, taking inspiration from childhood experiences, when an outlander would ask for a lift from native villager
Issue 52

Published in Issue 52

The pandemic has brought many different challenges for everyone. But educating our young ones is among the top priority. The issue focused on how design education is still possible while most of us are locked in our homes. We also interacted with illustrators and photographers such as Jasjyot Singh Hans and Anirudh Agarwal, who seem to stand firm with their uniqueness in this time of chaos. Overall this issue serves food for thought with visually stunning creativity on a single platter.


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Creative Gaga - Issue 55


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Portrait artist Mohan Sonawane shares his wisdom on the art of portraiture, revealing the secrets to capturing the essence of the individual.

Portraiture by Mohan Sonawane
A digital rendition of the Indian Bollywood actress Shraddha Kapoor

CG. Could you kindly recall your artist journey, the pleasures and pains of the path?

Mohan. I never imagined I would reach such heights in art as I have today. Art was my favourite subject as a child, and due to my family’s financial condition, I had to work part-time to purchase my art materials. As I progressed, my art teacher recommended ATD. During that program, I have suggested the JJ School of Art, where I pursued a program for Applied Arts. My time in Mumbai was testing and arduous; I was alone in the vast city and had to fend for myself. Apart from this, commuting took up most of my day, leaving very little time to study. Nevertheless, this period taught me several important life lessons that I cherish even today.

An illustration capturing the likeness of a Sadhu painted digitally

The most unforgettable moment, however, is the time I won a bronze medal during the final year of my under graduation. This path has been strenuous, and I have been rejected several times, but I wouldn’t have reached where I am today if I hadn’t faced those failures.

CG. What/who is your muse? What inspires you to take up the pen/pencil/stylus every day and sketch?

Mohan. Since I did not have strong financial support from my family, I had to work very hard to be self-sufficient. My desire to be independent is the fuel for my work.

Portraiture by Mohan Sonawane
An illustration capturing the likeness of an Old Man painted digitally

CG. Your work primarily consists of portraits. What inspired you to take up portrait painting?

Mohan. Artist Vasudev Kamat’s paintings inspired me to take up portraiture. I create all kinds of art, but portraiture has been my favourite ever since I was in JD Art painting.

Portraiture by Mohan Sonawane
A digital painting of Freida Pinto

CG. Could you kindly share the process behind your photo selection for your portraits? Are there any specific criteria that one must consider when selecting photographs for portrait painting?

Mohan. Photo selection is a critical aspect of portraiture. One must carefully hand-pick a photograph that has sufficient depth and ample lighting. The right picture can result in a vibrant portrait and shine a light on all of your hard work.

An illustration capturing the likeness of a Rajasthani old man painted digitally

CG. How do you design the background and assemble the colour palette for a piece? What are the critical aspects that one must look into while picking colours for a portrait?

Mohan. Background plays a vital role in a portrait because the right background can make your artwork stand out. The colour selection for the background depends majorly on the subject and their skin tone. I shift from light and dark colours depending on the mood and subject of the piece.

A digital rendition of the actor Aiden Shaw

CG. How do you determine the best angle and light for a portrait (assuming that there is no photograph to refer to), especially since all of us possess a “good” and “bad” side (in terms of photography angle)?

Mohan. Knowing your anatomy can save you here since an artist well versed in anatomy can create any pose with ease. Depth in the artwork can be brought about through shading. However, a reference photograph can help ease the process.

Portraiture by Mohan Sonawane
A digital rendition of the actor Rowan atkinson in his famous avatar as Mr.Bean

CG. Apart from realistic portraits, you have also mastered the art of caricatures. What are the similarities and differences in the artistic process for both? Does your process vary in terms of sketching and painting?

Mohan. Be it a realistic portrait or caricature, it is vital to know your anatomy. However, in lifelike portraits, we need to maintain the character, and in caricatures, we need to exaggerate the subject’s features. Therefore, we follow the rules of anatomy rather strictly for portraits. Otherwise, the painting and sketching process essentially remains the same.

CG. Your artworks have a significant variation in style and flair. How do you set a particular style for an artwork? Which is your most preferred style?

Mohan. I decide the style for an artwork based on the character and concept of the work. My go-to is the “one eye” style, which I have followed in several of my works.

CG. How do you choose the subjects of your painting? Could you elaborate on the portrait painting process? What are your preferred software and medium?

Mohan. Before beginning my painting process, I study the subject carefully and harvest ideas during the reference study phase. Quick gesture drawings provide a good understanding of the subject. Then, with the base secure, I proceed to draft the final sketch. Upon completing the final illustration, I work on the base colour for the skin tone and proceed to add darker shades and complete the work with finer details. The result is finalised only after the colour correction process, where I tweak the colours and check colour balance. As for my prefered software and medium, they are Adobe Photoshop and Watercolours, respectively.

CG. Who is your greatest inspiration and/or role model/mentor from the field of art?

Mohan. Artist Vasudeo Kamath is my role model, and his paintings are my source of inspiration. I have learnt a lot about portraiture by studying his works.