Sometimes I find myself face to face with my own limitations, drawing myself into a corner that spirals into thinking, “I suck, I can’t do this.”
Celeste: Hi Nidhi! I wanted to chat to you because I stumbled upon your illustration portfolio and was really taking with your style. You definitely have a particular style of textures and bright colours (my favorite), with most of your work being digital. Did you start out in traditional medium – and what made you end up in the digital medium?
Nidhi: The vast majority of my illustrations are digital. I have played with wood burnings and watercolor over the past few years and I truly enjoy it. I feel that each medium has its benefits and drawbacks. We live in a time and place where digital tools mimic traditional and afford a lot of flexibility. I will always explore new mediums, and as an artist I don’t know where that might take me next, but I do feel most strongly about digital.
I started with traditional and still sketch on paper as much as I can. I am currently creating my debut graphic novel digitally. But I firmly believe in honing your drawing skills before turning to digital. Nothing can replace a steady hand. Drawing on the computer before mastering paper can be very frustrating. I think many students believes the computer can do the work for you – that’s completely untrue. You must develop your eye, your hand and your understanding of form and shape before venturing into color. I spent a couple years in art school, before I dropped out, drawing traditionally before I began working digitally.
Celeste: Tell us a little about your inspiration? You have such a wide range of illustrations for your products, the images must have come from somewhere.
Nidhi: I feel like we are surrounded by inspiration; Every day. It’s hard to see it sometimes, because there are a multitude of distractions but I really believe that beauty is everywhere. I draw a lot from my life – every day I see stories in the interactions I have with my husband, daughter, and kitties. I also love animals and I love translating that love into art.
Celeste: I really like your tranquil piece of the boy and dog meditating in the beautiful cherry blossom. Can you walk us through the various stages of creating something like that? Do you use PhotoShop and do you sketch beforehand and scan in or draw straight in digital?
Nidhi: I begin in flash with a line drawing, then I draw over that with solid color. I export my flash file in layers to photoshop and add shadows, lighting and adjust the colors.The best way to see a process for one of my drawings is to look at this GIF I recently created.
Celeste: Most of our readers write or illustrate children’s books. But you have recently (as far as I’ve understand it) ventured to write your own graphic novel. Tell us a little about that project and the process involved.
Nidhi: Working on Pashmina, my graphic novel, is similar and different to making a children’s book. I am writing and drawing the entire 146 page book so that’s a core difference – depth and breadth of story and art. I’ve already spent 3 years on the project from script drafts to thumbnails. I am currently drawing the final art.
It’s quite amazing to learn how to communicate in sequential art. You can enjoy my stand-alone illustrations without a story but with a graphic novel you need to know what comes before and what comes after. I am learning when to rely on the text to communicate the story, and when to rely on the pictures—and when they must work together. The panel layout is complex; the illustrations need to move the story along and avoid become stagnant or redundant. Sometimes I find myself face to face with my own limitations, drawing myself into a corner that spirals into thinking, “I suck, I can’t do this.” But most of the time it’s a wonderful challenge where I’m wondering, “How far can I push myself to make this more readable and more compelling?”
Celeste: You also sell your illustrations online. Did you originally start out with an online shop or did you stock your local shops first – how did it all come about?
Nidhi: I started with an Etsy shop after drawing for a few years and sharing my work with a small mailing list of friends and family. That list grew and people asked for prints of my work. I began my Etsy shop in 2010 and 2 years later launched my own website. In that 2 year period I approached a lot of local shops to carry my work. Most said no and some said yes! It’s a constant hustle. I’ve achieved mild success only because I keep working and keep pushing.
Celeste: Nidhi, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat to me today! Where can people find you on the internet?