A few months ago, I was approached by a publication and they wanted me to do a series of illustrations for them . We only went as far as doing one rough draft and they decided not to go ahead with the project. I wasn’t given a reason for the decision , which was confusing. While it left me feeling a little low, I’ve learnt that disappointments are part of the game and I told myself to forget about it and concentrate on possibilities and upcoming projects in the future .
A few weeks later, one morning , I woke up and checked my email on my phone. There was an email for me from Vogue India asking if I could do a few illustrations for their November issue. I had to rub my eyes to check if I was hallucinating. I wasn’t .
The project was to create 14 illustrations for the Couture Report to be published in the November issue. The bridal couture designs by the designers , were shown at the 10th edition of India Couture Week in July ’17. The designers in the report that I was going to illustrate were Anita Dongre, Shymal & BHumika, Anamika Khanna, Tarun Tahiliani, Rina Dhaka, Manav Gangwani, Reynu Taandon, Varun Bahl, Rohit Bal , Monisha Jaising, Gaurav Gupta, Anju Modi , Rahul Misra and Manish Malhotra.
I was floored and the process began soon to create the illustrations . We had just about 2 weeks to finish it up for print. I’d like to thank the amazing team at Vogue India for their art direction and patience during this entire collaborative process. It was a back and forth process to make sure that the illustrations were a good mix of my artistic style and Vogue aesthetics.
As any project begins, we had to do the first round of first drafts -first in pencil and then the first round in color and some detail .
We started with one illustration (Shyamal Bhumika – see below) from start to finish to get a sense of the final look . Once we got that down, it helped me understand what the final look was going to be .
The question that I’ve gotten most , is about the sketching process and the kind of materials used. I’ve done my best to answer those questions below.
All of the first drafts were hand sketched and hand painted (see above images ) . This was the stage where the most amount of changes/ feedback took place to make sure, we got the colors of the outfits , poses , hair etc to a point where it would evolve into the final .
I created Shyamal Bhumika and Anamika Khanna ,completely by hand , using a mix of watercolors, markers and pen . I used Winston and Newton watercolors for Shyamal & Bhumika along with Sakura Micron Pens for the detailing and Uniball Signo White pen for the sparkle. I used Copic Markers and Copic multiliner and Sakura Micron Pens to detail. I scanned them in and digitally edited them , in Procreate app on the Ipad Pro , for the final look.
With the Apple Pencil , I feel the comfort of working with a regular pencil . I’m able to draw and sketch the same way that I would with a pencil. Procreate app has a plethora of pens, paint styles, effects and more. For those who’ve never worked with it , the additional benefit is that you can work using layers and create PSD files for Adobe Photoshop. It helped that I worked on the majority of the outfits digitally . As you will see from the reference images, below, each outfit has an immense amount of detailing – embroidery, color- wise, the fall of the fabric etc. I was able to zoom into each detail and work on it. It’s easier to re create when edits and changes are requested than on paper, for sure – especially when there is a stringent deadline to be met.
I have poured my heart and soul into this collaboration . I worked for 2 straight weeks on this project. I’d go to bed by 10ish pm . I’d wake up early to get a start to the day .. after a certain point, one questions if 3 am is late at night or early in the morning !
From the very outset, the art direction was clear – the outfits had to be the main focus – making sure that it referenced from the photographs provided . Up until the last day , I worked to make sure each illustration matched every edit request , art direction and did justice to the designer’s work . One of the questions has been , how long it took me to do each illustration . On an average , each illustration – from pencil to final look was 10 – 15 hours – depending on the complexity of the outfit. I’m pretty certain, adrenalin kept me going through this rigorous process . On the final day, I worked through the night and turned in the work in, the morning of my husband’s birthday .
Of course, at 2:00 am , my Ipad and my Apple Pencil , both, needed recharging – as did I ! Nothing that coconut water and ginger infused water with a dash of lemon couldn’t take care of 😉 I am proud of myself that I limited myself to 2 cups of caffeine and stuck to a 45 minute run/walk everyday during this period . It helped me stay focussed with long periods of sedentary and intense work .
I knew the issue would be out on November 4th in India . Obviously, i had a sleepless night wondering how it would all look . That night I dreamt that I had the issue in hand and I turned it cover to cover – but my work had not been included in it ! Such is the way the mind works. But, I have to thank those who wrote to me the next day , saying they saw my work in the issue ! Vogue India sent me the pdfs of the final report , shortly, and I was almost in tears.
It is such a satisfying feeling when your work is finally out in the real world. It took me back to the moment when my work didn’t move forward with the other publication and I told myself that there were better things to come. I had a serendipitous moment when I got the email from Vogue India- this was meant to be. The universe works in mysterious ways and positive thinking goes a long way. Yes, rejection is part of the game. But there’s something bigger and better ahead.
I hope I’ve answered most queries about this project that people have asked me about. Feel free to contact me if you have questions or just to say hi 🙂 Thank you to Vogue India , again ! Thanks to every single one of you who wrote to me, sent me snapshots of your copy of Vogue and my work in it . It is truly humbling .
Oh and yes, my copy of Vogue India arrived from India a few days ago,and yes, it sits on my coffee table 🙂