Let’s Keep it Minimal
We go up close and personal with Mumbai-based graphic design artist, Shweta Malhotra who lets us in on her clean and bold take on art and the minimal ripple that sweeps across her works
With Shweta Malhotra, the Mumbai-based graphic designer / graphic artist, the first pull was her rather curious and all together immersive project Something Cool Everyday – a slice of life exposition that speaks of day to day abstractions. She began the project in 2014 when she set herself the talk of creating one graphic art piece per day. For the next 365 days, Malhotra found inspiration in, well, the everyday. From political and social nuances set in otherwise ‘normal’ contexts to references to popular culture and personal experiences, all ‘observations’ got condensed into a collection that seemed incoherent but remained interlinked with a common thread – subtlety.
In fact, within her entire oeuvre – from her branding projects for Nicobar and Limon and her collaborations with progressive, aesthetic companies like Levi’s and Vans, to her refined illustrations where she pays tribute to B.V. Doshi or prophesies the mystical – subtlety seems to be the guiding factor; the ever-present ripple that gently ebbs and flows with the minimal wave currently dominating the seas of the modern Indian graphic art scene. ‘I usually start thinking of a concept, once that’s clear I get onto the drawing board and experiment for a while till I’m stifled with the outcome. My overall visual style of work is very minimal, geometric, bold and graphic. I try to strip down a visual/element off the details, to its most basic form, yet its essence remains,’ she said over an email conversation where we spoke about her clean and bold take on art and the trends, experiences and people that influence and inspire her.
Excerpts from the interview
How did you first get started? What inspired you to dabble in the world of art and graphic design and what keeps you motivated?
I studied Commercial Art and got into Art and Graphic Design. I was always inclined to art ever since I was a child and it seemed like the right choice to study art and follow the path. I am very passionate about what I do. A lot of things inspire me and keep me motivated – travel, art, fashion, music and being amongst other creative professionals.
The very first thing I noticed in your work was the infusion of effervescent colours. You have your way around the palette. What is the pull here? Why do bright colours have such an influence in your designs?
I tend to use a set of pastel colours in general. These are just colours that I’m drawn to in general and it just comes naturally to me. You’d also see them in my everyday life from my fashion sense to my interiors; it all sort of comes together.
With quite a repertoire of collabs and branding for various companies, what do you intend to do next?
I’m hoping to design for apparels as that’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I have an inclination towards fashion and have always wanted to combine fashion and graphic design in different ways. Hoping for some collabs to come out this year and also working towards another one.
The pandemic, in all its uncertainties, has thrown up a few choice questions to the art and design world – questions that many of us are still struggling to find the answers to. How have you personally navigated this unexpected time and how do you see your practice evolving in the ‘new normal’?
I had no commercial work in the beginning of the Pandemic. I ended up doing a lot of social design work for the Pandemic for clients like Grazia, Fedrigoni and Sepoy. I was really glad to be able to help in whatever way I could through this time, which was through visual communication. That for me was something good that I could do through this time. Work slowly picked up eventually. In terms of industries I think the food and wellness industries have really picked up and I was doing a lot of work in that space the past few months.
What would you say has been your biggest achievement and through it all, what would you say has been the most important lesson you’ve learnt?
I was recently inducted as a member into the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale, an international association of graphic designers drawn from across the globe that was founded in the 1950’s. I think that’s been a great achievement for me, being amongst some of the best graphic designers in the world. I am truly honoured and thankful!
There are so many things I have learnt in these 15 years of working. One of the important lessons I’ve learnt is to work with like-minded people. That’s when the best work happens. Some of my best projects have been that way.