Most Unique Indian Female Illustrators Who Breath Life into Art

Women frequently serve as the inspiration for or the subject of fine art. However, the women who have contributed to the history of art go beyond its formal composition. While some of them utilised their artwork to achieve recognition, others used to the art's eccentricity as a weapon against their oppressors.

Bold hues, firm strokes and quirky designs—this is what catches the eye in the works of India’s contemporary women illustrators. From selfie-taking gods to lungi-clad cats, women stuck in long beards and crown-donning skeletons, their art is a reflection of their unabashed, unapologetic and uncanny spirit. An exploration of the female form and identity is a common thread that binds most of these works. But, what makes each of them unique is their distinctive style of using wit and wisdom in equal measure. The eclectic repertoire of this new wave of artists opens a window into an entire generation brimming with fresh, witty, audacious and irreverent creativity. So, here’s a list of 12 women contemporary illustrators (in no particular order) whose works you need to follow:

Prabha Mallya

An illustrator and writer, Prabha Mallya’s world is dominated by animals and birds with strong personalities. Not surprising then that her first book was a collection of illustrated collective nouns for children titled The Alphabet of Animals and Birds, which went on to win The Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award 2016 for Best Picture Book. Mallya was recently commissioned by The Guardian as one among 10 artists who created a series of illustrations reinventing Rudyard Kipling’s classic, The Jungle Book. Her depiction of Raksha, the mother wolf, defending Mowgli from the cruel Shere Khan, was done “directly in ink” to echo the intensity and fury the scene demanded.

Neha Doddles

A.k.a. Neha Sharma Neha Doodles is a self-employed cartoonist, artist, and developer of lifestyle content who is color-obsessed. She spent thousands of rupees attempting to become a Chartered Accountant before realising that wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. BUT DRAWING WAS. Her current online comics and artwork focus on the therapeutic benefits of art. She also creates wacky doodles and traditional Indian cartoons with a dash of irony.

Alicia Souza

A "happiness illustrator," Alicia Souza is known for her sketches of cheerful events, humorous discussions, and observations from everyday life. Since then, she has added it to her title because "commercial illustration" seemed like a chore. She has been a professional artist for more than ten years and has hundreds of goods made from her designs.

Himanshi Parmar

A student of communication design from Pune, Himanshi Parmar confesses that she was “one of those kids who drew on every possible surface”. Inspired by the people she meets and the places she travels to, her work deals with the recurring themes of discovering the self, exploring societal restrictions or sometimes just the art of being.

Adrita Das

The creator of the much-celebrated Gods Taking Selfie series, Adrita Das is a 24-year-old graduate of Srishti School Of Art, Design and Technology. Das’s works are marked by a good dose of dark humour, be it her series called The Ramayan Bro Code or her ongoing series Everyday People. Inspired by artists Mario Miranda and Jon Burgerman, she has etched out a unique style of her own by employing smart parody to draw attention to deeper issues.

Nimisha Bhanot

This Indo-Canadian contemporary artist created a lot of buzz with her series titled Badass Indian Pinups recently. A spin on classic American pinup paintings, Bhanot’s works show women who are outwardly Indian, decked in gold and hands painted with henna, but sexually liberated and posing in ways that would be looked down upon in our patriarchal society. It is a clever critique on the roles that women are expected to be playing in a patriarchy. While Bhanot’s subjects are all following tradition by keeping the Karva Chauth fast or ironing their husband’s shirt, their confident outward gaze, right at the audience, conveys an entirely different story.

 Pranita Kocharekar

It is possible that you may have stumbled upon Mumbai-based graphic designer and illustrator Pranita Kocharekar’s light-hearted take on anxiety, a series of 16 illustrations titled ‘Is That You’? She was also a part of the city-wide Taxi Fabric art project, which transformed seat covers of Mumbai cabs into canvases with doodles and illustrations. Kocharekar’s work strikes a beautiful balance of being bold in its thought, yet feminine in its execution. Her ongoing ‘doodle a day’ project has also garnered many social media followers.

Contemporary women illustrators from India use vibrant colours, forceful strokes, and unique designs to draw the viewer in. Their artwork, which includes selfie-taking gods, cats wearing lungis, people impaled in lengthy beards, and skeletons wearing crowns, is a representation of their uninhibited, unapologetic, and unsettling character. The majority of these pieces share an investigation of the feminine body and identity. However, what distinguishes each of them from the others is the way they each use wit and knowledge in equal proportion. The diverse catalogue of this new generation of artists provides a glimpse into a generation filled with original, clever, adventurous, and irreverent talent. So, here is a list of 10 female contemporary illustrators whose works you should check out.

