6 Artists Who Started Their Journeys On Instagram
Riding high and low on the art rainbow, these acclaimed Instagram artists talk about their work and its relevance
Thomas Merton once said that ‘Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time’. For these artists, it did much more than that. Most of them self-trained, they took a chance and featured their work on Instagram. That risk not only sling-shot them to great heights but also opened doors to many opportunities.
Sushant S Rane:
In India, there aren’t many artists who’ve focused on hyperrealism art. Sushant S Rane is one of the special few who has. Sushant dropped out Mumbai’s Ruia College and eyed the opportunity instead of the obstacle. Soon, he began to post his work on social media. In an interview, he humbly mentions, ‘I love painting. I may not be great at understanding subjects, but I understand art.’ Borrowing inspiration from common objects, Sushant makes them bounce off the canvas.
‘It all began with portrait drawings of my favourite Hollywood celebrities with graphite pencils, progressing a year later to the use of colour. I wanted to experiment with different techniques and mediums, and once I started posting my work online, it received some great response. I saw this as a chance to hone my skills, so I began concentrating on 3D forms,’ he explains.
For the last decade, Sabeena Karnik has delicately been bending paper to her will. Through ‘Paper Typography’, she sculpts strips of paper into forms and swirls to create whimsical visual elements, all elaborately detailed. Starting out with the letters of the English alphabet, Sabeena received her first creative assignment by the time she reached ‘F’. She has since created works for publishing, editorial, billboards, and covers of magazines.
“I was always fascinated with paper since studying applied art in Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. Having majored in typography, I decided to combine my love for paper with letters and create designs mixing these two passions. The technique is quilling, using strips of paper to mould and manipulate the medium for typography, using layers and vibrant colours. On completion, the artwork is eventually photographed with appropriate lighting and the image is published.”
Each piece can take from mere hours to days, but she doesn’t mind it. “In an era where everything is being done digitally, we are relying heavily on computers in art and design too. I’m trying to keep the art of creating handmade pieces of art which can be used commercially, with the hope to promote hand skills.”
Born into a small Jain diaspora in new Jersey, Chiraag Bhakta’s primarily aim is to juxtapose his Indian ancestry and American upbringing through the lenses of identity, history and popular culture. After studying at the Hartford School of Arts, San Francisco, he felt the need to experiment with South Asian visual art and thus, started working under the moniker, *PardonMyHindi.
His art begins with him collecting a range of ephemera from various times and environments to start constructing them. Drawing from his history of work as an artist, his work mediums incorporate printmaking, collage, photography, and assemblage. Through his work such as #whitepeopledoingyoga and The Arch Motel Project, Chiraag aims to critically comment on the results of the merging cultures. What has culminated is a connection between issues of representation, authenticity and cultural ownership.
Sajid Wajid Shaikh:
Sajid Wajid Shaikh is self-taught and independent artist, illustrator, creative director, art curator and graphic designer from Mumbai. His work encompasses paintings, drawings, branding identity, books, and murals and he runs his own design studio called Forty-six and Two designs.
Taking inspiration from his own emotional intelligence and music, he fuses traditional drawing and painting techniques with digital technology. His style is surreal, obscure, meta and bold which constantly challenges him. It adds a modern twist to the subject and touch of philosophy and self-expression and has attracted several national and international clients.
“I treat my work as my voice in shapes forms and colours. It’s a form of self-expression, more meta and cathartic. I think it speaks to the audience who are going through similar angst. My work indicates a departure from reality in depiction of imagery in art. This departure from accurate representation can be slight, partial, or complete. Abstraction exists along a continuum. Colour is conspicuously and deliberately altered vis-a-vis reality. An overarching message that I try to convey through my work is that there’s an endless wealth of material within one’s own self, one needs to look inwards instead of looking outwards for inspiration,” he explains.
Jasjyot Singh Hans:
Jasjyot Singh Hans is an illustrator constantly inspired by a lively mix of fashion, music and popular culture. His reverence for nostalgia and ardor for the present are what he draws his aesthetic from, conjuring dark and dreamy moods. He’s constantly delving into themes about body-positivity, self-love, queerness as well as working on experimental fashion illustrations.
After working at several prominent publishing and fashion houses, as well as advertising agencies, Jasjyot is now studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art. He debuted his autobiographical graphic novel as his thesis project, To Babes, With Love, which animates his upbringing in a Sikh family in Delhi, while still discovering his sexuality. What stands out in his portrayal is how he’s managed to shatter the façade of hypermasculinity in Indian societies.
On being asked if his queer themed graphic art has managed to make a receptive difference to the Indian reader, he says, “I’m not sure yet. But the idea is to amplify queer voices and tell our stories as honestly as we can in any form accessible. Comics and visual arts are what seem like the most natural outlet for me, so I’m just doing my part. I also hope that many more queer artists chime in and are motivated to tell their own stories!”
Hari & Deepti:
The husband-wife art duo, Harikrishnan Panicker and Deepti Nair began to experiment with paper in 2010. They gained momentum for their paper cut and backlit diorama as an enchanted and renewed medium of storytelling. Their art forms paper with depth and dimension, imaginatively.
They feel that ‘Paper is brutal in its simplicity as a medium. It demands the attention of the artist while it provides the softness they need to mould it into something beautiful. It is playful, light, colourless and colourful. It is minimal and intricate. It reflects light, creates depth and illusions in a way that it takes the artist through a journey with limitless possibilities.’