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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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Meet Saloni Patel, an illustrator, designer and a cartoonist.

Meet Saloni Patel, an illustrator, designer and a cartoonist.

Meet Saloni Patel, an Illustrator, Designer and a Cartoonist

Saloni Patel is an Illustrator, Designer and a Cartoonist who goes by the name of “Moody Moo” on Instagram and has close to 54k followers. Her Illustrations revolve around her daily life, her favorite TV show characters, and the adventures of her pet dog, making her designs quirky and exclusive. 

Saloni aims to spreads positivity through her colourful illustrations with soul-stirring quotes.

Although she completed her Bachelors in management studies, she went on to pursue her passion and completed her MA in graphic designing from the United Kingdom. Although it was not an easy choice, she says, “Nothing worth having ever comes easy.”

Here are some excerpts from when we caught up with her for a quick chat.

How do you perceive art?
Art can mean differently to everyone. I view art as a form of self expression.

Why the name “moodyymoo”?

‘Moody’ because I am a moody person and ‘Moo’ because I’ve always been a chubby child. Thus! It’s just a silly name that I coined.

Your Illustrations are quirky, yet send a very strong message. What inspires you to do these?

I draw inspiration from my personal experiences – something I witness or read, daily routine, mood swings, Simba – my pup or pretty much anything that I find to be intriguing.

To what extent does your pet have an impact on your art?

He keeps my vibrations high, which is very important for creative juices to flow and the things that he does definitely give me content for my work/comics.

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

Mindless criticism has never helped, but constructive criticisism is always welcomed and has definitely helped me reflect on my drawing style, and improve.

How has your perception of seeing things changed after illustrating for such a long time?

Over the years, I have developed a keen eye for details. I no longer just view things as they are, but I’ve learned to observe any person or thing astutely.

How do you deal with a creative block?

Taking a break from work definitely helps when you’re having a creative block. I beat myself over it for a bit and then, I watch something inspiring; take a nap; have a snack and get back to what I do best – Creating Art. 

Many of your illustrations are based on TV shows. If you were to be a character of a TV show, which one and why would that be?

I really find Sheldon Cooper very fascinating and quirky. I adore his character and would love to be him.

Why? Because I want to know what it would like to live with an OCD and have a brilliant mind with eidetic memory. 

If you were to learn a new art-form, which one would it be?

I want to try learning pole dancing or aerial Yoga!

Lastly, what advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

Nothing worth having comes easy. You’ve got to be patient, diligent and open to learning new techniques. Stay up to date with latest trends, softwares & tools. Be nice to people – your fellow artists, your clients, your community, your followers and haters even (be nice by ignoring the haters).

Learn the tricks of the trade because social media is a great platform to promote your work. Have faith and don’t lose hope even if  initially you don’t get projects. With passion and determination, you’ll get there, slowly but surely .

Most importantly: Create, create and create – every single day. That’s the only way you’ll get there!

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Scribbles and Strokes – Interview with Pon Balaji

Scribbles and Strokes – Interview with Pon Balaji

Scribbles and Strokes – Interview with Pon Balaji

Pon Balaji is a prodigious scribble artist who creates wonders through mere scribbles and strokes. His distinct style has brought him recognition from all across the country.

Read on more to find out about this young and talented artist’s journey.

 Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?

It’s my space where I can pretty much do anything without guidelines and still have people to like them. Art is therapy.

Your sketches are so life-like, What inspires you to do these?

There is something in every subject that catches your attention. It may be the hair, eye, beard, expression or the very personality itself. I try my best to recreate that nuance that brought me to the reference.

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

Self-criticisms majorly. Following a plethora of talented artists bring self-realization and inferiority complex which would reflect in my next work. To be honest, I don’t handle criticisms well at times and I tend to get stressed out.

How has your perception changed after sketching for such a long time?

Yes, Summing up my previous answers, I have moved on from the urge to create photorealistic artworks to creating crazy, imperfect, different styled, artistic works.

Are you ever faced with a creative block? If yes, how do you get over it?

