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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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Nailing It! – Interview with Sushmita

Nailing It! – Interview with Sushmita

Nailing It!

Interview with Sushmita

Sushmita, String artist

19th September, 2019

Sushmita is a working mother who juggles between her personal life and passion to create stunning pieces of string art. She believes that art can speak when words aren’t enough. 

Even though she started just an year ago, her dedication and love for her art has helped her establish herself as an artist. Always ready to explore her creativity and try new things, she has been successful in making a good number of people amazed by her work.

Every artist has their own personal definition of art. What is yours?

 I believe that everyone is an artist, and art is like therapy. I am glad that I turned my passion into my job and I believe that when I’ll look back, I would remember this decision as one of the best ones I made.

What was your childhood like? Do you believe the creative adult is the child who survived?

My childhood was pretty much normal. Surprisingly, I never explored my artistic abilities until my 12th grade. My dad was an art connoisseur. Looking at him, I got inspired and started trying out different forms of art. String art is something that I stuck on to.

Can you guide us through the process of making string art?

String art isn’t as easy as it looks. It requires a lot of patience and hardwork. There are a lot of minute details that need very careful execution, from hammering the nails to weaving the strings.

I could break the entire process into the following steps

Step 1: You have to be acquainted with hammers, plyers and nails.

Step 2: You should choose the perfect wooden base

Step 3: You should trace the outline and start hammering the nails (You could say Nail it!)

Step 4: Start weaving the designs of your choice with vibrant strings

What does your typical work day consist of?

I am a mother to an adorable two year old daughter. My entire day goes in taking care of her and playing with her. It’s during the night time, that I start work on the boards. Having a supportive husband, has made my life easier.

Every artist has that motivation from someone in their life to pursue their chosen path. Who gave you the courage to choose art as a career?

My parents and my husband have been my greatest support. Before starting string art, I was into UI designing. When I quit my job to pursue this full time, my husband was a little skeptical about it. But now, he gets more excited than me when I receive appreciation for my work.

When did you realise that art was your calling?

Although I have masters in IT, I was never interested in coding. I had to quit my job after having a baby. This is when I started making string art boards. If not for my daughter, I wouldn’t have started this.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years, as an artist?

I don’t think much about the future and love to stay in the present. I’m happy as long as I can entertain my child as well as me. Although, I would love to live in Goa after 10  years.

How do you deal with the obstacles that come in your way?

I believe that we can achieve success only if we come across certain hurdles on our way, I try to overcome them with an optimsic approach. 

What advice would you give to those artists who are interested in pursuing a career in string art?

Not everyone would love to do this and would want to do it. It needs persistence, dedication, love and patience.

Just do what you love to do and you’ll figure it out yourself, or come to me for guidance 😛

Lastly, they say that art can reduce stress and promote relaxation. Do you agree with this?

It gets a little stressful at times when you’re pursuing art full-time, but at the end of the day I’m doing what I love the most. Art is therapeutic in many ways!

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Weaving Magic with Strings – Interview with Anjani

Weaving Magic with Strings – Interview with Anjani

Interview with Anjani

Weaving Magic with Strings

Anjani, String artist

21st June,2019

Anjani Tank is a string-artist based in Maharastra. Anjani weaves magic with strings to make awe-inspiring string arts. She experiments with patterns and shapes to produce dazzling designs.

Although Anjani has been creative since childhood, it took her many years to listen to her creative soul, and become an artist. In fact, she didn’t start calling herself an artist, or sharing her art with the world, until the last year of her graduation

Read on more to find out Anjani’s artistic journey

Every artist has their own personal definition of art. What is yours?

According to me art is what you see/feel/know/wonder/imagine something and then turn that experience into an object. An artist does not perfect something, they move on to the new & different.

What was your childhood like? Do you believe the creative adult is the child who survived?

I was not great with my studies, and to be honest I wasn’t aware about my artistic abilities. But my parents always had my back and helped me to recognize and develop my talent. As we grow up, we start to limit ourselves to certain possibilities. Art helps us to become a child again and be more imaginative.

Can you guide us through the process of making string art?

-Raw materials should be kept handy, such as – Wooden Board, Stencil or Pattern, Nails and Hammer.

-The wooden board should be painted.

-Stencil should be placed or the design should be drawn.

-Nails should be hammered at a distance of 1cm approximately.

-Outline should be stringed, and then the artwork should be filled until complete.

String art for Weddings

Every artist has that motivation from someone in their life to pursue their chosen path. Who gave you the courage to choose art as a career?

