I didn’t realize I haven’t posted anything here in 8 months .. really ? I think about it , put it on my to – do list and then I don’t do it , obviously !
But it’s time I try to post here at least once a month – we’ll see , how much I hang on to that.Summer just flew by . We had a bunch of trips – Shenandoah Valley , New York City , Pittsburgh .The highlight of the trip was Falling Water, Bear Run .
Anyway, it’s back to school today – which means, a whole new school year . I might just have some chunks of time to myself during the day and someone doesn’t ask for food , or is bored or wants something done right away !
It means I have a middle schooler (!) and one in elementary . It means fall is around the corner. Cooler , crisp weather is on its way . Football will be on TV nonstop – my son and husband love football. I love fall , it is my most favorite time of the year . The color of the leaves just fills me with so much energy and I like to pour it all in my sketches . It also means New York Fashion Week is pretty soon . woo hoo! A whole bunch of fresh dose of inspiration to sketch .
It’s a good segway into Fashion week , since I started warming up this past week with a few illustrations from Lakme Fashion Week . Here’ are a few of them . I used my favorite mediums – watercolors and pen to illustrate these sketches.
I was good about getting a work in progress for one of them 🙂 I’m so proud of myself that I remembered to do this .
This one is Sushmita Sen in Sunita Shanker x RMKV Silks. It’s a reversible silk sari – a jumpsuit sari . Oh and once upon a time, I was a blushing bride in RMKV silk sari , as well 🙂
Starting on Sushmita Sen’s illustration ..
Adding more color
Close up of illustration in progress
Sushmita Sen ‘s illustration in progress
The one below is an Anushree Reddy lehenga . I love her designs — They are very soft and feminine . This illustration is of Malaika Arora Khan in Anushree Reddy’s design.
This post has to be the first of more , this year – I pray ! I fall off the wagon . But I must get back on it . Have a great week , my friends ! I’ll post my favorite looks from New York Fashion Week , for sure.
Over the last few years, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what I do .I will do my best to answer all of the questions .
In my experience and belief – we are ALL gifted with some creativity and we become experts at it by practicing the craft over and over again over a long period of time. Practice makes perfect . I don’t know if anything I ever do is perfect, I know that each time I practice, I get closer to perfection .
I came across this quote by Aamir Khan and it resonated with me . I am an optimist and believe that everyone can make a difference. I may not succeed but I want to try.
Here are some of the questions that have been asked :
My educational background
I’ve described some of it here , in my about page .
As a young child, I drew a lot. I loved to paint, sculpt and more. I studied architecture all of my college life – undergrad in India and Masters in the U.S. I enrolled for college in architecture in Mumbai . I firmly believe a lot of my techniques for drawing and appetite for design were formed through my favorite subject – Basic Design in our first year. Over the course of college , we worked on sketching skills, creating perspective drawings of objects and buildings . What was interesting to me was, everything was created keeping the human scale in mind. Everything was relative to the human being using a facility . But I never did , once, draw human anatomy. We sketched a simple human figure, but never in great detail . It was an outline of the human anatomy.
i was always intimidated to draw the human anatomy . It felt more fine art and I always felt I had to achieve perfection – so I never tried . And so , a lot of my college friends are completely surprised by what I do now 😉 Because I never did draw what I felt like in college – I was always repressed and held back . I was surrounded by some immensely talented people and I was intimidated by what they could do . So , I just drew and sketched what was expected from us and moved on to the next assignment. Although, I do remember, every time, I held a pencil to do a freehand sketch of a building at our trips to various places in India, I felt alive. Those were some of my best sketches . Ones, where I connected with my subject and didn’t care about who drew better than me or what my sketch compared to the person next to me – or what people would think of my work .
I remind myself of those experiences all the time – especially in this day and age of social media. Its so easy to compare one’s work with others and not perform to the best of one’s ability.
2. My journey into fashion illustration
I got back into painting , sketching slowly after I graduated from undergrad and then stopped again when I moved to the U.S for my Masters. I took up some painting briefly after I got my Masters in Architecture. I worked as an architect for many moons after that and life went on . Things change, and so did I .