Thankfully, not yet. I usually keep a note of the ideas that I’d like to execute, one after the other.

 If you could go back in the past and change a decision that you made, what would it be? 

I wouldn’t change anything from my past as they are the experiences that have brought me here.

What role does music play in the illustrations you do?

Music, interviews and discussion videos are a part of my sketching process. They keep me company, and make me forget the passage of time.

If you were to be a character of a TV show, which one and why would that be?

Watson from Sherlock.

How important is traveling for an artist? Do you seek inspiration from every place you visit?

I beg to differ that travelling is a very inspiring experience. For me, seeing/ meeting new artists, their works, styles are more inspiring.

 What advice would you give for the upcoming artists? 

There are no rules, standards or guidelines in art. If anyone says otherwise, please ignore them and be unique.

If you had to name one person to draw up all the inspiration from, who would that be? 

There are two artists. First, J Vince Low, a scribble artist who opened me to a whole new world of expressive, modernistic art. Second, Biswal, an amazing painter and ballpoint artist, living icon but most importantly, a down to earth person! 

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa? 

Great platform for artists to get recognized and network with other artists and customers. Stoned Santa is doing a pretty good job at that.

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Interview of Harish Bhagavathula

Interview of Harish Bhagavathula

Interview with Harish Bhagavathula

Harish Bhagavathula is a scribble artist who makes life-like portraits by depicting the right mix of emotions. An artist, who not only sketches portraits but also the story behind them! He believes in celebrating art as a community and, so we agree with him. His distinct style of art has got him recognition all across the country.

Here are some excerpts from the conversation we had with him about his artistic journey and the stories behind his sketches.

Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?

Art is how I emote. Not everyone is good at communicating their thoughts effectively. We often try to label people who aren’t good at communicating their thoughts as introverts, unsociable, shy and so on.

Here’s where a hobby such as art comes to the rescue. Be it writing, drawing, music, dance, or any other form – art serves as a medium to express yourself in a way that’s more comfortable to you.

Your sketches are so life-like, What inspires you to do these?

I try to pick references that portray a good amount of emotions in them. Emotions add life to the picture be it extreme joy, surprise, sadness, anger, or anything else. This is very important to me while picking what to sketch.

Can you run us through your thought process while brainstorming for artistic inspirations?

Initially, it was only the emotions in certain pictures that made me sketch them out. But lately, I have started to create artwork to tell stories of people. 

I speak to many people on social media platforms. The conversations I have with them make me realize that there is another side to the person that we all do not get to see. Each one of has so many hidden emotions.

I make sketches based on these anonymous stories that I receive.

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

I haven’t received a lot of criticism but people send me photos of artwork similar to mine which are but beautifully done. These serve as an inspiration and help me do better.

How has your perception changed after sketching for such a long time?

As artists, we already have a different perception of life. we are great observers, and like to observe things and reflect out thoughts through our work.

Have you collaborated with any other artists and brands, if yes how was this experience?

I worked collaborated with some musicians to create art for their albums.

Apart from this, I follow something called #drawwithmango experiment, a simple art challenge I conduct on Instagram where many of artists like me work around a theme to create artwork. This has been a great experience for me that has helped me to discover many wonderful artists and feel like I’m part of a beautiful community.

Are you ever faced with a creative block? If yes, how do you get over it?

I cannot draw whenever and wherever. It just doesn’t happen. I don’t know if I should term it as a a creative block. I can’t treat art like an assignment. As I said, it could be a story of someone I heard, a conversation I’ve had with someone, or something happening around me that triggers my urge to draw and when it does, I got the skill to.

If you could go back in the past and change a decision that you made, what would it be?

I’ve been creating art since I was a kid. But it took me ages to come out and share what I do with everyone. I wish I could’ve done this earlier but again, you’re never too late to start.

What role does music play in the illustrations you do?

A lot! It’s the lyrics that fascinate me. Songs are nothing but lyrics sung musically and lyrics have a great impact on me, especially the old ones which are very impactful.

If you were to be a character of a TV show, which one and why would that be?

