Pineapple on Pizza, yes or yes?
A final year student at National Institute of Design, illustrator and animator Deepti Sharma has carved out a niche of her own. Ever since she was a child, Deepti would conjure stories, mostly as conversations with herself, coupling the words with illustrations. Today, she fills her sketchbooks with spindly-armed characters caught in the most mundane acts like buying milk at a supermarket or eating pizza in bed.
Her love for music reflects in the animated videos and album artworks, which are inspired by the depth of human emotions, the fragility of relationships and the quiet beauty of dancing by yourself. The simplest of things become the strongest driving force for her craft.
As she connects with us from Ahmedabad, Deepti lets us in on her experience creating art for some of the most exciting names in the indie music industry and her growing romance with animation.
(Left) Taar, an illustration of Deepti's friend, Taarini Ravjit; (Right) An illustrated interpretation of an album art by the band Del Sur
How did your years growing up shape your ideas about art and creativity? Did your family have a role to play?
My mother tells me I've always been a storyteller. When I was three, I would pretend to be characters from my favourite stories, announce to my family that I am Goldilocks or Rapunzel for the day, and only respond to that name. My father constantly invented new stories and characters for my sister and I, which inspired me to write my own stories and draw scenes from them. My parents encouraged reading; as a child I’d be lost in Tinkle digests, Amar Chitra Katha and every Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Dav Pilkey book I could get my hands on. These stories and animated TV shows like Gravity Falls, The Jungle Book and Avatar: The Last Airbender influenced me a lot. From a very young age, I maintained a diary where I sketched comics and illustrations about my day. I still record my life and experiences in my sketchbook in notes and doodles.
(Left) Sk8ergurl; (Right) Gurliez
Over the course of a few films, you've explored hand-drawn 2D animation and stop motion. As a young artist, what about the medium pulled you in?
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I began animating in college and I have been lucky to collaborate with a bunch of talented classmates on a few films. Taarini Ravjit and I worked on Dinner at Eight, which was a stop motion film. It was really fun to work with clay, get our hands dirty and watch our creations come to life. Being alone is not necessarily being lonely and the short film celebrates being comfortable and happy in your own company.
Working on Umbra, a hand-drawn 2D animation film that follows a girl’s encounter with a shadow monster was also a huge learning experience.
The best part about animation is watching my drawings (or puppets) come alive. I find it magical how a scribble I made in my sketchbook can move and become something else altogether. Animation is an incredibly powerful medium to tell stories, and while it can weave imaginative worlds, it is also capable of dealing with serious subjects in ways live action cannot.
Umbra, a hand-drawn 2D animated film created by Deepti Sharma, Taarini Ravjit and Saket Ghaisas
You've slowly begun to develop an illustrative style. Is this something you want to stick to or are you yet to arrive at a distinct visual language?
I feel that my illustrative style is still evolving. A lot of what I draw is inspired by my daily experiences and from the way I perceive the world around me. I am also influenced by music, books and comics I read, and films and TV shows I watch. Drawing with other people helps too, as does changing my medium. I think the key to arrive at a style I can call my own is to keep exploring and not give in to a particular sensibility too soon.
Indie music is an unstoppered source of inspiration for you. How has your relationship with sound sculpted your passion for art?
Music has always been there, often just playing in the background, setting a mood for me to draw. It is an inspirational starting point for visual ideas and the various moods inadvertently seep into my artwork. Some of my favourite projects were centred around creating visual art for music. I created an artwork for Protyay Chakraborty’s single Ephemera, the music video for Everybody Dances to Techno by Dot, and now, my graduation project is also an animated music video for The F16s. With music videos, the sound heavily informs the visual narrative, lending meaning to every element used in the artwork. I am not a musician myself but find an outlet for my love for music in the art I create.
What inspired the music video for Everybody Dances To Techno by Dot? It was a departure from your visual aesthetic with towering giraffes, space invaders and blooming roses forming a swirling universe. Was it your first attempt at animating collage artworks?
I got the opportunity to work on the music video for Everybody Dances to Techno by Dot while I was interning at Trip Creative Services under the guidance of Prateek Sethi. I really like her music and was thrilled to be a part of the project. I had been interested in collage animation and had wanted to experiment with it for a long time. Prateek, who directed the project, was extremely encouraging and let me play with the visual style of the video. We spoke to Aditi about what the song meant to her and looked at dancing as an escapism of sorts. We felt that it would be fitting to create a magical universe she could escape into. Collage seemed like the perfect medium to visualise a whimsical world.
Everybody Dances To Techno, a collage music video animated by Deepti and directed by Prateek Sethi of Trip Creative
As a part of the DFLR program, you developed a set of prints for a Taxi Fabric X Asian Paints collaboration. How did you turn a thematic idea into tangible art? Take me through the creative process.
DFLR was a brilliant opportunity to get while still being a student - to understand how to work on a client brief with constraints and still remain true to your voice as a designer. The prints I worked on were based on the idea of how in today’s world being ‘busy’ is wrongly perceived as being ‘cool’, and overworking yourself has been glorified. I developed thumbnail artworks, trying to capture the vicious circle we are all entwined in where the boundaries between work and leisure blur, taking visual inspiration from contemporary workspaces and using elements like grids, traps and to-do list check boxes. The motifs I developed were then arranged in patterns. Working with my art director, Madhuvanthi Senthilkumar, was also a steep learning curve because she constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone, encouraging me to try new things.
Deepti's textile prints for Taxi Fabric's collaboration with Asian Paints
What are you currently working on?
I am working on my graduation project, which is an animated music video for The F16s. I have always loved their music. They have an EP called Wknd Frnds coming out soon, and were excited to have me on board. It is their first animated music video and my first time working on an animation project of this scale. Although it is a hand-drawn 2D animation, the visual style is completely different from my previous projects which makes it exciting and challenging at the same time.
Deepti Sharma was selected to be a part of the Design Fabric Low-Res (DFLR) Student Program, aimed to discover the best young creative talent in the country and give them an opportunity to work on commercial briefs.