Duration: One year.
Location: Queens, New York.
Education: MFA in illustration as visual essay, School of Visual Arts, New York, New York.
Career path: I first started drawing the places and things I wanted to remember when I was told that I was “too young” to carry around a camera. I became very interested in drawing, but I never thought it could be a career, as art as a profession is not encouraged in India. A few years later, I finished my undergraduate degree in computer science engineering and got an information technology job at a major company in India.
After working there for three years, I got frustrated and realized that I needed to make a change, so I looked up different creative fields and found illustration. I then spent a year making my portfolio and applying to three art schools, eventually getting selected for the MFA program at the School of Visual Arts. Being a student in the illustration as visual essay program and having the best illustrators and designers in the field mentoring me, along with my talented and supportive peers, was the best preparation for the field of professional illustration.
Artistic influences: During my childhood, I was influenced by the cartoons I watched on TV; in middle school, I drew a lot of anime because that’s what I was watching at the time. My work looks different now because my interests and surroundings have changed. I constantly absorb things I come across and incorporate them into my work as details, like an art piece, a photograph, a fashion show or even architecture. I am also influenced by the use of patterns and details, which are so abundant in Indian art.
Favorite project: My first job for Fast Company, which was about investors acting prude and not investing in the sex technology industry. Despite it being a tough topic, I created successful illustrations. I am very grateful to creative director Florian Bachleda, who trusted me with the job and guided me. My other favorite assignment was making a Google Doodle in commemoration of Rukhmabai Raut, India’s first practicing lady doctor, for her 153rd birthday. It was an exciting project to work on. It was wonderful to work with art director Erich Nagler, who has a great eye for details.
Work environment: I have a studio setup at home. My workspace is next to a huge window because I like sunlight. I also have a shelf with my favorite picture books, which I like to look at for both fun and sometimes work. On the wall next to my desk is a planner for the month, a to-do list for the day and a copy of the work that needs to be revised soon. I live by myself, so it’s a quiet and peaceful environment.
Approach: I treat each job assignment as a personal project and make it fun. When I send sketches to an art director, I always offer solutions that I would be excited to work on so that no matter which idea is picked, I am happy to draw it. To stay interested in what I do, I find it is important to draw what I like.
Aspirations: To be involved in designing and illustrating book jackets. After working on the Google Doodle, I realized that I would love to be more involved in projects where both illustration and lettering are needed. I would also like to collaborate with brands in the apparel industry and with ceramic product brands.
Philosophy: Never stop learning. Be persistent. Have hope and be nice.