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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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Meet Anjali Mehta

Meet Anjali Mehta

Meet Anjali Mehta

Using illustrations as a mode of education and spreading ideas and issues ranging from animal endangerment, body positivity, women’s rights, feminism and breaking the stereotypical bars of society’s perception of men and women, Anjali Mehta creates energetic, bright, bold with confident mark-making art while most of them celebrate modern femininity in a way that has captured the attention of many.

Now let’s hear, what she has to say about her journey as an illustrator.

 

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

 As a necessity to survive and a catalyst for change. 

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

Yes, I was doing my MA this year and I used to attend lectures by different artists every week, which inspired me to question my practice and think about – “what my art is doing?” and “what I want my art to do?”. Once I gave that thought I realized I just don’t want to make pretty things I want to add meaning to it, so it can help empower someone or spread a message. Since then, I’m working around that.

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

Its a very long process for me, but now its a part of life rather than a brainstorming session. I usually take mental images of my musings and things I’m reading, sometimes I take notes on my phone of things I like to draw on. Then mostly on my own, my brain comes up with images and compositions of what I can do with the images and inspirations I’ve observed to create something new. The ideas come to me at random times, so it’s important to keep taking notes whenever you can. 

As an artist, what is the most asked question to you?

The most common ones are ”what is your inspiration?” Or “what is your art about?”.

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

They are a very important part of your artistic practice. If something doesn’t force you to change your existing comfortable methods and try something new,(which can be scary) your practice and talents cannot go forward.

Could you tell us about your experience of working with H&M?

Oh, it was a very small gig, The person who I was in touch with, Sidharth, was a very cooperative and creatively open client. I did those drawings and he liked my work, we did a few changes according to the brand guidelines and it was done. The whole event was cool to witness because seeing your art on the H&M logo and all the other communications in-store was a good feeling!

How differently has your perception changed as an illustrator?

My observation skills have changed completely, also the way I look at things will be very different from someone who isn’t an artist. Others might feel like that’s just a bird sitting on a pole, but for us, it could be beautiful composition if observed artistically. To be honest everything around you can be made into art you just need to see it.

If you were to learn an alternate art form which one would that be?

Probably, learn to play musical instruments, preferably a violin. 

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

Yes, the only way I think for me is to keep creating, don’t stop, if its not the best work you are doing, it still is leading you to your best work.

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

That’s difficult to answer, I don’t regret doing something so strongly. On a lighter note I would have bought a bigger Ipad, the one I have is good but I realized later that the bigger one would have been better for my artwork.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

That’s tough, but I’ll just say believe in your art and keep making it. It will help you in many ways. Also, don’t run after being famous on social media, those things don’t matter. 

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

For me, that is the most essential. Travel can teach you things which no book can. And once you see the colors, flowers, paints from a different place and a different artist, it has the power to inspire you to create something beautiful like you haven’t done or seen before.

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

I relate to half of the characters I see on TV, it’s difficult to choose one. Maybe buttercup from Powerpuff girls, cause of her attitude towards things, it’s very me or Gina from Brooklyn Nine Nine, simply because I would love to be her, haha. 

 

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Meet Jasjyot Singh Hans

Meet Jasjyot Singh Hans

Meet Jasjyot Singh Hans

What do you call an artist who catches your attention by his amazing illustrations, and then makes you contemplate through the unconventional drawings and at the same time makes your jaw drop with the striking illustrations for the fashion industry? 

Well, we know him by the name Jasjyot Singh Hans. His art has made it into journals, newspapers, clothing, walls, and hearts of the people. Here are a few insights from the conversation we had with him.

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

I think of art as an expression of one’s identity. What we draw or create is often a reflection of our own thoughts and beliefs.

Your Illustrations send a very strong message. What inspires you to do these?

I believe regardless of the final outcome, my artwork usually, revolve around themes that are quite personal to me. My work mostly expresses nostalgia and expands on ideas of body image, beauty, and identity, all of them being quite close to my heart.

Your urban depictions are beautiful. What kind of ambience do you look for the most?

I like the idea of creating something large scale much more than the work that can be seen in my sketchbook or website. There’s something really powerful to witness my work at that scale and see it spreading the message of strength and togetherness.

