February 25, 2019 Comments (0) Views: 615 Design, Graphic, Illustration

Illustrator Vishnu Nair about storytelling as a meaningful play

Vishnu Nair balances a day job as graphic designer with a personal illustration practice and still finds time to put paint to canvas!

How do you balance professional commitments with your personal art and illustration practice?

On the spectrum, if design is at one end where you work with the interests of others in mind, and art at the other, where image and message (often) act as a personal statement/expression, illustration falls somewhere in the middle – you are a lens through which someone else’s (or your own) story is told. You take liberties and play with storytelling, but never without keeping in mind the reader. Therefore between day and night (design and art) I end up switching roles. So some balance is achieved through problem solving by day and then putting on some podcasts and making shapes and lines talk by night. 

What is your approach to storytelling?

My approach to storytelling is one of play and meaning making, where I put characters and objects together in settings like a child playing with toys, putting a tiger and a ladder together perhaps to tell the story of a tiger trying to change a light bulb, so it can finish reading this Kipling fellow’s book everyone’s been on about. It’s a strange process of tangents, analogies and my unusual sense of wit.

I draw inspiration from an overheard conversation or a strange font choice or men wearing helmets indoors. It’s often a reaction between two or more things that inspire me to think of a story. It’s also often beautiful, peculiar objects, sights and moments that inspire me to pick up a pencil.


How do you see Indian pop culture today? 

Indian pop culture today is lively, unapologetic and confident. The cultural friction and awkwardness I knew as a teenager seems to have disappeared and there is this general air of maturity and global aspiration, stoked by the internet and greater accessibility. There seems to be a self awareness and confidence in Indian pop culture today that is refreshing and I am clueless and excited to see where we’re headed from here and how we will look back at this era.

Children’s book Gappu Gola (2018)

Read this story in POOL 102.

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