September 3, 2014

Sketchnotes: Reshal Shah

By Anusha Narayanan

A recent graduate of the Masters in Design programme from Industrial Design Centre, IIT Mumbai, Reshal Shah illustrates for books and aspires to collaborate with reputed publishers for storybook illustrations. When you don’t find her daydreaming, she is usually working slowly towards creating her designs out of the million random thoughts that whiz past her mind. Reshal was an introvert as a child and her sketchbook was one of the few friends she would open up to, giving her the comfort of having her own space since young. Writing little notes to herself on her observations of the world around her, she transformed these visuals into sketches in her diary.Indian Wedding 1

Indian Wedding 2


Soon these dialogues she would have with herself became stories. She named her sketchbook the Window Seat, capturing the beauty of everything she saw around her. “Being an avid bird-watcher and a nature lover, the subtle songs and whispered tales with collages of magical hues find their place in my sketchbook that I lovingly call the Window Seat.” She put together a series called The Speaking Image, which highlights a recurring theme that she had grown quite fond of – the urbanscapes of Mumbai. Explaining the series, Reshal says, “[these are] little patches of the city that I have loved passionately. There is unexpectedness and restlessness in the city of Mumbai. There are innumerable life experiences that make the city real; happiness and sorrow, energy and fatigue, poverty and plenty – Mumbai is full of contradictions. My works reflect some of these contradictions.”

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Reshal experiments with different materials – from backgrounds created with collages of Ruskin Bond’s writings to photography, dry pastels, pen & ink; sometimes even eccentric choices such as an eyebrow pencil, painting with tea water and waterproof inks. She is inspired by Van Gogh, Haiku poetry and Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Add to this her Indian influences such as traditional Pichwai and Mithila paintings and this sums up her appetite for art. Working closely with contemporary Indian artist Sudhir Patwardhan had a huge impact on her work changing the way she connected with her creations. Absorbing the experiences of her mentors and guides along the way helped her grow as a thinker and a designer.

She is more of a traditional artist using the computer only for collages, to merge and modify her handmade artwork digitally. Being a visual artist and designer, her mind is flooded with a mix of traditional Indian and Western art and poetry. And she hopes that these musings will flow on to the pages of books one day.

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