Creative Layover: New Delhi

by Lex van den Berghe

posted on 02-27-2019

We’re back with another Creative Layover, and this time we’re bringing you to New Delhi. You are about to take a tour of the city, but not on a sightseeing bus or an auto rickshaw. Let’s save the historic monuments and bustling downtown for next time. For now, come along with us as we travel through this cultural haven for Indian artists, highlighting a photographer, a photo manipulator, and an illustrator.

New Delhi, India

Against a backdrop of New Delhi’s long, monsoonal summers and dusty, crowded roads is a population teeming with people from all walks of life: from students to families, from politicians to doctors, and from business people to, of course, artists. The city’s rich culture extends back thousands of years, but time has only strengthened the New Delhi way of life. Today, you can visit hundreds of museums, shrines, temples (with several even dedicated to Indian arts), markets, historic landmarks, and government buildings throughout the city. With year-round food festivals, music festivals, and religious festivals (like Holi in the spring and Diwali in autumn), New Delhi has no shortage of tourist attractions. Let’s take a peek at just one fragment of what the city has to celebrate: the work of these local artists.

Photographer – Abbas Baig

Leaving his family in a small village in Northern India called Sankhni, Abbas Baig moved to New Delhi as a teenager. There, his parents steered him towards engineering. Following the path they laid out for him, Abbas got a degree in engineering, yet he always felt drawn to more creative pursuits. Six years ago, everything changed. Abbas switched his course and became a full-time photographer. He now holds travel photography workshops and post-processing sessions throughout India.

Morning Poem. This was a smoggy December morning in New Delhi. In winter, Siberian seagulls flock to the Yamuna River, and I was able to capture this shot of them flying overhead. While editing this photo, I increased the blacks and highlights, and I adjusted the contrast. I also applied the Burn Tool in Photoshop to make a few birds’ wings darker, and I cropped the image to decrease the negative space.

Beautiful Gangtok. I took this picture in Gangtok, one of the most beautiful cities in Northern India. It was raining when I was there, so I shot this from behind the glass of a ropeway trolley.

Flowering Yamuna. When I shot this picture on the Yamuna River, the light of the day was quite harsh. It was a beautiful composition, but the light in the frame wasn’t what I wanted, so I decided to make it black and white. First, I adjusted the contrast, then used Curves in Lightroom to highlight the upper part of the image. I imported it into Photoshop, and, using layers, I whitened the birds and darkened the water to make it more dramatic.

Abbas’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On what it means to be an artist: “For me, the number of pictures you take isn’t what makes you an artist. What’s important is your vision and your purpose.”

On editing in Lightroom: “The very first step to editing a picture is understanding the mood of your image. Once you figure out the tone of the image (or the tone you want it to be), edit your photo selectively to ensure each element is contributing to the mood you’re going for. Never apply a filter or a tool to a picture as a whole. Not every element requires the same effect or tool, so know which part of the picture you’re editing.”

Photo Manipulator – Himanshu Arya

Himanshu Arya is a self-taught concept artist and multidisciplinary creator based in New Delhi. Influenced by music and entertainment, Himanshu’s work depicts surreal images of often unearthly scenes. As a freelancer, he works with clients around the world, but in his personal work, he seeks to explore new ways to create beauty. Mirroring his editing process in which he combines many different photographs to create one image, his conceptual process draws inspiration from many different disciplines in order to tell his stories.

Soul Symphony. I don’t usually create close-up artwork, but I gave it a shot, and here we are. I really enjoyed making this piece. One of my favorite themes is space, which is present in this image. However, it also has a musical aspect to it, showing the cosmic eyes of a human and an animal connecting in harmony.

Gravity Falls. I love to play with different angles in my work. Usually, I create images as if I’m looking at the subject from afar. For this piece, I took a little inspiration from one of my favorite movies, Inception, which calls to mind unexpected perspectives. All the work is done in Photoshop, except the color grading which was done in Lightroom CC.

One Strange Prodigy. I always dreamt of creating my own little part of the universe. This image combines my fascination with space and parallel worlds. I had the idea of a floating cube over the ocean which I merged with space scenery. I liked the contrast between those two concepts, so I ended up making this prodigy (meaning something unusual) to represent the strange qualities of this made-up place. I actually have a little quatrain that goes along with this piece: I’ll take your soul to another path, To see one strange prodigy. Pay attention to this dimension, Let your brain seize an odyssey.

Himanshu’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On using keyboard shortcuts in Photoshop: “The most valuable things for me in Photoshop are the keyboard shortcuts. Here are few of them which help me in every single project:

On procrastination: “The worst enemy of this day and age is procrastination. My strong belief is that if you can do something today, just do it today. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe you could end up creating something that is of lower quality than you wanted. Then, at least you have a bit more practice under your belt and will get better next time.”

On creating with a purpose: “Build a community of like-minded individuals who want to improve in all areas of life. I think the most important aspect of life is constant self-improvement. Strive to be a better version of yourself.”

Illustrator – Sudeepti Tucker

New Delhi-based illustrator Sudeepti Tucker explores ideas of femininity and expression through her art. Creating in both analog and digital media, she opens up dialogues about roots, identity, and image. Her work is driven by the desire to understand our inner and outer worlds. A true creative, Sudeepti finds inspiration in all things: the people she knows and meets, the places she travels, the stories she hears, and everything she feels.

Amaltas. This piece was for Verve India for their June 2018 issue on the mysteries of double standards for women when it comes to fast-paced, app-based, modern dating.

Sweet Sunday. This is a painting titled “Sweet Sunday.” Isn’t it sweet?

Chokhri. This is a piece for Chokhri, an Indian feminist publication dealing with women’s sexual health and representation in popular culture. I illustrated the cover artwork for their website. I strongly feel that an open community needs to be developed to correctly inform and support women in their struggles, ambitions, explorations, and choices. While I subscribe to the global feminist movement, there are nuances which are specific to women in India that need to be talked about and approached differently. Stemming from the spirit of inclusion and support, Chokhri hopes to address these ideas, one empowered woman at a time.

Sudeepti’s tips, tricks, and parting words of advice:

On digital creation: “Photoshop is an incredibly intuitive tool for illustrators. What I enjoy most about working with it is the ease with which I can test out my ideas before moving on to a final render. The level of control brushes offer makes it possible to recreate analog textures impeccably well, and masking layers allows me to revisit various stages of the process. All in all, I save hours that could otherwise be lost to drawing and redrawing concept sketches on paper.”

On how she uses Illustrator: “I like to divide my workflow between Photoshop (for illustration/background) and Illustrator (for typography). Often, like in the case of book covers and package design, type plays a functionally important role, and Illustrator is my go-to software. I use it to explore perspective, distortion, and scale to create interesting typographic solutions that sit in harmony with the design.”

On arts’ messages: “Something I have come to feel strongly about is that, while good communication design is important, it is absolutely imperative that we start concerning ourselves with what is being communicated. The message always outlives the method/medium of its communication. We all share a common responsibility to ensure that the content we support uses the agency of design to create and implement solutions to social, political, economic, and cultural problems, as opposed to cultivating them.”

We’re glad you could join us in celebrating Abbas, Himanshu, and Sudeepti for all they create that inspires and is inspired by the city and culture of New Delhi. For more from these artists, check out their social channels below:

Abbas Baig | Instagram | Facebook

Himanshu Arya | Instagram | Behance

Sudeepti Tucker | Instagram | Behance

Not ready to hop on a plane home just yet? Visit out our last two stops highlighting artists in Melbourne and Cairo, and stay tuned for future artist highlights.

Topics: Creativity

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