Prabha Mallya

Animals and birds with strong personalities rule Prabha Mallya's universe as an illustrator and author. The Alphabet of Animals and Birds, a collection of illustrated collective nouns for kids, was her debut book, and it should come as no surprise that it went on to win the 2016 Hindu Young World-Goodbooks Award for Best Picture Book. Mallya was recently chosen by The Guardian as one of ten artists to create a series of images that reimagined the beloved novel The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. She "directly inked" her portrayal of Raksha, the mother wolf, guarding Mowgli from the vicious Shere Khan in order to capture the ferocity and intensity the action required.

Himanshi Parmar

 

 

Himanshi Parmar, a communication design student from Pune, admits she was "one of those youngsters that drew on every imaginable surface." Her work frequently explores themes of self-discovery, societal constraints, or sometimes just the art of being, and is inspired by the people she encounters and the locations she visits.

Adrita Das

Adrita Das, a 24-year-old alumnus of Srishti School Of Art, Design, and Technology, is the author of the well-known Gods Taking Selfie series. Whether it's her current series Everyday People or her serial The Ramayan Bro Code, Das's works are distinguished by a healthy dosage of dark humour.She has carved out an own style for herself, drawing on the works of Mario Miranda and Jon Burgerman as well as using clever parody to highlight more significant themes.

Nimisha Bhanot

This contemporary Indian-Canadian artist recently generated a lot of interest with her Badass Indian Pinups series. Bhanot's works, which are a twist on traditional American pinup paintings, feature women who are visibly Indian, decked out in gold, and sporting henna-painted hands, but who are also sexually liberated and posing in ways that are frowned upon in our patriarchal culture. It is an insightful criticism of the roles that women are supposed to play in a patriarchal society. Bhanot's subjects all adhere to tradition, whether it be by keeping the Karva Chauth fast or pressing their husband's shirt, yet their assured outward gaze—aimed directly at the audience—tells a very different tale.

Pranita Kocharekar

Pranita Kocharekar, a graphic designer and illustrator based in Mumbai, created a series of 16 illustrations titled "Is That You" that take a humorous approach to worry. She also took part in the city-wide Taxi Fabric art initiative, which turned the seat covers of Mumbai taxis into canvases decorated with sketches and artwork. The art of Kocharekar strikes a lovely mix between being aggressive in conception and feminine in execution. She also has a lot of social media followers thanks to her continuous "doodle a day" initiative.

Rae Zachariah

The artwork of Bangalore-based illustrator Rae Zachariah is vibrant, emotive, and filled with passion. Zachariah's art is guaranteed to make you smile, whether it's her mixed-media graphics for the online magazine Kindle or her collection of illustrations depicting sexist old advertisements. She is known for being the illustrator of the widely circulated "Headbanging Modi" artwork that graced the cover of Kindle magazine.

Limatola Longkumer

Artist from Nagaland. When Limatola Longkumer was in kindergarten, her mother taught her the fundamentals of art. Longkumer has a unique style and has been praised as one of the most promising modern artists. Her primary motifs are people, primarily ladies, leaves, and fruits, with which she plays, almost always without colour, to painstakingly construct a pattern of yearning, tranquilly, and meditation. Despite being relatively fresh to the realm of illustrations, her work belies this.

Kaveri Gopalakrishnan

This NID graduate is a comics creator and illustrator. Strong topic, while also being humorous and lighthearted, drives her writing. She is a member of the South Asian collective Kadak of female graphic storytellers, one of the first in-house designers for the wacky lifestyle company Chumbak, and her work debuted at this year's East London Comic Arts Festival.

Barkha Lohia

Abstract artworks by Gurgaon-based Barkha Lohia centre on femininity, flora, and fauna. Despite using only a few colours, Lohia's artwork is unpolished yet serene and passionate. It depicts ladies who have been constrained by life and its losses yet have come back in full bloom. Without using too many motifs or colours, her artwork conveys optimism and hope.

Pranisha Shreshta

Pranisha Shreshta's illustrations take you inside the small elements of the everyday, whether it's a messy desk, casually dangling bangs, clothes haphazardly tossed on a dorm room bed, or a man pausing to consider his order at a fast food counter. Her meticulously detailed drawings occasionally take an interesting turn toward audience participation, giving the observer a brief glimpse into the artist's sketchbook and the early stages of the development of a piece. Her doodles show the world, life, and people as they actually are.