There are such times too when it’s just about creating something that feels playful, something that could put a smile on people’s faces. But whatever it may be, the idea usually comes together keeping the location and the canvas (wall) size in mind. 

Have you ever collaborated with an artist or a brand? If yes, How was the experience?

Yes, because as illustrators, collaboration is central to what we do. We often rely on a body of text/ context to create imagery around. The experience varies on how close the subject is to the illustrator per se, but personally, I find the process of working on varied themes in different styles very interesting and invigorating. 

How has your perception of seeing things changed after starting illustrating?

I feel like the perception of things/ subjects keeps evolving as you create more artwork. So many times I get work on subjects I know little to nothing about but through research, I’m able to expand my knowledge. This helps me in making my artwork more impactful and present it in the best possible way.

Could you tell us about your teaching experience in Baltimore?

I just finished teaching illustration for the first semester at Towson University, Baltimore. I never thought imparting what I know about the industry would bring me as much joy as it actually does. There are certain things that I don’t particularly feel comfortable with (like dealing with paperwork/ scheduling/ public speaking), and teaching has really helped me stay on top of these things.

I still have a long way to go on this journey as a teacher, but so far I’m enjoying mentoring the next generation of illustrators!

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

Creative blocks are part of the creative process and it’s best not to dismiss them. I usually listen to new music, read a book, sulk, watch a movie, take a nap, go out to a new neighbourhood, etc.

Most importantly, what helps me get over a creative block is drawing through it! It sounds silly, but you have to work your way out of it. It’s different for different people, but this usually works for me. 

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

I strongly believe that my past has helped me in becoming what I am today. So I don’t think about it as a set of mistakes but something has contributed to my growth. Hence, I would not really change anything.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists? 

Just one thing – PUT IN THE DAMN HOURS 🙂

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Interview with Surya Shetty | Water color portrait artist

Interview with Surya Shetty | Water color portrait artist

Interview of Surya Shetty

Surya Shetty is a brilliant water-color and digital artist who creates prodigious paintings. Just like every other Indian-kid, he studied engineering only to realise that his passion lies in the field of art.

Reading an interview of an extremely passionate man is enough to fill anyone’s appetite who is hungry for true a unbiased inspiration. Let’s take a look at his journey.

When did you start drawing? How did you develop an inclination towards art? 

I started the following art passionately about three years ago, during my final year of engineering. It all started with mindless doodling and then gradually developed into fine art. Art gave me a sense of freedom  and I just got hooked onto it.

When did you decide to take up art? How has the journey been so far? Were your family and friends supportive? 

Surprisingly, I always thought I would end up doing an IT Job, but destiny had different plans for me.

I started drawing as a hobby but as time passed, I realized that art is my passion and this is something I would love to pursue. The journey has been great.  I have had the opportunity to work on some really interesting projects with some great minds, from portraits to murals.

Currently I am working with Dunzo as a visual designer. Instagram has played an important role in encouraging me to pursue art. My parents were not very happy with my decision initaially, but over time they came on-board after seeing that I was doing well.

What made you choose watercolors as your preferred art medium? 

Watercolor is an unforgiving medium but it comes with its sense of beauty. I love colors and the only watercolor would allow me to play with colors the way I wanted to.

What is the first feature that you observe in people while drawing their portraits?

Eyes. The rest of the portrait is shadowed by the eyes.

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

As I said Instagram had a big part in exhibiting what I could do and it got me commissioned work. 

If we take digital illustration software, it has opened art to more people.

 

Any current projects that you’d like to talk about? What’s your ultimate dream project?

Just going with the flow for now.

Being an artist, you might have faced criticism. How do you deal with this?

I am always trying to learn. So I consider it to be constructive criticism and try to improve on the next one.

What are the things that you’re tired of listening, as an artist?

“Can I get a free portrait?”

Many ask me this, and I don’t know what to say. 

If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Absolutely nothing. I am too young to be advising my younger self. I am still learning and figuring out a lot of things. Some years down the line, maybe I’ll have some piece of advice to share with my younger self. 

Your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

It has been a great platform to start my career in the art field. It got me a lot of visibility. It has been a fun ride with you guys.

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