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[ITW] Illustrator Samji creates a highly colorful universe where a rocket can launch a thousand dreams 01-05-2021 | 7 minutes
We talk to Samji, an ArianeGroup illustrator who hails from India and who tells us that his universe is a magical place.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what led you to become an illustrator?
I come from Kerala, India. What led me to become an illustrator is the understanding that you can make a living doing what you love and what you are passionate about. I began my venture into the creative field through animation. It was not particularly a successful stint. I went on to try freelance graphic designing but it really wasn’t my cup of tea either. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to switch to illustrating after a while.
From your perspective in India, what does the European space company ArianeGroup mean to you and how did you approach this commission to design for our products?
I think one of the perks of working as a freelancer is that I get to work with people around the world, including Europe. But the aerospace industry is an entirely new avenue in my illustration career. It gave me a good opportunity to come out of my comfort zone and stretch my limits.
Specifically, what does space mean to you and how did you translate that into your illustrations?
This is a really interesting question, and I am not sure if I can do justice to it. When I think about space, it opens up this world of infinite possibilities. But at the same time, the vastness of space humbles you. Like Carl Sagan says, we are just a speck floating in this vast universe. I’m a night owl and the starry sky has always instilled a sense of magic and inspiration in me.
Your work refers to pop-culture and animation but also has a futuristic touch to it; what inspires your style?
At one point, I only worked with muted colors. I used to believe that only a realistic approach to illustration had an aesthetic beauty. But my naive thought process evolved over time and so did my style. I wanted to push my limits and try out vibrant colors. It is an ever-evolving process and maybe in five years from now, I could be drawing in a completely different style.
Your work is rich in colors – would you say your Indian roots have something to do with it? How important is color to your drawings?
I wouldn’t say that my Indian roots have anything to do with it consciously. Red and green were the colors that influenced me as a child, in my surroundings. I very rarely use them today though.
It was mostly me trying to come out of my comfort zone and I think that vibrancy was the end-product of that attempt.
I believe the right color combos can really bring to life even the most boring and simple illustration. Along with colors, lighting too plays an important role in making and breaking illustrations.
You like creating illustrations with human figures, but one of your illustrations for ArianeGroup is people-free. Was it a challenge for you to give a soul to your art without anyone to embody it?
I was surprised when ArianeGroup reached out to me with this commission. Because my feed is filled with human elements, most of the enquiries that come my way are centered around human elements.
Whenever I get a new illustration commission, I mostly work towards how to bring out the right emotion from the character and set my mood board around it in the pre-production stage.
For the ArianeGroup illustration, because we were working on aerospace elements, there was a departure from my usual habit. This was a breath of fresh air from my usual pre-production setting.
For the ArianeGroup shop you created an illustration with a fairy-like lady watching a rocket launch. Can you tell us more about this illustration? What’s the story you telling?
When I think of space and humanity’s space conquest endeavor, it instils a child-like wonder in me. We are exploring something completely unknown and beyond our control. So every rocket launch gives me the feeling that we are doing something ‘for the greater good’, something that is above and beyond our everyday life.
Watching a rocket blasting off is a magical but humbling experience.
This was the idea that I wanted to project in the figure of that twirling lady, showcasing the emotions I felt.
Take a look at our ArianeGroup shop.
If you are intrigued by Samji and his work, go to his Instagram page to see more of his work (@samji_illustrator).