Musings: Interview With Vrushali Somavanshi

Patterns, motifs and intricate details provide such an unusual structure to art. Vrushali Somvanshi shows us how through her portraits of vivid exploration. The colourful expanse of her work is rooted in all that’s personal and familiar, often inspired by her own experiences.

We had a little chat with Vrushali and were surprised to know that she studied engineering for four years before venturing into art. She is currently a student at the Srishti School of Art, Design And Technology, where she continues to follow her dream of becoming an artist.


It’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you Vrushali, please tell us more about yourself.

Hello there. I was born in Ahmedabad….after that I shifted to Bhopal, started my schooling there; then in 5th grade I flew off to Bangalore and stayed there for 5 years. I came to Mumbai when I was in 10th grade and finished my schooling here, also 4 years of Engineering.

My dad has a transferable job so yes, I’ve shifted a LOT.

My childhood has been pretty normal, I drew a lot like most girls do. Lot of flowers, princesses and teddys.  My aspirations varied from astronaut-scientist-tennis player-singer and finally a designer now 😛

Currently I reside in Bangalore pursuing my Masters in Design at Srishti. I live in Yelahanka which is super peaceful and away from the city. Perfect place to pursue my creative interests.

How would you describe your journey towards becoming an artist?

I have to admit that being an “Artist” or a “Designer” was not something I had always dreamed about. I took my time to figure out what I wanted. Going towards what I really wanted in life started initially with a lot of confusion, soul searching and a thorough assessment of my skills and interests.

I was in my second year of college and I was in the creative team which was put together to design the posters for the college festival. It was then that I started designing things, some of them were pretty terrible, but I realized something important. I loved it. Damn it I did.

I decided to explore my interest further and did a short course in Graphic Designing. I got well acquainted with basic design softwares. After that I started freelancing and did a few internships, all this while still pursuing my Engineering. I realized that this brought me immense happiness and made me feel worthy. It was pure joy and I was willing to put in a lot of hard work into this without any incentive. That’s when I knew I simply had to do this all my life. I put together a decent portfolio and applied to Design colleges, I loved Srishti and chose to go there.

Now, my real journey started when I joined Srishti. Till now, I had been designing stuff which was just visually pleasing, never before had I understood in such detail the importance of process, research and documentation as I do now. Design is not art, you cannot leave things for interpretation. It is exact, ruled by constraints and context. I find it amusing and I am having a ball.

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Valar Morghulis by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters, notebooks and more available here.

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White Rabbit by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters, notebooks and more available here.

Is there any particular theme you have in mind when you approach your art?

Well it usually depends on what the project is. Currently I am doing projects which are very close to my heart and rely heavily on self expression, for example I recently illustrated a poem I had written long ago and also made a cookbook about my grandmother’s lip smacking Diwali recipes. I know once I get out I will be working on a lot of commercial projects for clients and companies so I’m investing my time trying to do things that I want and trying to find my identity as a designer.

Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from the moment you form your idea to the moment you complete it?

Process. You have no idea how many times I hear that word in a day. *Smiles*

There is so much importance given to process in the Design world. Well usually it starts with a lot of Research about my project.  Let me explain the process for my cookbook that I recently made (which you can check out here : https://www.behance.net/gallery/32113485/Cook-book-design).

I feel like being pretty elaborate about this one.

Well first I went to a lot of bookstores (almost 4) and checked out LOT of existing cookbooks, I noted down several details like different layouts used, number of words per page, number of typefaces used, their point size and most preferred ones, differences between Indian cookbooks and other ones, unique characteristics of cook books, contents and how the recipe was explained(sometimes also with a story where the chef tells us how he/she came across this dish, when and where they first ate it yada yada) extra information about where the ingredients can be found in different cities, alternatives and the list is endless. I also did some research about food photography, about the kind of crockery used for different cuisines, how the pictures were taken etc.

There is so much that you learn through research. You might say is there a real need to do so much for a simple cookbook? The answer is yes. You might not implement or use every bit of information that you’ve gained through research but it just makes you so much smarter in making decisions, what to include what not to include. A lot of hard work goes into designing the simplest of things.

Now I get my content. I zero in on what recipes I want to include and decide the size and theme of the book. I edit, re-edit (a thousand times) the content to make it as concise and uniform as possible. I fix a layout and put it all in. I try my best to avoid using hyphenation as much as possible, avoid orphans and a lot of other things(sometimes I’m unsuccessful). I find this the most irritating thing to do. It’s a pain, aligning text so it fits the best way possible and it takes a lot of skill. *Bows down for publication designers*

After I was done with my research I had to do decide whether I wanted to photograph my dishes or illustrate them. I decided to illustrate keeping in mind the fact that if I was to photograph my dishes I would have to cook them myself and that was pretty much not going to happen considering the time limit. Then I start sketching, I sketch roughly everything that comes to my mind in context to my subject. Then I start working on bringing those elements together and giving them all a similar visual identity. All elements have to look like they belong together. I decide the colour scheme I make rough sketches and digitize them later.

I take test prints of the entire book, increase point size of the text incase it’s not readable, do colour corrections if needed. After I’m done I’m off to the printer, I decide which paper I want and get it printed. No, it doesn’t end there. You SIT there are supervise the whole thing, you might end up with scratches on your book if you’ve used a textured paper, some colour might look a little different from what you expected, someone might mess up the cutting, you can end up with black print marks on your pages, well all this usually doesn’t happen when you choose a good printer. But you know, they are possibilities and there is no way you can let a bad printing job spoil the amount of hard work you have put into crafting your work.