My motivation to pursue my dream is my PARENTS. They have given everything they can and never stopped me from doing whatever I love, never compared me to anyone around and they clearly saw something in me that no one else could see when I was a kid. They are the one to give the courage, confidence and strength to face the world by being myself.

When did you realize that art was your calling?

When I was about to graduate just a year before that I got to know that art was it.

Where do you see yourself in the next ten years, as an artist?

I hardly plan my future, all I focus about is how to make my present better and learn from my past experiences as well. When I was a kid I never planned to become whatever I am today and here I am doing something creative and good.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I am a big time animal lover and I can’t stand anyone misbehaving with animals.

If you had a super power, what would it be?

I would really love to become invisible or read minds it would be a real fun.

What advice would you give to those artists who are interested in pursuing a career in string art?
String art is not something you would love to do in your daily routine until unless you are passionate and really love doing it. It’s not that hard but you always have to come up with new interesting concepts to attract the customers. Lastly, I would mention that every time you create a string art, you will always be better than before.

How has being an artist affected your personal growth?

Being an artist has increased my confidence level, connected me to great artists and increased my eagerness to learn new things everyday.

To check out more artwork by Anjani, click here.

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The Harmony of Circles – Interview with Saudamini Madra

The Harmony of Circles – Interview with Saudamini Madra

Interview with Saudamini Madra

The Harmony of Circles

Saudamini Madra,Mandala Artist

10th June,2019

Mandala means “a magical circle”. It is a complex abstract design that is usually circular in form. Generally, it has one identifiable center point, from which an array of shapes and symbols are formed.

Sometimes words are not enough to express what we know deep within ourselves. As they say, “When words fail, art speaks.” Mandala art can help us express ourselves through art and increase self awareness.

Saudamini Madra is a Mandala and Zentangle artist based in the US.  She is an apparel product manager by the day and views art as an escape from the everyday chaos of a 9-5 job. Her awe-inspiring work has caught the eyes of viewers from all across the globe.

 

Since when do you practice art? Who or what inspired you to pursue it?

“Ever since I was a little girl, drawing books and I have been inseparable. My parents encouraged and helped me cultivate this hobby. I studied various art forms and mediums for 3 years (1999 – 2002) and have been practicing since then.”

What made you to develop a liking towards mandalas and zentangles? Do you practice art full time?

“About a year ago, I came across some hand drawn mandalas. The intricate designs drew my attention. My friend encouraged me to draw my first mandala, and I have been obsessed since then.

I am a full-time Product Manager and draw in my free time.”

“Mandalas help us pull together the scattered parts of life and find order.”

Can you guide us through the process of creating Mandalas?

“I start my mandalas with a basic grid. For the patterns, I just go with the flow and enjoy the process of creation. I love seeing how various patterns come together in perfect harmony to create a beautiful mandala.”

Do you connect with mandalas on a spiritual level?

“Yes,  absolutely! I view art as an escape from the ordinary. I always lose track of time when I start working on a piece. Mandalas help us pull together the scattered parts of life and find order.”

Mandala art therapy is practiced widely to deal with stress and anxiety. Has this proven helpful to you?

“I feel any form of art is therapeutic. It has proven to help people dealing with stress and anxiety. It definitely helps me relax, meditate and get lost in the process.”

Is there any particular reason why all your art work is in Black and white? Do you experiment with colours as well?

“I LOVE black and white, even in my clothing choices! I admire the beauty in simplicity. It’s amazing how 2 colours can make such beautiful art pieces. Having said that, I enjoy working with colours too, but I do it rarely.”

Can you elaborate on the symbolism of mandala art, and the individual symbols used?

“The literal meaning of the word “Mandala” is circle, and circle mandalas are also one of the most commonly available forms of mandalas. Circles have very powerful significance in Hinduism and Buddhism.

Their emergence was first found in regions across the Himalaya and India, where people used the artistic expression of mandalas to form symbolic relationships between the universe and the spirit.”

 

What medium and tools do you use in mandala creation? What medium would you recommend for a beginning mandala artist? And is it sufficient for a beginner to learn from books and use his/her intuition?

“The tools I mostly use for my mandalas are pencil, protractor, compass ruler and a pen. A pen or pencil is a good medium for a beginner to start practicing. As they get comfortable and more confident with the flow, they can experiment with different mediums.

Everyone starts somewhere! There are so many books and coloring pages available that could be a great starting point for a beginner. Your intuition is the best voice to follow.”

What advice would you give for budding artists?

“Follow your intuition; there are patterns and inspirations all around us! Go with the flow, enjoy the process of creation and cherish the final result that comes together.

