Conversations in cartoons

Illustrator and doodler Nikkita discusses her venture, Art by Nikkita, which was born from the dark hollows of a health scare, and how she translated it into tangible artworks

Published: 21st October 2020 10:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd October 2020 02:21 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Sometimes, getting a peek into one’s artworks can be as intimate and cathartic as reading a memoir — a myriad of emotions, fleeting moments and thoughts, and events, all safely treasured in the form of visual allegories.

A city-based illustrator and doodler, Nikkita’s artworks marry empathy and design. While the vibrant pastel colours in the doodles are instant mood-lifters, some illustrations, weaved with words of affirmation and reflective designs, seem to echo the artist’s dominant mood. Having emerged from the dark hollows of a health scare, Nikkita’s works spell the pursuit of happiness.

“At the beginning of 2019, I had a health scare due to a food allergy. While we couldn’t put a finger on the root cause and the diagnosis, I continued to be on medication. That period and the medications were detrimental to my mental health — the days were dotted with mood swings, a lot of anger, s adne s s , and unhappy thoughts. Soon, I slipped into depression.

To cope, I took to art — something that I’ve been exposed to from a very young age, and began creating affirmation cards for myself,” recalls the multidisciplinary artist, who has been running her e-shop under the name ‘Art by Nikkita’ on Etsy India, an online marketplace that provides a platform for local artisans and entrepreneurs to sell products, since 2019.

Calmed by canvas
In the process, Nikkita’s artworks resonated with those around her and found several patrons too. “This made me realise that I wasn’t alone and many were going through some tough times. This pushed me to soon channelise my thoughts through art and that became my primary mode of communication and medium to calm me. Interestingly, falling back on art supplies and colours is something I’ve done from when I was as young as three years old.

I remember my mother introducing an introverted, toddler me to art — it used to keep me engrossed and engaged for hours. I went on to get professionally trained in it too. But never did I think it would become a career path,” says the graduate from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, who taps on personal experiences and her moods to create art.

After almost a decade of finding her footing in different areas of design, including graphic designing, fashion designing and UX designing (User experience design), a year ago, Nikkita returned to the basics. “While I was battling the health scare and my mental health, I was also creating art. The process was therapeutic. I even received requests from friends and acquaintances to create art pieces for them.

Incidentally, at the same time, I had a serendipitous brush with Etsy India and participated in an Etsy Collective meeting, where I got to meet fellow artists and entrepreneurs. That was the beginning of a positive journey, and ever since, I have been finding new experiences through the portal. I never thought I would take my art to an international audience but this gave me a platform to do that,” she shares.

On a new path
Earlier this year, a few weeks before the nation-wide lockdown was announced, Nikkita quit her full-time job at a corporate firm and decided to refocus on art, aesthetics and everything in between. “I was shocked when the pandemic broke out and there was a lockdown. I had quite a few plans in the pipeline, which included working out of a co-working space, sharing my artworks and building everything on the lines of my art, on the go.

But the lockdown was unexpected! But I kept going,” says the creative, who flagged a 1,000 days of art series in January to encourage the positive habit of drawing and sketching. “I began drawing every day, and saw my skills get better. I encouraged people to pick up a pencil and get artsy, I focused on issues including body positivity and mental health through art; drew skylines and recreated scenes from some of my favourite cafes; created artboards and Madras-inspired sketches, and conducted ‘draw along’ sessions and live sessions on Instagram.

Being able to teach art and conduct workshops for both children and adults was incredible and I continue to take classes even now,” says the creator, who draws inspiration from artists like Andy Warhol. In her pursuit, Nikkita has been able to spread the school of thought — that good comes out of every adversity, and soon hopes to add more relatable, simple yet quirky handmade merchandise to her already existing catalogue of pop sockets, magnets, note cards, notebooks and badges.

Finding her footing
After almost a decade of finding her footing in different areas of design including graphic designing, fashion designing and UX designing (User experience design), a year ago, Nikkita returned to the basics — drawing and doodling.

For details, visit Etsy store @ ArtbyNikkita or Instagram page @artbynikkita


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