Fast forward to 2015 , Instagram had taken over the world . My friend suggested I post my work on it . I did – it was mostly – patterns of flowers, leaves, geometrical shapes in watercolors and pen. This was January 2015 . About a month later, I came across some gorgeous illustrations – I didn’t know they were fashion illustrations. I didn’t know such a thing existed. I was following some wonderful illustrators – Megan Hess was one of them . I couldn’t help notice how beautiful the work was. I came across Shamekh Bluwi – an architect , now a fashion illustrator. And so on . I saw illustrations inspired by a single look- rendered in various artistic styles – some realistic, some quirky , some playful etc. It caught my attention . Soon , I wondered if I could try it . But then again, I hadn’t sketched human anatomy at all . I thought if I tried something , it might bolster my confidence to sketch . Months went by , I didn’t do anything concrete. But I had been always fascinated by the world of fashion – as an observer . I loved the red carpet gowns, I loved the various designer outfits on the celebrities. And art had always been in my life – one way or another. I just had no idea that a field existed where the two intersected.
The following September ’15 , I decided I would give fashion illustration a go . I decided to sketch the looks from New York Fashion Week – just that week to simply improve on my sketching skills. I thought , if I could get over my fear and nervousness of sketching a human anatomy , I could do just about anything. I figured , even if I messed up , who really cared ? I had about 250 followers on Instagram at that point . I didn’t think anyone would notice . My goal was only to have fun , learn something new and hopefully get better at what I loved to do . If you have the patience to scroll back on my Instagram feed , you can see the exact moment , I started illustrating fashion !
I sketched my ass off that week. I distinctly remember sketching 2-3 sketches per day during NYFW. Not only , was I pleasantly surprised at what I had produced , I got a few likes on them, they were shared on various fashion illustration accounts. The sketches were decent for someone who had never sketched the likes of fashion illustration . Although ,now, I do cringe at some of them ! I was especially blown away when Prabal Gurung liked my illustration of his design (see below). It bolstered my confidence that , what I created was good. I decided that I would not only sketch NYFW, I would sketch my favorite looks from Milan, London and Paris . So by the end of fashion month , my Instagram following had doubled – I was at a 500 followers.
This was completely unexpected and not something I had planned on. Shortly after Fashion Month , came the biggest surprise of all . I was included on Who What Wear’s list of Ultimate Fashion Illustrators on Instagram . I remember going through the article and wishing secretly that someday , I could be a part of such a list – only to find my name already included. I almost fell off my chair . Mind you, I had no clue what I was doing, at the time.
But, I was determined to figure it out . Have I figured it all out yet ? I’m not sure about that . It has been a steep learning curve. I have no background in fashion nor any formal training in illustration/ art . So , I have had to improvise and try new techniques and investigate somethings through trial and error . Some were a hit, some were a miss. But , I stay hungry and I stay foolish – the only way I will be able to learn and get better at what I do .I can assure you , noone’s journey in any field or life is the same. You’ll see that everyone has their own path that they explored before they are doing what they do.
I ended that year with so many people asking if I would do illustrations of them for Christmas gifts for their loved ones . Again, none of this , I had anticipated. But, I guess , if you take a calculated risk – it does pay off . Things picked up then on and I’m so happy that what I do , puts a smile on people’s faces, when it shows up on their Instagram feed. More importantly, I am happy doing what I do . I’m lost in what I do .
So in a nutshell , to those of you , who’ve asked me about how do I start ? Simply start . Practice . Practice . Try new techniques. Ask questions. Try new materials . Get over the fear of trying. Its just that – fear. Nothing more. It gets better . You will do better than you did yesterday . Don’t compare your work with others – it gets you nowhere .You only set yourself up for failure and disappointment. Figure out what works for you . What works for one person, may or may not work for you. Work towards being the best at what you do and to be the best version of yourself. Positive thoughts go a long way , don’t give up .
I guess , you could apply this little nugget to anything in this world – no matter if you are an illustrator or a lawyer or an architect 😉
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 .
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 🙂