When you finally get your hands on the finished copy of your work, you almost want to tell everyone to put on gloves before handing it over to them or just frame it and put it up on the wall and you know let it just stay there….protected. You will hold it like a baby in your arms and it literally is your baby, isn’t it? It is actually just like giving birth just less physically torturing. Haha.

It’s a beautiful feeling and it NEVER EVER ceases to exist. You will always be excited to see your work finally take form.

In design colleges you usually also have to document the entire thing with pictures of your process so you can reflect back and learn from it and also for anyone to get an insight on the work you put in to make the final product.

Well there you go, that’s the process.

Familiarize us with the tools you use to get the desired output; we would also love to have a glimpse at your work station.

Nothing fancy. I usually have a sketchbook near my laptop to scribble important stuff and yeah some munchies (something unhealthy usually works better). My drawers are usually full of black gel pens and microns..I love black and white. I draw stuff very roughly and add details while digitizing. I use the Wacom Intuos pen and touch tablet. It’s so slick!

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Floyd Motifs by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters, notebooks and more available here.

Do you remember the first thing you ever drew?

Flowers. A LOT of flowers.
I scribbled some really weird stuff on my original birth certificate too. I guess I was born to do this *grins*

Is there any artist whose work has influenced you significantly?

Oh yes, I love Malika Favre, Sanna Annukka, Storm Thorgerson, Steve Simpson and many more. I love Sameer Kulavoor, Sajid Wajid Shaikh and Mira Malhotra’s work. I also think Shaivalini Kumar, Khyati Trehan and Pia Meenakshi are doing some awesome work. Girl Power!!

How do you deal with deadlines?

Same way everyone else does, which involves sleep taking a backseat in your life..infact it doesn’t even have a seat, it just stands there in some corner of your room and sometimes you have to say goodbye, pick it up throw it out of the window and tell it to come back later.  It involves a newfound bond with coffee and having time to complain to your roomie about deadlines even when you are on a deadline.

Are you working on any projects currently? We’d love to know more about your work.

I’m researching for a self initiated Kinetic typography project right now. Sketching a bit. I’m just dabbling, doing stuff here and there. Discovering and learning new things.

What does success mean to you?

To me success would be doing what I love for as long as possible and most importantly, doing it well. Success would be to work with some great people and also get recognition and respect from the people I admire. Success would be to eventually create something that actually helps people. Success would be to create something revolutionary but it could also be to contribute something important even if it’s something small.

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Imperfect match by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters , notebooks and more available here.

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Tiger by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters, notebooks and more available here.

How important is music in recreating visions off your mind?

Oh! Music is everything. It has happened on countless occasions that a line from a song has inspired me to draw something or given birth to some kind of imagery.

I like listening to instrumental stuff usually if I am working. It brings a kind of calmness and clarity in thinking. I am especially in love with the track “Love scene 4” from the movie Zabriskie point OST and Silence in everywhere by Euphoria. I also absolutely love Odesza, Floyd, Daft punk, Hooverphonic and Arctic Monkeys. I also love most of the stuff by Amit Trivedi and the old songs by Rahman.

According to you, what is your greatest work so far? 

Umm. “Greatest” is a big word 😛

But I guess the work that I like the most is the poetry book (Little Nothings) I wrote and illustrated by myself. The content of course was very close to my heart and I was pretty happy with the way it came out.
(Check it out here https://www.behance.net/gallery/31127279/Little-Nothings-Illustrated-Poem)

Procrastination, what is your relationship with it? How do you deal with it?

I do not procrastinate much when I’m working on college projects. I am almost always on time unless it something really time consuming. But when it comes to self-initiated projects I do procrastinate a little. It’s like whenever I’m back home for the holidays I’ll be like okay I deserve a break from all the work I’ve been doing back in college and sometimes I rightfully do. But then it’s difficult to get back again and start doing work on things that I want to do by myself, even though they’re really interesting. So trying to work on that.

If you could wish for one, and only one superpower, what superpower would you chose?

To never sweat. Yes I would like to be super unsweaty girl. I have my logo ready.

If you weren’t an artist, what do think you would be doing?

I’m sure it would be something creative. I’d actually love to be a musician and have my own band.

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Dude Matter by Vrushali Somavanshi

Tshirts, prints, coasters, notebooks and more available here.

If you could give one piece of advice to budding artists, what would that be?

I’d like to say what I always say to myself. There are a lot of people who are better than you. Scattered around the world are infinite people who have something to say and are saying it very well. You would be a coward and an absolute idiot if you quit saying I’ll never be good enough, nobody thinks they are, even the best ones. You have to believe that what you have to say is unique and worthy, that your experience is yours and yours only and your work is inspired and informed by it. You are robbing the world of a little beauty whenever you put your pencil down. Pick it up, make something beautiful and never ever underestimate the power of love for your work and determination. Sometimes you won’t have something to say, sometimes it will take a lot of time, it’s not going to come easy but when it does, it will be worth it.

Lastly, how has the journey been with Cupick thus far?

Cupick is awesome. I think it has substance and is quite artist-centric. They actually make efforts to give their artists opportunities and recognition. I recently met Shaishav and Justin and they’re pretty cool, they seem driven to make this a success and it already is one. I think they’re constantly trying to up the ante and take it to another level. Cupick has a pretty talented artist community and I’m glad to be a part of it.

 

Discover more of Vrushali’s artwork at Cupick.com/26271202

 

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