Artist Shafali Anand is a caricature-artist who communicates big, bold ideas to the world through illustration.
Her work showcases the features and attitudes of politicians, entertainers and sports figures in simplified or exaggerated ways better known as caricature drawing. Either complimentary or insulting, they can serve a political purpose or be drawn solely for entertainment.
Based in Delhi-NCR, India she's worked for several publications, including The American Spectator magazine with her main line of work typically Cover Art and Inner Illustrations for Magazines and Books.
Caricatures can be quite difficult to create, the distortion is difficult because the features of the subject are what makes the subject recognizable, when you start fooling around with these features, you run the risk of losing the likeness of the subject. She conveys these challenges in her book "The Evolution of a Caricaturist - How to Draw Caricatures".
StudioVox recently had the privilege of talking with Shafali about her incredible caricatures and creative process.
How did your journey with art begin?
SA: Quite like it begins with most artists. As I child, I'd draw everywhere. I used to fill all the blank spaces in my books and notebooks with drawings. Unfortunately, I was equally fond of Mathematics and Physics and because becoming an engineer offered better career prospects, I became an engineer. The problem with the art-bug however is that once you are bitten by it, you keep relapsing; so I never stopped drawing; it was a heady experience, having a secret love, while going steady with a respectable job. Until I realized that I couldn't continue living a lie forever, and decided to devote myself to creative art and writing.
How did you become interested in caricature art?
SA: Upon reflection, I realize that I was into caricatures before I even knew the term. I always thought of funny big faces on funny small bodies as cartoons. I used to draw them quite often because they made people laugh. But to be truthful, I was first a portrait-artist (I think caricature-art is a special case of portrait art,) and then I picked up caricaturing along the way. I think I first thought of making people look funny when I chanced upon James C. Christensen's "A Journey of the Imagination." His awesome depiction of everyday issues that plague humans through caricatures, made me see how a caricature is a lot richer than a portrait in the expression it conveys.
What do you love about creating caricatures?
SA: I think what I love most about it is the challenge of walking the tightrope between likeness and exaggeration. Let me explain. A portrait is a true likeness of a person - the more it looks like its subject the better it is. So while painting a portrait an artist stays as close as to the real shapes, proportions, and placement of features on a face, as he can. A caricature on the other hand, requires that we selectively exaggerate the features without destroying the likeness. This means the very features that define a face, must change their shape & size and yet, the face must remain recognizable - and I love this challenge.
What's your creative process like? Is it spontaneous or planned out?
SA: When I am working for one of my clients, I always plan my work. This is one of the important differences between being an artist and an illustrator. As an illustrator, you must clip your creativity in the right places and ensure that it doesn't obscure that concept in any way. Actually, clipping occurs at different levels. For instance when I am working on inner illustrations I have a lot more independence in terms of placing the characters, providing space for titling etc., but when the art must go on a magazine cover, it has to be done in a way that it integrates well with the page and fits into that space. And it isn't just about the layout. It's also about the visualization of the concept. It emerges from the client's brief. Once I receive the brief, I make the sketch. When the sketch gets approved, and then the painting begins.
But then, when I am working on a caricature or an artwork for my own pleasure, I don't plan. There are times when I don't even sketch. I just paint as I fancy.
What kind or reactions do you hope to get from people when they see your art?
SA: I hope that my work would first evoke a smile and then a thought. I want my art, illustration or otherwise, to either brighten up someone's day or to start a thought that could change a life. Most of my work comprises magazine and book illustrations. One of the best reactions I ever got was from President Bill Clinton, when he saw his caricature on the cover of the Talk Business and Politics magazine. I received an email from his team that he "just loved it," and that they wanted to order prints. As a caricaturist, if the subject of my caricature says that he or she loves it - that makes me happy. I believe that as caricaturists we must do selective exaggeration that leads to humor and not endless distortion that results in ridiculing the subject; because a caricature must tickle, never hurt.
What do you find challenging about creating caricatures?
