Artist Anushka Kalro talks to us about her new online store and upcoming book, Dekho Magar Pyaar Se
The Bengaluru-based takes inspiration from the women in her life
Bengaluru-based Anushka Kalro is an illustrator who's work takes inspiration from the women in her life. The artist has worked on several commercial projects, as well as illustrated a coffee table book chronicling life in Basavanagudi, one of the city's oldest locales. Now Anushka has launched her own online print shop. We speak to her about the website, her upcoming book and her work:
How would you define your artistic style?
My artistic style is an amalgamation of stories and pattern. While most artists see shape, I see line first. For me, a lot of the art I make is inspired by the business and clutter around me, and is a response in line about the simplest forms my mind remembers.
Stylistically you can expect to see a lot of monochrome, a lot of line, a lot of pattern, and a lot of India. Taking the truly complex heritage of architecture, craft, jewellery, and food around me and turning it into something simpler and more relatable, is how I define my influences and style.
How did you get started in your career as an artist?
I think I was in the eight grade when I knew I wanted to pursue a creative endeavor as a grown up. I don’t remember ever not drawing and painting. I’ve been an artist and brand experience designer from a professional standpoint since I graduated from Srishti School of Art and Design in 2012. Although I feel like my relationship with art has been synonymous with my personal identity as far as my memories take me. I’ve been predominantly entrepreneurial in almost all my endeavors, and collaborated with creatives and businesses that share and value my love for Indian art and culture.
What materials do you use and what is your creative process like?
Ink on paper is the medium I am most comfortable with and intuitively gravitate to. My stationary drawers comprise charcoal, ink, so many pigment liners of different thicknesses, acrylic paint, and anything that can give me the blackest blacks. That said, I’ve learned to retain the integrity of my style digitally in the interest of delivering more commercial projects. And now a lot of the time I work with taking a physical art piece and growing it digitally, or the other way around. I’ve also learned to weave in color.
My creative process is mostly intuitive and an emotional response to something. For instance, when I draw from memory, my mind focuses on an emotion associated with that memory. It wanders to the things I saw around me in that moment, and from that, patterns are born that you can find in my work.
What have you learnt from some of your commercial projects? And how difficult is it to still maintain your voice when working on a commercial project?
Commercial projects are a lot about relinquishing control and empathising with another’s world view. In addition to being an artist, I am the founder of a creative studio that delivers brand services. Perhaps that side of my life teaches me how to disconnect at least in concept with the commercial ask. From an aesthetic standpoint, I don’t function as a commercial illustrator, and most clients come to me aware that my style of work will become the language for the story they’re trying to tell. We play with metaphors and concepts, but stylistically the integrity of my creative voice stays more or less undaunted.
What can we expect from the online print shop?
My online print shop is where I curate and deliver collector's edition and limited edition prints of some of my artworks. The Collector's Edition Prints are an exclusive print run of two prints and one artist proof print, best suited for a collector looking to expand their assemblage of art. Limited Edition Prints are a series of five to ten prints and one artist proof, specifically for young collectors beginning their journey with art.
In a few months, I plan to expand the shop to original artwork, art on found objects, and a line of ceramics.
Which are some other artists you respect and follow?
I am fascinated by the work of international artists like Kristjana Williams, Malika Favre, and Yuko Shimizu. Their work plays with line, storytelling and complexity too. A lot of the work I like is literature and photography and interior design. Bharat Sikka’s way of seeing life around him through his lens, Mancini Architects way of playing with heritage elements in a contemporary way, and Chitra Banarjee Divakaruni’s ability to transport you to a different time with her words inspire my craft deeply. Younger Indian artists I resonate with are Nirupa Rao for her deep appreciate of nature, Maanvi Kapur’s colorful expressions of everyday life, and Lubna Chowdhary’s bold deconstructions of architecture.
Tell us a little more about your book on Basavanagudi.
The book on Basavanagudi is a commissioned work co-created with Melbourne based photographer, Ravnish Gandhi. Ravnish thrives in monochrome too. We were commissioned by Bangalore based real estate developers Machani Group to celebrate moments lost in time in erstwhile Bangalore. This wordless book is on the coffee tables of those that are nostalgic for a simpler Bangalore. The flower market, encaustic tiles on the floors of MN Krishna Rao’s century old home, and the grills from the Theosophical society are some of the metaphors that found their place in my art for the book.
What can we expect from your next book, Dekho Magar Pyaar Se?
Dekho Magar Pyaar Se is a collaboration with my photographer friend Sanket Patel. The book is a collection of art and photography that compels you to ‘look, but with kindness’. We intend to weave in insightful questions that have helped us journal as artists, and hope that the book becomes a visual anthology of each person's relationship with kindness. Botanicals, architecture, people, and dreams come together in the book. One of my favorite pages is one that comes to me as a recurring dream; One where I am swimming in space, and I feel unburdened by reality. I am really excited to see the book realised later this year.