There’s been a rising trend of illustrators on social media who mix art with satire to bring home their point of view, writes Poorva Tamhane
Creativity doesn’t know boundaries, and social media reinforces this fact with conviction. It provides a platform for anyone from professionals to budding artists who can flourish online simply based on one’s work and effort. Young Indian illustrators are a case in point. They are quirky, humorous, tech savvy, engaging and even implore you to think. These artists provide a visual art that’s neither news nor can it be categorised as just another fun doodle; and it often voices the daily angst of work, family or simply provides an escape from it all. Their art is at once thoughtful, engaging and brightens up a dull day!
Social media for the solopreneur
Illustrators such as Alicia Souza (Bengaluru-based) of Aliciasouza.com are making waves and drawing in an increasing number of steady followers. She is active on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat but says she loves Instagram the most (60K+ on Instagram alone) as it is more interactive than the others. Most other prominent illustrators agree with the fact that Instagram helps reach out to a wider audience and likeminded people. Neha Sharma of @neha.doodles (Delhi-based) says, “A lot of people start but cannot keep up, do not post regularly or just give up feeling that they aren’t able to reach an audience. Social media takes a little time but if you have the talent and passion you will reach greater heights for sure.” She has nearly 50k followers on Instagram alone.
Beginnings and inspiration
Pranita Kocharekar (Mumbai-based) of @Pranitart and founder of untilnexttime.net says, “My parents are artists themselves, and they noticed me spending all my free time drawing since I was a kid. I guess sometime around then my family knew I would draw for a living! So I did a four-year degree course at Rachana Sansad called Applied Art – I learnt graphic design, visualising and majored in Typography. I’m pretty much a self-taught illustrator.” For some illustrators it is akin to being an outlet for ideas.
Malathi Jogi of @badaboomie says, “While I was growing up, I spent the majority of my time either reading stories or drawing. Comics blend two of my loves – storytelling and art, which is why I have a huge soft spot for them. I was drawn to illustration because it lets me say what I can’t or won’t say otherwise, with a near-meditative process, too.” She says she doesn’t have any professional training but kept at it with varying intensity over the years. Mitali Sheth of @thestorybookofmylife took to illustrating when friends and family encouraged her to do so after noticing her knack for it with her animated greeting cards. She says, “I wanted to capture interesting moments – I suck at photography, so I started drawing these moments instead.”
Archies, Murakami, and more
Sushant Rane, all of 19 (Mumbai-based) who makes mind boggling 3D optical illusion’s says, “It’s simply an observation of daily life that fuels my passion for sketching. After that it’s all about practice and trying different things and mediums to make the art better.” Sharma too believes it’s the surroundings that influence the most and explains, “Everything around me right from my family, Punjabi songs, Dilli ki aunties to the comics I read influences my work but I try my best to not get influenced by any artist in particular so that I can maintain the originality in my work.”
“Children’s books can be an inspiration too!” explains Kocharekar. “I buy books off the internet/book stores/exhibitions whenever I can. Also, when I was younger, I would visit the local library to buy Archie’s Comics. I loved the comics, and I took longer than usual to read them because the illustrators always were on point with detailing!” She is also heavily inspired by Haruki Murakami and her daily emotions and moods which she translates on paper. Renowned Indian cartoons have also played a role in influencing these artist’s. Malathi Jogi says, “I think it started with Tinkle? Good old Tinkle and Amar Chitra Katha showed me that stories could be pretty, fun, and useful!” She adds, “Having said that I do get the sense that the Indian scene is evolving to include honest, bold representations of our lives as the people of India, and it’s really encouraging to see the scene get more personal, political and inclusive.”
Some artists have been hugely successful. Souza’s wacky cartoons have translated into the well-known brand Chumbak which she later left to pursue a career as a freelance artist. Today she has an endearing product range of her own which has everything right from cute stamps, greeting cards, badges, phone covers to home décor. She now wants to shift her focus to growing her studio. Sharma, on the other hand, occasionally comes up with limited edition products and makes yearly calendars as well. Her dream is to come up with a graphic novel series.
Some illustrators that are now expanding have various ideas for showcasing their work. Jogi for instance has a project on Instagram called #YearOfMaking which is about making art every single day for a year. She has also started collaborating with other Indian artists such as Pia Alize Hazarika. Her plans include putting up her prints online to reach a bigger audience.
Sheth reaches out to her audience with personalised cards, save-the-date invites and posters. She wants to come up with a coffee table book in the near future. Rane is working on educating people about the medium of illustrations by participating in a TED talk and also plans to have a solo exhibition of his work. Kocharekar who previously had a typographic project on Behance put’s up her art illustrations from time to time on simple daily use objects like post-its and sticker sets which she makes available to her audience.