My name is Anushkha Advani. I was born and raised in Dubai. I was lucky to have studied at a boarding school in Bangalore, in India. After graduating I moved to London to further my education in design. After 4 years of drawing, conceptualizing, creating and constructing, I graduated from London College of Communication at University of the Arts. Three years after graduating I’ve worked my way up as a freelance illustrator/ graphic designer and part owner of an illustrative concept design brand; Paperheads.
I drew and painted as a child. Once I got older I wasn’t sure what sort of a career I would have, no one in my family was a creative, and this never seemed like a stable profession. As a young adult in school, I had the opportunity to pick my subjects, and I chose Visual Arts. I didn’t feel that I was good at/ enjoyed any other subject as much. This choice impacted my life all the way through till today. Studying and creating visual art at a higher level in IB was thrilling every day - I learned to teach myself something new on the regular. This is still the most exciting aspect of my job.
It’s challenging to pin down one source of inspiration, I’ll try my best to summarise and share as many as I can. My tutors and mentors at school and university guided the path, so it’s safe to say their styles of thinking and working, along with my fellow classmates rubbed off on me. The storytelling aspect of my work developed through my time as a student, as did the sense of humour in my art. During my time in London, I studied about people with slight/partial colour blindness and this made me think about how visual art must impact people differently. This is why I chose to work predominantly in black and white. With a limited color palette came a thousand possibilities of outcomes, which I try to explore every day. My illustrative heroes are; Sameer Kulavoor, Jasjyot Singh Hans and Christoph Neimann.
I often get commission requests for custom artworks as presents for friends, and family members. Artworks for cafes, restaurants and posters for a variety of events. I also get requests for designing visuals for accessories and products. Additionally, my latest and most exciting work has been to design the brand identity for a Microbrewery.
This is a series I worked on for a patisserie in south Bombay called Gâtoh. The owner/head chef at the patisserie studied in Paris and drew most of her inspiration from the city, its food and its people. She wanted to bring her sense of style into the space using illustrative art. Hence I created a series that replicated a Parisian street, showing the locals eating Gâtoh desserts at: a pet salon, a perfumery, a florist and a bookstore. This is one of my most recent works.
Paperheads came together out of a need to term my full time freelance illustration job. After returning to my parents’ home in Dubai from university in London, I found myself creatively lost. I didn’t know where to channel my creative knowledge and energy and how to monetize my skills. I did three short internships, two at design agencies and one at a fine art charity collective.
By the end of my time at my last internship I found myself frustrated; feeling that I could invest this time in my own creative passion projects. By this time I had many strong ideas. I used social media to show my friends and family my skills and instantly began to receive requests for personalized services. This is how Paperheads began. A few months into working on custom projects, my boyfriend offered to lend Paperheads his strategic and writing skills. We experimented on printing my illustrations on a diverse range of mediums, and 4 months later we launched a collection of accessories and an online store in India. Since then, Paperheads has been retailing at concept stores around India, at craft and book fairs and at music festivals.
My family and I live in different cities, my parents live in Dubai, my boyfriend lives in Gujarat and I’m based in Bombay. We travel often to see each other and I try to use these trips as opportunities for pop-ups and to be a part of festivals. The best response Paperheads has had till date was at the Art book fair in China. I heard about this one at a book fair in Dubai, researched it and took a leap of faith. The fair was held in Shanghai, where hundreds of people lined up to buy illustrative books and accessories. Never before had I been exposed to such an enthusiastic crowd of people, who were not only interested in Paperheads content, but also could afford to buy as much as they liked.
After participating in a variety of pop ups and events, we have decided to focus our energy on long term commissioned projects, where we get to deep dive into the brief and deliver a visual design project that is immersive and wholesome.
I usually begin a brief with a strong cup of joe and a couple of hours researching outcomes to similar briefs. I try to use more than just the internet to gather information. It’s easy to replicate someone’s existing work, hence I try to draw inspiration from visual sources around me; people, sounds on the street, re-occurring patterns and themes.