I think I would be George Costanza from Seinfeld. Self-loathing, Slow witted, a man of temptations and also self-absorbed.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

I’m not sure if I am qualified to do that. But, one thing I would say is that never compare artists. Art isn’t a race and the same goes for life. There is no better art or a bigger artist. It’s all in your head. You create art only and only for yourself and if it also impresses someone else, it is a bonus!

If you had to name one person to draw up all the inspiration from, who would that be?

There are so many of them but there’s one person I learned a lot from, Karthik Abhiram. Around one and a half years ago, I drew simple outline sketches and posted them on social media. I wasn’t even sure if anyone noticed them.

Karthik recognized my work and appreciated my work. That gave me a moral boost to do better.

I love the way he interacts with every artist big or small, with equal respect. I try to do the same, by encouraging artists around me. In the end, it’s all about celebrating art.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

One thing I noticed is that not all artists are good at networking, marketing, and selling. Here’s where they could use the help of platforms like Stoned Santa, trying to bring their work closer to people. Also. happy to see you interviewing artists from around the country and introducing them to the world. Kudos to the team!

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Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Sangeeta Prayaga is a self-taught Mandala artist and an illustrator who hails from Bangalore. She is Revamping this age-old art by adding her own elements to the traditional design to make it look more beautiful. She also creates adorable illustrations that have created quite a buzz on social media.

We interviewed Sangeeta to find out the secrets behind her ornate art and what inspired her to become an artist.

Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?

Art for me is meditation and a technique to calm myself, a channel through which I can tell my stories and escape from negativity. In short, art for me is my happy place! 

Your Illustrations are so unique, yet send a very strong message. What inspires you to do these? 

I channel my inner voice of positivity through the illustrations of baby elephants called Ganpat Rao and Gaja Lakshmi. I strongly believed that the world needed a therapy elephant, that’s when Ganpat Rao was created, and everyone on my Instagram instantly loved him! For these illustrations, I take inspiration from my own day-to-day life, the positive lessons I learned from my past and the ones that I am learning from my present!

Can you run us through your thought process while brainstorming for artistic inspirations?

I get inspired by the interactions I have with people and my personal experiences. I journal every little thing I learn or realize about life, people and then use them to make the illustrations. That’s one of the reasons why Ganpat Rao sounds so wise!

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

Thankfully, I take criticism well! I come from a family full of artists. My sister, who is an artist herself, has played an important role in my life when it comes to my growth as an artist. She has always given me constructive criticism and helped me shape my thought process while creating art.

I also seek feedback from my customers after each purchase to improve my product and store! 

Are you ever faced with a creative block? If yes, how do you get over it?

Yes, I have faced creative blocks. There are days when I have no creative ideas at all. On those days, I doodle anything and everything that comes to my mind. I would say drawing something is better than not drawing anything at all.

If you could go back in the past and change a decision that you made, what would it be?

I don’t think I would want to change anything. I am what I am today because of all the good and bad choices I’ve made. I have no regrets and I  just work towards becoming a better person every day. 

What role does music play in the illustrations you do?

My favorite artists are, Ludovico Einaudi, Michael Jackson and Billie Holiday. I listen to them all the time while drawing and their music helps me to get into “THE ZONE”!

How important is traveling for an artist? Do you seek inspiration from every place you visit?

Traveling plays a key role in the artists’ life! I had recently been to Vietnam. There’s so much to learn from the people there. I created illustrations that told stories about the strong women of Vietnam, the delicious food, and the experience of having a Ca Phe! Ganpat Rao loves sharing what he learned from each place he visits.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

Always have a strong purpose for your art. Your artistic skill is your superpower. Use it well! 

If you had to name one person to draw up all the inspiration from, who would that be?

Alicia Souza, hands down! She does put “aw in art”. When it comes to Mandalas, Rashmi Krishnappa and Saudamini Madra are the ones I look upto.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

First of all, love the name! Also, love the idea and your work. Gifting has always been an issue for me. I am bad when it comes to gifting and my husband will agree with that. I love how Stoned Santa has a gifting expert who can help people like me to find the perfect handcrafted gift. This is something most of us need. 

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