“Take on board constructive criticism”
Your artwork is very impressive and distinctive. Where did your love for drawing start?
I can’t remember the exact beginnings but I’ve always enjoyed drawing, specifically detailed stuff. In school I peeled back the notebook cover papers until the white card was exposed and covered them in cartoons. It was and is just something I find relaxing.
Tell us something about the Bird People. Where did the inspiration come from?
When I was a teen I had a small fixation with Egypt mythology and animal headed gods and with masked people. I also enjoy androgyny. Over time that developed into gendered and androgynous bird people that filtered through my work. It started with a small black and white drawing called ‘Girl talk’ which was 2 bird headed girls in individual rooms talking through a tin-can.
I tried to apply to NID but didn’t make the cut, so when a recruitment drive from the University of the Arts visited Bombay my parents took me to sign up. I did a Foundation, then a B.A in illustration at Camberwell College of Arts and an M.A. in communication design at St. Martins College fo Arts & illustration in London.
Which has been your most memorable piece of art that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools that you used for the same?
Right now ‘The Queen’ & ‘Bucket Bath’ are my favourite pieces. They are quite different from each other: The Queen is a feminist horror about the cult of motherhood and the Bucket Bath is a more dream-like piece with a lot of details of deep sea creatures. They both use acrylic, feltpen, crayon, & ball-pen as mediums on heavy-weight paper.
I enjoy nudity and don’t love drawing clothes! I find drawing clothes only relevant if they mean something.
I usually have an idea while working on other things. I email myself ideas and notes. If I read the email after a week or so and the idea still makes sense I start drawing small thumbnails. Then I start pencilling it on a larger sheet. I use various image references for accuracy for some details or figure poses. I work in small doses after work so they can take a bit of time.
You work as a digital designer. What are the tools/software that you use regularly as a part of your work?
Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator for the most part.
I’m working on a large drawing about abortion and a small comic on superstition. I’m also part of a collective of south-asian women artists & illustrators called ‘Kadak’ and we will be showing our work in June at the East London Comics Festival in London (ELCAF June 10-12 in The Round Chapel, E5 0PU). Kadak is a collective of South Asian women who work with graphic storytelling of different kinds. ‘Kadak’ means strong, severe, sharp – like our tea. Kadak comprises of Aindri Chakraborty, Akhila Krishnan, Aarthi Parthasarathy, Garima Gupta, Pavithra Dikshit, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan & Mira Malhotra. Visit Kadak’s Facebook page here.
What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?
My advice is fairly mundane and given out often. My tutors always encouraged ambitious work and critical thinking. – that was good advice so I’ll pass it on. Draw regularly, Keep a sketch book if you can, take on board constructive criticism & challenge yourself in your work. I once read an artist advise against entering competitions because if you lost it felt very discouraging. I don’t know if that was good advice for everyone but it did help me since I find art competitions hugely depressing. I only won one competition in school and it was all downhill from there!
You can visit Janine’s website here.