When life occurs, it goes on till a 70 with the job being a common denominator for all of us. In the midst of this phenomenon called life, it is our responsibility to be the changemakers. This is what Aakriti Kohli, a graphic designer by profession did during her days of lockdown. Her page ShesAnIllustrator is the not-so-loud verbal anecdote of her and every woman’s innermost voice. Aakriti, who wears her passions on her nose ring and paints her thoughts on the canvas of her life, motivates every human being to change, untangle, liberate, loose, survive, heal, grow, find, harmonize, believe, flow, move and be. Here are the excerpts of my conversation with her:
What is the story behind ShesAnIllustrator coming into existence?
I have been a professional artist for the last 7 years. I have worked with several agencies and brands. I never ever worked on a project so personal, but it was my intention always. Life was quite busy with work and other thingummies that I never got the stimulus to start something which would be an expression of me. Then few months into the lockdown and I became overwhelmed with the fact that I could not travel anymore (I love traveling!). Forget travel, the mere fact that going out was barred and meeting friends became prohibited made me search for the one thing that was missing.
All the few past experiences and problems that I had struggled with piled up in front of me. Then I knew that I wanted all these emotions that I have endured to be expressed in the form of art. I have a strong belief that art has the power to express when words fall short. As human beings and the storehouse of all these emotions, sometimes we choose to express them, and sometimes we don’t. People are situationally hesitant to listen to their own voices due to inward and outward pressures. I wanted to be a motivation for them while definitely voicing and expressing myself through my first ever series called BeingMe. And so came into existence my page ShesAnIllustrator.
Why are your graphics centered only around femininity?
As I said previously, I have had my struggles of being a woman. And every woman at some point has succumbed to these struggles which have been forcefully added to the not-so-easy lives of women. These experiences are where we are told that as a woman we cannot do this or we cannot say that. And that has always bothered me. Why are we not supposed to do something which is a way of life or a livelihood for the other gender? If something is wrong and unacceptable, then it’s practice must be wrong for all and not just one specific gender. Although, these gender biases and prejudices have hardly bothered me but this privilege of mine didn’t stop me from becoming a voice for my women. Most would find this attention-seeking artwork and I would reiterate that it is indeed seeking your attention to divert yourself to the sufferings and compromises of women. The patriarchy puts men behind the farce of gender-defined roles as well. All these unanswered questions and the curiosity of finding a valid reason behind these inequalities made me choose femininity as my desired subject.
How do the graphics on your art page communicate your inner turmoil- or as I should the inner turmoil of every woman?
The primordial problem that lies here is that we often accept things as they are without ever questioning what should be. I would say my graphics are rather an overflow of the unspoken and unwritten emotions that emerged out of these pressures and turmoil. The principle of listening to your own self and your inner voice is equivalent to Yoga. Even if you fail somewhere, you will have the satisfaction that you heard yourself before anyone.
Your captions are often verbs that are emancipating. How did the idea of using verbs as captions hit you?
This idea is driven by two factors. Firstly, professionally, it is my responsibility to find concepts and meaning in everything around me. Secondly, I wanted my captions to be as powerful, clear, and understandable by my audience as I wanted the thought behind my art to be. It precisely defined my mood and/or emotion and it just happened. I wanted people to relate to it. I wanted them to read the caption and suddenly feel an usher in emotions that some of them might be ignoring. I wanted to make a strong connection with my audience by inspiring them. And what is a better way than using verbs? 🙂
Very well put! Have you ever faced backlashes or criticisms on your IG page? If yes, then in what ways?
I wouldn’t say criticisms, but I have had queries and questions directed at the kind of clothes that my female characters wore. I felt this was my responsibility to educate them about the noun called ‘Choice’. On a happier note, I have received amazing responses for my work. People have been appreciative and have also motivated me to do more of what I do.
Do you sell your digital prints anywhere? if yes, then where can we find them?
Yes, my digital prints are available through my dm on Instagram @shesanillustrator
Which graphic artists or digital illustrators do you look up to or fangirl over?
Malika Favre! I love her work, her digital color palette, the play of light and shadow, the finesse and style! She is an artist on fleek for me!😍😍😍
What does feminism mean to you?
Feminism has always been about equal rights & opportunities for all the sexes in all aspects. Similarly, the same rules and boundaries must be laid for all the sexes. Unfairness in terms of opportunities and boundaries when it comes to women is what feminism fights for. Not just equality, but equity in everything is what feminism stands for for me.
Do your graphics send out the same message? If yes, then how have you been able to educate your followers?
Yes, I have felt that I did encourage them to listen to their inner voice and make choices for themselves. The belief in themselves, embracing the darkness to make way for light, and not giving in to the pressures of society will help you accept yourself which is the most important foundation of life. It makes you independent, confident, and a fighter. It is only after you believe in yourself that you can change the world one step at a time. I feel this is the need of the hour and my art speaks loudly of it.
What is your message to the budding artists in a similar industry?
I would say keep creating for you have the superpower to connect people with people by motivating, inspiring, educating, influencing, impacting, and changing the world.
What is your favorite artwork of yours? I know it is like selecting between your own babies, but if you were to choose, which one will you choose and why?
Now that’s difficult (ponders). I have put in a lot of effort and thought into each of my pieces. They’re all my favorite! To choose one I would say the 8th strip ‘Finding’ of my 12 series post BeingMe could earn some brownie points. This is because, only after I ‘found’ back my lost flower, or literally my passion, ShesAnIllustrator came into existence.
What new things are you planning to experiment with, in the near future?
I have more things lined up, a few topics such as culture, travel, and positivity I have been working on. And for that you may want to keep an eye on my page ShesAnIllustrator!