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Meet Sameera Maruvada – The creator of ‘Salt and Sambar’

Meet Sameera Maruvada – The creator of ‘Salt and Sambar’

Meet Sameera Maruvada, the creator of ‘Salt & Sambar’

Sameera Maruvada is a freelance illustrator based in Visakhapatnam who turned pastime doodling into her career. She is also the creator of a web-comic series called “Salt and Sambar”  through which she aims to spread awareness on different social issues in a humorous way with a bit of cultural touch.

She aims to inspire young artists to pursue their passion for art through her Youtube channel – Saminspire , which has over 3.8 million views.

Read on more to find out about Sameera’s artistic journey.

Were you inclined towards art, right from your childhood or did you develop the passion over the years?

Drawing is something that came naturally to me. Ever since I was a kid I have been engrossed in drawing and coloring. I used to love participating in art competitions, I also used to win a lot of them. This did not change even after I grew up.

How did you start cartooning? What made you pursue it?

Initially, I never had cartooning on my mind. I used to mostly experiment with oil pastels, and I’ve been creating YouTube videos for the past five years. 

After completing my interior designing course, I was extremely clueless about what to do next and that’s when I started drawing comics. I have always drawn cute characters for greeting cards, and I love storytelling. So, comics were the perfect mix of both.

Many of your comics are in Telugu. How have the audience reactions been?

When I started creating comics in Telugu, the primary reason was not to promote my culture or language, but it was mostly because I could express certain feelings only in my mother tongue. Adding on to it, certain phrases sound good only in a particular language.

When  I started making comics in Telugu, I never expected many people to understand it. However, many Telugu-speaking-people from different parts of the world could relate to it and I’m glad I could make them feel home. 

How did you come up with the name “ Salt and Sambar”?

I always wanted to give a south Indian touch to the name of the comic series. I initially thought of calling it “Idli & Sambar”, but that name was already taken. That’s when “Salt & Sambar” struck me.

There’s a phrase from a famous Telugu movie called “Aha Naa-Pellanta” which inspired me to choose this name.

Are you a full-time artist? If yes, how has the journey been?

Yes, I am a full-time artist. I take up freelance projects, conduct workshops and also have a youtube channel where I teach simple drawings with oil pastels, DIY art and crafts and the basics of coloring.

Although being a freelancer is definitely not easy, if you work hard enough it’s as good as any other profession.

Where do you derive inspiration for your comics from?

Most of my comics are based on real-life experiences. There are certain messages that I want to spread through my comics. For instance, I want to show how students are pressurised into taking IIT-JEE or similar entrance tests, and how girls are expected to marry after a certain age.

I try to address these social issues in a humorous way, with a cultural touch.

Who are some of the artists whom you look up to?

These are some of my personal favorites – Rohan Chakravarty, Alicia Souza, Bill Watterson, Foxtrot, Sarah Andersen and Marloesdevee.

What are the problems that you face as a freelancer, and how do you think viewers can help?

I strongly feel that in India, freelancers are undermined. Nobody views art as a lucrative career choice. This mindset must change.

When it comes to supporting artists, people can support artists on this website called ‘Patreon’. Again, this is a very unfamiliar concept in India. People are charged a nominal amount every month to support their favourite artists. In return, you will be given exclusive rewards, like newsletters, early updates, merchandise and more. This helps the artists to not depend entirely on freelance projects for their income and helps them focus more on creating original art.

What advice would you give to the budding artists?

No one should pursue what they don’t like just because they are being pressured by their friends, family or society. 

I wish that by looking at artists like us, they should realize that art as a profession isn’t less than any other, and if you are persistent you will do great. 

Even if you have to take up a day job to make your ends meet, you should always make time for doing what you love, and never let go of the passion.

Thoughts about Stoned Santa?

Helping artists get recognized and helping them reach many people is a wonderful idea. I really hope that Stoned Santa does well in the future.

