“It is necessary to be kinder to yourself. Now, more than ever.”
Aniya Varghese is an illustrator, artist and designer based in Mumbai, India. Her work was recently exhibited in INDERNET 2020 FESTIVAL representing India in Cologne Germany among the 6 Indian Inspired Creatives. Aniya also has the privilege of being a part of curated art platforms like Kulture Shop and Art & Found and magazines such as Cosmopolitan India and Creative Gaga. She describes her art-form as “Retro pop realism.”
Thank you for joining us for this interview.
Thank you for reaching out! Excited to be a part of your magazine.
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
I am Aniya Varghese, an illustrator, artist and designer based in Mumbai, India.
I’ve had the privilege of being a part of curated art platforms like Kulture Shop and Art & Found and magazines such as Cosmopolitan India and Creative Gaga. My work was recently exhibited in INDERNET 2020 FESTIVAL representing India in Cologne Germany among the 6 Indian Inspired Creatives.
Tell us about your education.
I have a degree in BA(hons) in Fashion from MITID (Pune, India) affiliated with University of Creative arts, UK and a Masters degree in Communication Design from NIFT (Mumbai).
What got you interested in arts?
I am a science student who switched to design while graduating because I realised that it was designing that truly gave me happiness.
Are you a self-taught artist or did you take any formal training?
I was self taught when I found my inclination towards designing, which is why I chose to take formal training to grow as a designer.
What is your form of art best described as?
Retro pop realism.
What are your favourite materials to use?
Earlier I loved inking and watercolors. I have recently started digital painting, and I have to admit, it’s quite addictive!
Why do you prefer illustration over other forms of art?
It’s how I started my design journey, hence it is irreplaceable.
Where do you take the inspiration for your work?
I take cues from what’s going on, current issues, or any particular character that really struck a chord with me. I generally try to merge different elements and topics to create a story.
What is your process of completing a piece from start to finish?
I generally ideate for a long time before starting any piece. I get my direction and mood in place and then combine those ideas to come up with an artwork.
How has your professional life been affected by the pandemic, the ongoing issues with coronavirus?
More than affecting me, this pandemic lockdown has helped me grow as an artist. With so much time in hand, I finally got a chance to illustrate for myself. I have adapted my creativity by experimenting with different mediums while using the current situation as the main context. Surprisingly, it has given me an overwhelming response.
What’s it like where you are?
The lockdown has been called off at the moment, but it is still not safe to step out because the numbers are increasing drastically.
What does an average day look like for you under lockdown?
Getting back to drawing, learning to cook and trying to exercise (at least 5 times a week :P). This has immensely helped me keep my mind on track.
How are you dealing with this sudden change in lifestyle?
It’s been so long now, that it feels like I’ve grown used to this life in quarantine: having an odd sleep cycle, spending time with my parents and doing things I absolutely love.
What are the important lessons you have learned during this time?
That everything is uncertain. It’s your perspective that matters in the end.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your life and/or career?
I am drawing, trying to learn and improve in terms of techniques and skills.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing?
That I miss my normal life, my friends and street food.
Did you develop any new interest or hobby or learned a new skill during this time?
I learnt cooking.
What income-producing work have you lost due to the pandemic?
I am currently working as an apparel & lifestyle designer and I was put on furlough for a month.
What’s your favourite music/songs for the moment?
I switched genres, but at the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of Lo-fi music.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation?
It is necessary to be kinder to yourself. Now, more than ever. The changes that I have made during this time is that I have started giving priority to drawing more than I ever could before. We get so caught up in work life and social life, that we often tend to forget the little things that actually bring us joy and peace. It’s the little things that matter most when it comes to mental peace and happiness, that is what I would encourage everyone to look into while being in this situation.
What 3 things could you not live without under lockdown?
Home-made food, my ipad and my phone.
What are you missing most about the outside world?
Street food, my friends and travelling.
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over?
Meeting my friends.
How do you think life will be after Covid-19?
It’s quite unpredictable to be honest. The mask is here to stay as we are headed towards “a new normal”. People in the post-pandemic world will pick themselves up and carry on. The future is scary, but we will face it, together!
Finally, your message for us at CP magazine.
To inspire more artists like me by publishing and promoting our work while building awareness.