I’m Radha Ramachandran, a twenty-something illustrator and print designer based in Bangalore.
Being kind of an introvert, I’m generally not a person of many words (Well, except when I’ve got my talking hat on, in which case, I’ll talk your ear off).
When I’m not illustrating (either for a client or for myself) or trying to figure stuff out, I can be found surfing the internet, watching movies, listening to music, reading books, re-reading my favourite books, generally day-dreaming and bullying my four year old Labrador, Leo.
Oh, and I’m also known as ‘Ratlion’, which is the name I blog under over at ‘Ratlion’s Den’.
Why are you an Illustrator?
‘Cos most days, illustrating doesn’t really feel like ‘work’. Even if I weren’t illustrating professionally, I’d still be illustrating for myself.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
I have a Bachelors in Business Management, and a one year P.G.Diploma in Visual Communication.
When I decided to switch fields after graduation, I didn’t really have any definitive goals of becoming an illustrator. All I knew was that I wanted to pursue a career in art or design. I knew next to nothing about the industry and wasn’t sure if I even had the necessary skills to back my interest, so I opted to go in for some kind of formal training. But I would say that my illustration skills have more or less been self-taught. Most of what I know, I’ve learnt by simply ‘doing’.
You studied finance for some time. And now you do freelance illustrations. Would you tell us more about it?
I think one of my earliest answers to the ‘What are you going to be when you grow-up?’ question was ‘a Fashion Designer’. Mostly ‘cos it was the only ‘arty’ career known to my then younger self!
But coming from a background where art was encouraged as a hobby rather than a career, I got into commerce in Jr. College and ended up in an institute that stressed on academics above all else. My professors figured I had potential (I got pretty good grades. What can I say? I was a geek.) and were determined not to let me waste it. By the end of 2 years, I had an amazing mark sheet, a lesson in the benefits of hard work and a career goal of ‘Uh, maybe an MBA’.
The following three years of graduation, I studied Management, got good grades (except in finance), doodled in the finance lectures (that’s probably why), and fielded questions like ‘Why aren’t you studying Art?’.
After graduation I figured my friends had a point, and realizing that what I’d wanted all along was a career in arts, enrolled myself for a one year post graduate diploma in Visual Communication.
The rest as they say, is history!
You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
As far as style is concerned, mine is a bit eclectic. Which is why I’ve got more than one.
In the 3 years or so since I’ve been in this field, I think my style has been continuously changing or evolving and I think it will continue to change and evolve in the future too. A change in style for me is never planned or calculated, it’s just something that happens when I discover a new way of doing something or want to incorporate something I’m inspired by into my work. I don’t think I’ve found my illustrative ‘voice’ yet and in the meantime I enjoy experimenting with styles, techniques, textures & colours.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Not really. I think I pretty much lived in my own world growing up. I almost always had my nose buried in a book.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
Would the internet count as an influential personality? I think my discovery of sites like Illustration Friday and Inspire Me Thursday could definitely count as being one of my first introductions to illustration as a possible career. I started my first blog with the sole intention of participating in Illustration Friday, and all that exposure to other illustrators and their work (and realizing how much fun I was having illustrating a new concept every week) is what made me really want to give the arts field a try. I can honestly say it’s changed my life.
When did you start freelancing?
After the Vis. Comm course, I headed to Mumbai to work for a contract publisher for about 6 months. I started freelancing shortly after I returned to Bangalore. Again, it wasn’t planned or calculated. I started freelancing for my ex-employer and have been at it ever since.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
I don’t think I could ever quit illustrating. Like I said, if I weren’t doing it professionally I’d still be doing it for myself (it’s fun!). But sometimes when I’m most frustrated by a job or client, I have been known to fantasize about moving to the country (with lot’s of dogs for company) and growing organic vegetables for a living. Something like that anyway.
Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
The bulk of my work so far has been in the form of editorial illustration and childrens illustration, both of which I really enjoy. I’d love to illustrate a book for children some day.
Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
All these years on the internet, and I can count the number of Indian illustrators I’ve come across in one hand. This is definitely changing though. I like the work of Sameer Kulavoor and Gulzar Junaid, both of whom you’ve featured here. (At one point, I actually wrote to Gulzar (we have a friend in common) with a dozen questions about the field and industry in India and he was sweet enough to write back a detailed email with sound advice!)
Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Too many to count! I’m an internet junkie, which means I’m forever surfing the net for information, knowledge, inspiration etc. and over the years I’ve accumulated quite a few bookmarks.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on Illustration as a career option?
I’m a great believer in doing what you love. If you really enjoy something, you’ll figure out how to make a living out of it. So yes, if you love illustrating and have the passion to sustain you through the ups and downs, I’d say go for it.
As for advice, I’m still in a place where I’m trying to figure stuff out for myself. My career plan so far has been to take things as they come and I still have a long way to go as far as my illustration is concerned. I’d actually be happy to take advice from the more experienced illustrators out there!
Mac or PC?
PC. It’s all I’ve ever worked on (I wouldn’t know what I’m missing when it comes to a Mac!)
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Being a quasi-hermit I’d really be no good at taking anyone out for dinner!
Having said that, it might be nice to take friends and family who’re skeptical about ‘vegan-ism’ out for a nice all-vegan meal! (no, it’s not rabbit food and yes, it can taste great!)
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m currently a full-time vegetarian and part-time vegan but am definitely looking to get back to being vegan full-time!)
What’s on your iPod?
I’m one of those people who’ll fall in love with a particular song or set of songs and happily listen to it over and over in a loop till they fall in love with the next song (or set of songs). Right now one of those songs would be ‘Tu Jaane Na’ feat. Kailash Kher (love his voice).