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Janine Shroff, Illustrator

“Take on board constructive criticism”

Your artwork is very impressive and distinctive. Where did your love for drawing start?

I can’t remember the exact beginnings but I’ve always enjoyed drawing, specifically detailed stuff. In school I peeled back the notebook cover papers until the white card was exposed and covered them in cartoons. It was and is just something I find relaxing.

Tell us something about the Bird People. Where did the inspiration come from?

When I was a teen I had a small fixation with Egypt mythology and animal headed gods and with masked people. I also enjoy androgyny. Over time that developed into gendered and androgynous bird people that filtered through my work. It started with a small black and white drawing called ‘Girl talk’ which was 2 bird headed girls in individual rooms talking through a tin-can.

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Pic Courtesy : Janine Shroff

Have you undertaken any formal training for your artwork and from where?

I tried to apply to NID but didn’t make the cut, so when a recruitment drive from the University of the Arts visited Bombay my parents took me to sign up. I did a Foundation, then a B.A in illustration at Camberwell College of Arts and an M.A. in communication design at St. Martins College fo Arts & illustration in London.

Which has been your most memorable piece of art that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools that you used for the same?

Right now ‘The Queen’ & ‘Bucket Bath’ are my favourite pieces. They are quite different from each other: The Queen is a feminist horror about the cult of motherhood and the Bucket Bath is a more dream-like piece with a lot of details of deep sea creatures. They both use acrylic, feltpen, crayon, & ball-pen as mediums on heavy-weight paper.

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Pic Courtesy : Janine Shroff

You have portrayed nudity in your art in a unique way. What are the thoughts behind it?

I enjoy nudity and don’t love drawing clothes! I find drawing clothes only relevant if they mean something.

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Pic Courtesy : Janine Shroff

What is your usual workflow pattern for any project?

I usually have an idea while working on other things. I email myself ideas and notes. If I read the email after a week or so and the idea still makes sense I start drawing small thumbnails. Then I start pencilling it on a larger sheet. I use various image references for accuracy for some details or figure poses. I work in small doses after work so they can take a bit of time.

You work as a digital designer. What are the tools/software that you use regularly as a part of your work?

Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator for the most part.

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Pic Courtesy : Janine Shroff

Which projects are you currently working on?

I’m working on a large drawing about abortion and a small comic on superstition. I’m also part of a collective of south-asian women artists & illustrators called ‘Kadak’ and we will be showing our work in June at the East London Comics Festival in London (ELCAF June 10-12 in The Round Chapel, E5 0PU) Kadak is a collective of South Asian women who work with graphic storytelling of different kinds. ‘Kadak’ means strong, severe, sharp – like our tea. Kadak comprises of Aindri Chakraborty, Akhila Krishnan, Aarthi Parthasarathy, Garima Gupta, Pavithra Dikshit, Kaveri Gopalakrishnan & Mira Malhotra.  https://www.facebook.com/kadakcollective/

What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?

My advice is fairly mundane and given out often. My tutors always encouraged ambitious work and critical thinking. – that was good advice so I’ll pass it on. Draw regularly, Keep a sketch book if you can, take on board constructive criticism & challenge yourself in your work. I once read an artist advise against entering competitions because if you lost it felt very discouraging. I don’t know if that was good advice for everyone but it did help me since I find art competitions hugely depressing. I only won one competition in school and it was all downhill from there!

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