Always give credits to the original artist who’s work you have been inspired by.”

What are your thoughts about us (Stoned Santa)?

“Firstly, love the name!! Stoned Santa looks like a great initiative and platform for connecting artists and customers. Gifting is an art and Stoned Santa makes it easy for any customer. The best gifts are personalized, so it makes sense that a marketplace for custom artworks as gifts would do well!”

 

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Putting the ‘aw’ in drawings

Putting the ‘aw’ in drawings

Interview with Alicia Souza

Putting the ‘aw’ in drawings: Alica Souza on illustrations, moving countries and more.

Alicia Souza, Illustrator

20th May,2019

Alicia Souza is a successful entrepreneur, freelance illustrator and a loving pet mommy. Her deep rooted passion towards art made her move from Melbourne to Bangalore, to start a career as a freelance illustrator and eventually start her own store that sells over a hundred varieties of happy products that can make your day. She started off as a shy girl and today, “Alicia Souza” is a well established brand and she has over 219k followers on Instagram who adore her illustrations.

She believes that hard work and a cup of coffee can take you a long way. Here are excerpts from when we caught up with Alicia for a quick chat and many giggles.

Art is perceived differently by everyone. What does “Art” mean to you personally?

Art is an expression of how someone feels, in any form of creative output. Art becomes more meaningful when there’s some sort of emotion attached to it.

What are your earliest memories of drawing? Did you always enjoy drawing as a kid?

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember waking my mom up to show the scooter I drew with chalk, on the wall. I’m not sure if it looked like one, but in my head it was the most marvellous thing I had ever seen. 

Every kid loves drawing, some more than the other. Surprisingly, I didn’t draw much as a kid.

“Being a freelancer was my worst nightmare. But turns out, it was the best thing that happened to me.”

Being a freelancer has it’s ups and downs. What are your thoughts on the same?

When I started off as an illustrator, I struggled a lot as I was not familiar with any other illustartors in Bangalore. I was literally shooting in the dark. For someone like me, who’s very shy, being a freelancer was my worst nightmare. But turns out, it was the best thing that happened to me.

Just like any field, it has it’s pros and cons. I get to choose what I can work on. I can plan a sudden vacation, and not have to beg for leaves. At the same time, others’ holiday season is my busy season. Despite that, I still love what I do.

How do you think technology has changed the dynamics of art? 

Technology has changed everything. It helps to reach out to a huge audience soon. Digital softwares have introduced us to endless possibilities. I’m a hard core user of Photoshop and it’s biggest admirer. Even though the joy that comes out of drawing traditionally is more, mixed media has made everything much simpler. 

Few creative gifts from Alicia’s store.

Your career demands you to have a constant social media presence. Do you ever get frustrated with it?

 Funnily, many people have asked me this. I don’t get frustrated with social media at all. Maybe it’s because I don’t have to pretend to have fun, or look like a goddess all the time. I just post about my everyday life and nothing out of the ordinary, so I don’t feel pressurized.

Any current projects you’d like to talk about, and any dream project you’d like to be a part of?

I’m a freelancer and I have a merchandise store. Currently, I’m looking forward to improve my brand by designing new products. Everything is a bit of experimentation, so I hope it works out.

I do have a couple of dream projects, but I can’t talk about them yet.

 

“I believe that ultimately, everything works out for the best”

If you were to give up on either Chips or coffee, what would it be?

That’s a hard question to answer. I would never be able to give up on coffee or chips. This is sad, but I’d say ‘Chips’ as it’s something I should give up.

If you could travel back in time and talk to your former self, what would the conversation sound like?

I wouldn’t say anything. If I said that everything would be okay, my former self would’ve gotten lazy. I believe that ultimately, everything works out for the best. So, I’d let her deal with it. Although I doubt if I’ll take my own advice, in hindsight, I’d ask my younger self to sign all the important documents and maintain good paperwork.

Chips don’t lie.

Being an artist in India takes a lot of courage and determination. Who has been the greatest support throughout your journey?

It’s going to sound like an Oscar speech, but there are so many people who’ve supported me throughout the journey. My parents were extremely supportive when I came to Bangalore to do something outrageous; My friend, Bill wood was my mentor; My husband George, being a practical person gives me realistic advices; I can never forget the times when my brother’s wife sat in the stalls I put up to; My partner, Sourabh and the entire team are my biggest support and I can’t thank them enough.

Many budding illustrators look up to your work. What advice would you like to give them?

Stay diligent, be kind and do your work well.

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