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Inspirational reads: I’ve been rereading The World of Edena by Moebius for the hundredth time, and I’m still amazed by the sheer genius that is Jean Giraud. I’ve also been reading Annihilation of Caste by B. R. Ambedkar and Coming Out as Dalit by Yashica Dutt to learn more about my Tamil and Dalit heritage.

Aspiration: I’m interested in creating worlds where women, people of color, queer people, and underrepresented communities, like Dalit and lower caste, are defined as not only existing but also as protagonists with their own fully fleshed-out journeys. Especially in the futuristic and sci-fi realm, as speculative narratives of radical and progressive stories are still not as prevalent and are rarely explored in the mainstream illustration field.

Industry definers: I absolutely love Aravani Art Project, a women and trans women–led organization in India that works on public art and illustration projects that highlight trans and queer issues. I also love Jasjyot Singh Hans, Lauren YS and Rajni Perera, who pull from their respective cultures and heritages to create unique hybridized, futuristic characters and worlds.

Natural fascination: I used to look at great abstract painters from our time and from history. Now, I find inspiration from nature. My latest inspiration was from a leaf’s pattern. Sometimes nature’s uses of lines with tree branches are so mesmerizing to look at.

Mind-blowing work: Armando Veve’s cover illustration for the New York Times’ At Home section. I mean, whatever Armando draws always blows our minds, right?

Charming voice: Min Heo! I love her funny, clever stories. She uses space so well, with the right amount of exaggeration of the characters and shapes, and it looks so satisfying to the eye. I also love her minimal use of color.

Digging deeper: I used to see illustration as just pictures for children’s books or just drawings accompanying articles—nothing more. I didn’t find it interesting. But after studying graphic design and getting interested in editorial work, I found out that illustration can also be a tool for problem-solving. It can show you different perspectives and even talk to you. It’s more than just pictures.

Organization at a glance: I’m a bit old-school; I love to use paper planners on my wall and write down all my projects and delivery dates. It is the perfect way to have everything in my view every day.

Valuable platforms: For me, Instagram works perfectly to reach new clients. Most of my clients find me through this platform. But I also like to use Behance and Ello to spread my work. I love scrolling down my timeline on Instagram and reading magazines like Juxtapoz and visiting websites like It’s Nice That.

History lessons: Silvia Federici’s Caliban and the Witch and Sara Marcus’s Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution. These two books really inspired me because they both talk about women’s history, but each book covers a different subject.

Smile-inducing visuals: The work of Guilherme Manzi, an illustrator from Brazil.

Dream jobs: I’ve always wanted to work with the New York Times or The New Yorker. It is still a dream that I hope I can someday realize.

Splurge-worthy purchase: I’m a one-person creative team who works from home in a busy city. I think the best thing I bought for my business is a proper pair of noise-canceling headphones, specifically the Sony WH-1000XM3.

Trusty tool: Lazy Nezumi, the line-stabilizing plug-in for Photoshop that is only available on the PC, is so critical for my work that I can’t believe Adobe hasn’t bought it by now. Photoshop has its own line-smoothing solution, which is similar but not nearly as good or feature-rich.

Intellectual inspiration: You couldn’t tell by looking at my work, but I’ve been reading great Russian classics this year, from authors like Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Nikolai Gogol, and found them to be incredibly inspiring. They’re more of a spiritual and intellectual inspiration rather than a visual one, but I think that is something everybody needs.

Stress reliever: I’ve gone back to playing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Open-world games are a nice alternative now that we can’t travel anywhere. Also, I love endlessly scrolling through YouTube while cuddling with my dog Katya.

Industry changer: The Black Lives Matter movement, the 1619 Project, and the larger conversation about race and racial equity that’s been happening in the United States have resulted in many previously unheard voices to be heard. Artists like Victoria Cassinova, who’ve been doing great work, might’ve remained in a lot of art directors’ blind spots if not for this reexamination.

Reference trove: One of my favorite little-known resources is the ESPN Body Issue archive. It’s a collection of high-resolution photographs of athletic body types of all shapes and sizes in motion. It’s been invaluable as an anatomy reference, both for commercial work and for personal practice.

Art to envy: Sam Spratt’s cover for Kid Cudi’s latest album, Man On the Moon III. Everything I try to do with color and portraiture, he did in that piece.

Dream clients: I’d love to do something official for Serena Williams or Naomi Osaka. I consider Serena the greatest athlete of all time, or at least the most accomplished. Other than that, I’d love to get a crack at a Criterion Collection title one day.


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