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Illustrator Taarika John On Her Portrayal Of Women And Making The Mundane Captivating

  • IWB Post
  •  March 14, 2019

When someone mentions art, one is instantly transported to the Italian Renaissance in a sprawling church covered with huge paintings by da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo. At least I am. Art is associated with luxury and grandeur and that is exactly how one would imagine the scenes depicted in them to be as well.

But visual artist and illustrator Taarika John chooses to portray the exact opposite in her drawings. She is absolutely fascinated by the ordinary and most of her illustrations depict people going about their daily, absolutely unglamorous life. The reason for that she says is, “Usually when people are sharing a moment, either with themselves or another person in public it’s like having an insight into a moment in their lives, even if you’re just passing them by seeing them from an auto. I find that quite interesting , I like that kind of a quick glance into someone else’s life and that’s what draws me to ordinary subjects.”

R.G.B #LifeInProgressKochi * * * #LifeInProgress_Chettinad #portrait #characterdesign #originalartist #sketchbook #instagood #visualsoflife #artiststudio #calledtobecreative #artofvisuals #womenwithpencils #illustrationdaily #poc #womenofindia #tamilnadu #chettinad #exploretocreate #atthangudi #vegetablemarket #passionpassport #instadaily #artistsofinstagram

591 Likes, 6 Comments – Taarika John (@taarikajohnart) on Instagram: “R.G.B #LifeInProgressKochi * * * #LifeInProgress_Chettinad #portrait #characterdesign…”

In general she tends to draw more women than men, her Instagram page is filled with illustrations of women going about their lives, sometimes shopping at the market, walking their dog or just lounging by the pool drinking Coke. She prefers portraying women because she finds them more interesting and draws from the female perspective because that’s what she knows and that’s what she likes to represent.

The daily life of women is fraught with hardships born of discrimination and those are bound to somehow leak into any depiction of a woman’s life. When asked about this, Taarika explains, “I tend to draw a lot more women because in general I find women subjects more interesting but when I’m drawing women I don’t consciously think of portraying them in a certain way. But later when someone tells me that I saw this and it made me feel a certain way then that makes me reflect on the piece. So I feel if there is something that’s resonating with the viewers then that’s just a reflection of what I was subconsciously thinking of while making the piece.”

Thirsty Featuring La Danse by Henri Matisse * * * #illustagram #illustrationgram #womenwithpencils #womenwhodraw #originalartist #calledtobecreative #emergingartist #artgram #poc #matisse #thedancers #characterdesign #southasianartist #digitalillustration #graphicart #browngirlbeauty #womenofcolor

587 Likes, 15 Comments – Taarika John (@taarikajohnart) on Instagram: “Thirsty Featuring La Danse by Henri Matisse * * * #illustagram #illustrationgram #womenwithpencils…”

Taarika draws confident, sure, and sensual women in situations that aren’t considered to be sensual. “A lot of the times when we say that women have the right to be sexual and own their sexuality, and of course we do, but there are times when I want to go all out and there are times that when you’re at home chilling in your shorts watching Netflix and that is also sensual. A woman chilling in her bra is not the end of the world, it’s something that we all do. I’ve drawn pieces where the woman is drinking coke in one and just lying on her side in the other and when I was doing those that was the kind of mood I was in. When I’m drawing women with less clothes I draw what I personally would do and I’m a shorts-at-home kind of person rather than the fancy lacy lingerie wearing type. You can portray women in their underwear and they can look sexy without always being objectified.”

The Reader 2/3 Featuring Henri Matisse’s La Danse (1909) . . . #portrait #illustrationartists #creatorsproject #womenwithpencils #southasianart #henrimatisse #ballpitmag #illustrationage #illustagram #womenwhodraw #womenwhoread #recreation

346 Likes, 1 Comments – Taarika John (@taarikajohnart) on Instagram: “The Reader 2/3 Featuring Henri Matisse’s La Danse (1909) . . . #portrait #illustrationartists…”

Apart from portrayals of daily life, Taarika loves to include paintings by her favorite artist, Henri Matisse, in her work. She loves all of his paintings, but is especially fond of his woman-centric pieces and is drawn to the way he plays with lights and patterns because these are the things she’s inspired by in her own work.

Another spread from #TheMalayaleeAlphabet colouring book! Available for sale very soon! * * * #instagood #instadaily #originalartist #calledtobecreative #visualsoflife #artofvisuals #handletteredtype #illustagram #womenwithpencils #drawingfromlife #illo #illustration #characterdesign #portrait #kerala #sketchbook #kochi #handlettering #womenwhodraw #malayalee #colouringbook #adultcolouringbook

444 Likes, 12 Comments – Taarika John (@taarikajohnart) on Instagram: “Another spread from #TheMalayaleeAlphabet colouring book! Available for sale very soon! * * *…”

Taarika has quite a few illustration series on her Instagram page @taarikajohnart but one of the most different is her children’s colouring book called ‘The Malayalee Alphabet’. It started as a poster series in 2013 and then evolved into its current form. The characters each have a back-story with a typically Malayalee attribute that people from the region would relate too.

Her illustrations, despite portraying the mundane aspects of life, are absolutely enthralling and stay with you long after you’ve closed Instagram.

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