Inked with intent

Vishal K Bharadwaj’s themes are whimsical, often infused with a bit of dark humour. His Inktober 2020 is a continuation of characters that he explored in 2016.
Inked with intent

CHENNAI: Little did American artist Jake Parker know that a humble effort by him in 2009 to challenge his inking skills would grow into a worldwide endeavour encouraging thousands of artists to take on the challenge and make ‘ink’delible impressions on their art and followers. Vaishali Vijaykumar speaks to a few artists to find out what’s prompting them in the year of a global pandemic

Vishal K Bharadwaj
Vishal K Bharadwaj’s themes are whimsical, often infused with a bit of dark humour. His Inktober 2020 is a continuation of characters that he explored in 2016. For the first one, he revisited a random skull-faced character. Owing to COVID-19, he’s given it a spin by adding a mask. “I came across a group doing ‘no sketch’ drawings, i.e. where you only use a pen or brush, aiming for the final linework without a foundation pencil sketch, as seen in the work of master artists like Kim Jung Gi . We may not get to his level, especially in a month, but it’s fun to try and see others’ takes on similar topics,” expresses the Mumbai-based artist, who is a full-time creative consultant. He’s been freelancing for graphic design and illustration work for the last 15 years, working on a variety of projects from website design to animation, magazine design, mascots, and branding.
Instagram page: @Vishal K Bharadwaj

Roshni Raghavan
A couple of years ago, Roshni Raghavan attended a printmaking workshop at the DAM Festival at DakshinaChitra Museum. She picked up the nuances of linocut printing and has been wanting to give it a try. Inktober seemed like the perfect excuse for her to learn the craft. “Carving stamps is hard. Once you carve a piece of rubber off, you cannot undo it. After following many lino print artists on Instagram, I discovered some of them were using scrap bits of lino sheets to make mini stamps I try to be sustainable when making art. More than bigger prints, mini stamps have a lot more versatile use. You can use them to decorate cards, handwritten letters, wrapping paper, or virtually anything,” explains the social media marketing professional. Roshni has been following the official Inktober prompts by Jake Parker and also one of her favourite artists, Claudia Sahuquillo. Inktober, she believes, gives her a reason to be consistent and disciplined with art. “It has barely been a week of this year’s challenge, but I’ve already had a lot of friends showing interest in my stamps and they want to learn printmaking as well. It is very humbling and exciting at the same time,” says the city-based artist.
Instagram page: @ Fivefootart

Oliyum Oliyum Inktober
Bhargavi G, Deepika G and Sruthi G met on Twitter and started getting together on Zoom to art-jam every Sunday, since September 2020. That they live in different time zones didn’t stop them from creating a prompt list for their debut Inktober this year. “Something else that we have in common apart from art, is our love for Tamil songs. So we decided to combine the two and created a list of song-prompts. As we kept posting about the art-jam, more people wanted to join us in drawing along with us. We started #OliyumOliyumInktober to share these song prompts with everyone, one song per day,” reveals Bhargavi, a biochemical engineer living in UAE. Deepika is a data-scientist living in the US and Sruthi is pursuing her MBA in Chennai. The trio shortlisted 70 songs, initially, of which 31 made it to their final list. They’ve included different genres and music directors to ensure the songs have multiple ideas that people can pick up based on the lyrics, video, movie, concept, etc. The participants also have the freedom to choose any medium (from digital drawing to pencil sketches) for their artwork. “We are totally in awe with all the creativity on our timeline each day, on Twitter as well as Instagram. We have more than 100 participants now. Many closet artists are also finding this very relatable and posting their artworks,” she shares. Their works have been recognised by celebrities on both these social media platforms.
Instagram pages: @ Kalaipayuthey, @Opinion Pakoda, @ Curious.Cat.Art

Avanti Natarajan
A vanti Natarajan’s Instagram page transports you to a botanical garden. An architect by day and artist by night, her prompt is Botanicals. In her fourth year of the challenge, Avanti’s theme entails different elements of botanicals. Calling it ‘4weeksofbotanicals’, each week will focus on one element. The first week is all about flowers, then fruits, followed by leaves and cactus. “The twist is we have to come up with artwork within five minutes. I am using a single stroke technique to procreate for my entries. I have kept the medium open to followers. I am al so doing polaroid painting, trying dif ferent mediums and themes,” says city-based Avanti, co-founder of The Art Brew_Creative Company, and also co-founder of Lil Trails, an initiative for children and parents. It has been less than a week, and she already has 200 entries for her prompt. “Inktober gets me back on track and helps explore different mediums. It pushes me to give that commitment to art. I came up with our first product design at our fir m @theartbrewco inspired by my work from Inktober during 2015,” says an excited Avanti, who is looking forward to the Margazhi season to kick off her new art project based on the annual cultural season.
Instagram page: @ avantinatarajan

Raj Pattanam
His Fish depicts the Matsya avatar of L o rd Vishnu; Wisp indicates a woman holding a lamp; Radio shows a sari-clad woman carrying a traditional pot and a boombox radio... New York-based Raj Pattanam found inspiration in the official prompt list of Inktober 2020 by incorporating a desi feel to it. “Inktober prompt lists can be vague or broad. Coming up with ideas that fit within the parameters and also allowing one’s aesthetic sense to resonate with it is what makes it challenging yet fun,” shares Raj, an accountant. A former dance student, Raj has been drawing illustrations of Indian classical dance forms, mainly Bharatanatyam, for many years. He’s now exploring portraits in classical styles on digital mediums.
Instagram page: @Raj Pattanam

Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad
Colourful rangolis during Margazhi, fish markets by the Marina promenade, courtyard and doors of ancestral houses in Mylapore...a series of images of Madras seem to be floating about Instagram under the hashtag #MadrasInktober — thanks to artists Prathyaksha Krishna Prasad, Srishti Prabhakar and Aafreen Fathima. The idea was an offshoot from their Madras Inspired series for Madras Month in August 2020. “We wanted to make this a celebration for everyone who loves this city. We made it open to all forms of art — poems, photography, painting, ink work, etc.,” details Prathyaksha, an urban conservation architect. “My art connects the artistic aspects of the city to its rich cultural heritage. All my Inktober posts have a story, a piece of personal history or a piece of forgotten history relating to the city of Madras,” she says.
Instagram page: @projectekarikthin, @ninetyeight, @nchoredhues

Rehna Abdul Kareem
Rehna Abdul Kareem’s Grubtober is testing people’s wallet and cravings. Fish moilee, avocado toast, eclairs... her Instagram page is a happy place with droolworthy watercolour illustrations — of food. “My theme is called Grubtober because food is everything, ain’t it? Over the last two years, I have taken to cooking and I have enjoyed my time in the kitchen. That habit particularly came in handy during the lockdown. So, this year, I thought why not do a food illustration with alphabets, every day,” says the Bengaluru-based content strategist for multimedia at Amazon India. “The idea is to doodle any kind of food — aspirational food (food that you have always wanted to eat), favourite food and nostalgic food (food that tugs at a memory from your childhood). We have all been away from home for a substantial amount of time due to travel restrictions, so, I am hoping somewhere it triggers memories for people. Food is also very diverse in type, colour and texture. So, when it comes to drawing and colouring them, it poses a real challenge,” she explains.
Instagram page: @PaperPlane Doodles

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