SA: It's the same thing that I love about it. Ensuring likeness while exaggerating features without ridiculing the subject. It's tough. There's always the tendency to exaggerate a rather unflattering feature (a squint, a bald-spot) - because they stand out - that's the easy way out, but it ends up ridiculing the subject. For me, the biggest challenge always is to create a likable humorous likeness. It was this challenge that made me think of other artists and art-students who would want to learn the art of caricaturing and a couple of years ago, I wrote a book, "The Evolution of a Caricaturist." This book is different from other books on the subject because in this I discuss the feature-frame method of creating caricatures - a method I invented by observing my own caricaturing methods. The idea behind the book was to establish a scientific process for creating humorous caricatures without sacrificing the likeness.
What are your favorite mediums to work with?
SA: I am comfortable working with most mediums. For color illustration-work, I mostly paint digitally using Adobe Photoshop. It's an awesome software for artists who want to continue painting using the traditional techniques, but on computer. For cartooning, I use Adobe Flash or draw using pen and ink. I also create graphics for mobile games and for those I use Adobe Illustrator. Among the traditional drawing methods, my favorites are Pen and Ink drawing and Oil painting - and I also do color portraits, especially of pets in color pencils. As you can see, I am not partial to any medium but yes, for illustration-work, I prefer digital painting - it's cleaner, faster, and the output is always ready-to-print.
Any particular artists works you admire?
SA: That would be a rather long list that keeps growing with time, but some have made a very strong impression on me. I think I should begin with Leonardo Da Vinci - who possibly was the first caricaturist of the world. But I like him even more because he was not just an artist but a physicist, a biologist, and a mathematician too. I think I'll never overcome my awe for the works of James Bama and James C. Christensen. Their works have a world of difference between them and I guess that's the kind of art I'll always aspire to create lives in that world. I'll always be inspired by the perfection of Bama's portraiture and the vibrance of Christensen's colors. And then, among the caricaturists of today, I love Thomas Fluharty for his confident strokes and his impatience - his brush appears to be in such a hurry that it rounds up his caricatures and makes them leap out of the pages. I am also a fan of Jason Seiler, whose work borders on perfection. Among the cartoonists, I deeply admire Kevin Kallaugher's command of the Pen and Ink medium and his love for detail. I also marvel at Ajit Ninan's unparalleled skill and accuracy in drawing faces and machines with minimal line-work.
What advice do you have for the aspiring artist?
SA: An artist is always an aspiring artist because all of us aspire to be better than what we were yesterday. The only advice that I have for other artists is that it's important to show your work to the world. By nature, many artists are introverts. We prefer to find ourselves a quiet little corner and draw or paint. But after long periods of loneliness, the inner-light begins to flicker and threatens to die, leaving you in the dark. So it's important to get out, show your work to the world. It starts small. My first illustration-commission was for a black and white editorial caricature-cartoon for a business magazine. It didn't pay much, but it helped me establish credibility. It got me published. Before I knew it, I was working with The American Spectator, and after my first commission with them, they asked me to do the cover-art. As it happens one thing leads to another - you get noticed by other publishers. It wouldn't have started for me had I not put my work out there. Do something. Create a blog. build a gallery. Write to publishers. And yes, be patient. Being an artist is like being a saint - it requires tons of patience.
Do you have an artist's temperament in your daily life?
I'm a bit of a nut. Not a hazelnut, or a cashew nut, or even a beautiful brown almond. I'm the nut that keeps the artist hinged and lets her come unhinged when needed. This particular nut begins to draw right after her morning tea, rushes through her household chores at a maddening speed, just so that she can be back to any of her many loves: her Cintiq, her Notes, her Canvases, her drawing-sheets – the list is long and variable. But the love that has remained by my side through the years, never changing, keeping me anchored to reality, is my family.
Do you have other passions besides drawing?
Every year in September, I'm reborn as a writer. In winters, I spend all my non-drawing time writing fiction. I've already written two novels, one novella, and a collection of short-stories. These can be found in the bottom-drawer of my desk where they stay safe, guarded by my dog, 24×7. Whether any of these will ever be published remains a matter of speculation for my family. Even though I understand the improbability of getting them published, quite like any other writer, I know that writing is the easier part – so I stick to it.... Writing and Drawing!
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