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Meet the creator of Green Humour, Rohan Charkravarty

Meet the creator of Green Humour, Rohan Charkravarty

A comical twist to the wild –An interview with the creator of Green Humour

Rohan Chakravarty, the creator of Green Humoura comic series on wildlife conservation and awareness is a brilliant cartoonist and an illustrator. His comic strips are not only published in The Hindu, Mid-day, Round Glass and many other wildlife journals, but they are also extremely popular on Instagram.

From the polar bears of the Arctic, koalas of Australia to tigers of India, he spreads awareness on a wide range of wildlife species through humorous cartoons.

A dentist by education, Rohan transformed himself into an artist. Either way, his work puts a smile on our faces through hilarious, yet thought-provoking comics.

He says that no awards or accolades are more valuable than the actual impact that his comics have on his viewers. 

Read more to find out about his journey.

When did you start making comics? How did you decide to pursue it?

Ever since I was a kid, I have been in the habit of drawing and cartooning. It is only after I made the mistake of choosing dentistry that I realized that it wasn’t my calling. Soon after, I worked at various media houses and animation studios for a few years. The experience of creating custom artwork for my clients helped me not only sustain myself as a full-time cartoonist, but also gave me deep insight into the world of design.

It’s been over 10 years since I started making comics, and 7 years since my work started getting published in the Print media, and I do not regret any of it.

Why did you choose wildlife as the central theme for your comics series – “Green Humour”?

Wildlife has been something that has fascinated me throughout my life. I was on a trip to one of the National Parks when I saw a wild tigress and I remember I was captivated by this beautiful majestic sight, that’s when I found my calling. I thought why not combine the two elements – Art and Wildlife, and “Green Humour” was born.

For someone like you whose comics are based on wildlife? How important is traveling?

Although I do not travel much as I’m conscious of the carbon footprint that is associated with it, certain projects demand my visit to the place, especially when I have to create illustrated maps of sanctuaries and parks.

However, I would definitely recommend traveling to artists. Personal experiences and first-hand information are incomparable with any other secondary source of information. 

Have you seen every bird or animal which are illustrated in your comic series?

I have drawn a lot of animals that I haven’t seen or probably will never see. I derive inspiration from books or watching documentaries mostly.

Lately, you’ve also done a couple of comics on political satire? How have the responses been?

Certain issues had to be addressed. Many supported and liked the comics, while others started trolling. I would call it “Destructive Criticism”. After a point, you learn how not to pay heed to such trolls, you could say that it helps one in anger management.

Would you like to explore other verticals in comics apart from wildlife?

I have created comics on various themes in the past. But, I am not sure if I can do a good job at those. For now, I will continue making comics on wildlife.

What can one expect from the Art workshops you organize?  

They’re basic cartooning workshops in which  I guide participants through the process of creating comics, from drawing characters, capturing expressions to compiling all the elements to make complete sense which could help you create a comic strip.

Could you name some artists you look up to?

Well, this could take some time. But, here are some on top of my mind – Gary Larson, Bill Watterson, Patrick McDonnell. When it comes to Indian ArtistsR K  Laxman and Maya Kamath are some of my favorites. 

If you were to go back in time and change a decision what would it be?

Although I’ve no regrets as such, I think I should have explored the internet better. I see a lot of young artists creating content regularly and posting them. For someone like me who is excessively dependent on Print Media, the Internet is challenging. Sometimes, I feel like I have a generation gap with the new artists.

How do you think artists and freelancers have been affected by the pandemic? How do you think people can support them?

Artists and small businesses have definitely been affected big time. Many artists like me are dependent on Print Media, but due to the pandemic the print industry has taken a major hit and is running short of Ad money, hence there might be layoffs; NGOs that collaborate with artists are lacking funds at the moment; Book launches and releases have been postponed for months together.

I think this is the time when you can grow your business online. Learning how to monetize digital consumption of art is a very important skill to learn. Companies like Stoned Santa should play an important role in helping the artists to enable the same.

Answering the latter question, people can support fellow artists through Online patronages.

Lastly, what advice would you give to the budding artists?
“The best advice I can offer to budding cartoonists including myself, is to never let that child with a taste for nasty and offensive humour die within them”.

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