One of the most important talents that a designer can have is observation — the ability to see the world, learn from it and adapt it to the various facets of design that she will encounter. Shreya Joshi,Retail Designer at Restore, takes us through her journey of observation, and tells us how she has always been fascinated by faces — the window to one’s soul.
The moment I learnt how to hold a pencil, I started drawing. My childhood was replete with scribbles, doodles, stick figures and those typical drawings of a box house with a slate roof, square windows and a river flowing around it. The pencil was, indeed, mightier than a sword to me, as evidenced by my experiments with newspapers: I would quietly sneak away with the day’s paper and draw contours on photos of the various celebrities and politicians that populated its pages, industriously colouring lips and drawing the usual repertory of horns, fangs, moustaches and blackened teeth to their faces, making newspaper reading a rather unexpectedly entertaining activity for my parents.
In a way, it was a manifestation of the way I saw the world, because for me it was the people who were interesting, and their faces were the windows to their soul. I studied faces to understand the people behind them, studying their structure, contours, forms, proportions. My fascination with faces grew as I did, and my sense of amazement that just one aspect of a person’s body could express so much about them.
As time passed by, my focus started shifting more towards human figures. I realised how a small, simple gesture, a flick of the pencil, a stroke of the stylus, can communicate so much. After joining a design school, I was struck by the concept of minimalism: how can I communicate a lot using just a little? This drew me back to portraits, since the very essence of a face is the idea of minimalistic communication.
And then the logical evolution: when one keeps studying faces and drawing portraits, an interesting phenomenon happens. One identifies a characteristic of the face — a nose, a hairstyle, a turn of the lip — and discovers that a simple exaggeration of a feature can make the character of the face come out so strongly. Caricature is the next level of portraits.
Since I try to capture the emotion, expression, the mood of the face, my caricature style always depends on the features of the particular face I am drawing, the mood of the subject and even my own state of mind at the time. While I try to convey what I consider the prominent expression of the face, I am still in search of a particular style that is mine, the identifies a caricature as mine.
As an artist I always want to communicate something through my art, and I have found portraits to be a great medium for my expression. For few months I was regularly travelling by local trains in Mumbai, and I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to draw people’s faces because every day I could see new and newer ones. As I kept drawing, I realised that we Indians have a specific set of features, expressions and mannerisms that kept repeating. The world, in the Mumbai local, became my oyster, and I was to be found constantly scanning the myriad faces — young, old, new and regular — that populated the lifeline of Mumbai.
As I evolve as a person and as an artist, I realise that I still externalise my expression. I observe and draw what I see; I guess it will be another process of evolution when I draw out of my imagination. All my sketchbooks are mostly filled with portraits and caricatures, mostly because I have got this obsession of knowing all the different types of features that exist in the world and since there are so many people on this earth, this obsession will never end and I hope I will be master it, at some point.
To see more of Shreya’s art, visit http://shreya-d-joshi.tumblr.com/