Meet the artist behind the adorable Ghibli X Onam series that's gone viral on Instagram
Ever pictured Totoro in a mundu or Ponyo in pattupavada? For this year's Onam, artiste Treasa Maria Rajan decided to put out some wholesome content featuring beloved Studio Ghibli characters that had netizens, Ghibli fandom and Malayalis, in particular, gushing over the delightful artworks. Take a quick look at her Instagram feed and you will find Howl and Sophie, clad in traditional Kerala attires and playing in the swing, Chihiro and Haku making pookalam and here’s the best one — a Kaonashi having Onam Sadhya. The stuff of dreams!
“My sister loves the character Totoro from the Studio Ghibli movie, My Neighbour Totoro, and I wanted to make an illustration for her. Since it was Onam season I thought it would be fun to give him a cute mundu and umbrella and she loved it. I was pretty happy with how it turned out and realised I could try the same theme with other characters and that is how the series began,” says Treasa who’s been receiving praises from fellow artistes and anime fans alike.
“I am a big fan of Japanese Anime and have been watching them since childhood, but my fascination for Studio Ghibli movies is fairly recent. During the lockdown, my sister and I would watch a lot of anime at home and she introduced me to these movies and I ended up enjoying them very much. Watching my sister’s adorable reactions while obsessing over the characters made me love it even more,” says Treasa who works as a Textile and Apparel designer for an Irish company.
All of her Treasa’s illustrations are hand-drawn with no digital alterations. When asked about her preferred medium and choice of colours for this series, she says, “Since it was an Onam theme, I definitely wanted white and gold colours to be highlighted well and so I decided to sketch on brown textured papers. I used black pens, white acrylic paint, gold paint, white pen for details and a pencil to get a grey shade. Studio Ghibli artworks are usually very colourful and so using a limited colour palette gave the illustrations a very unique look.”
The Kochi-based artiste further adds, “I chose iconic scenes from each movie and then just adapted them to a festive Onam setting. This allowed me to sketch the features of each character accurately and made them easily recognizable to a Ghibli fan even with the lack of colour. Adding simple elements like traditional Kerala attire and jasmine flowers made it instantly endearing to my Malayali heart and I hoped it would resonate with others as well.”
We prod her to share some of the other ideas she wants to work with, Treasa says, “I have ended the series because the Onam season is over. But I do want to try adapting a few more characters into a Kerala setting and I hope to work on those soon. There are a few ideas that I would like to explore and I will start working on them soon. Also, I am hoping to participate in the Inktober challenge this year. It is a month-long art challenge during October where artists try to create an ink drawing daily and post it online. The Ghibli X Onam series actually felt like a practice round for that challenge since I was doing illustrations daily, which is something I normally don’t do. So being able to complete the challenge would be an achievement for me.”