Poonam was born in the UK in 1988. She is a recent graduate from Hertfordshire University, and her work has been featured on The Inspiration Grid. She is now working as a freelance artist and she’s open for commissions.
Old Book Illustrations: As we can read on your site, your style is strongly influenced by Indian culture, and it could be described as lavishly ornamental, making use of a mix of geometrical and organic patterns that often fill most of the space. Figures are depicted with decorative lines, and it is usually impossible to dissociate the main motif from its ornamentation, as the two are so closely entwined. These traits are not uncommon in the field of applied arts, and you mention fabrics as another influence, while your wooden pieces seem to point to the more crafty aspect of art. Is this all just a coincidence, or do you feel an actual and particular inclination for arts and crafts?
Poonam Mistry – It’s definitely something I try to do intentionally. I take a lot of inspiration from arts and crafts. I adore hand made things. I guess it’s to do with the craftsmanship and the quality of handmade items that fascinates me. Even though advances in computer technologies have allowed art to progress in so many ways it just doesn’t have that quality that a beautiful crafted item has. It shows real skill. Although saying this I do use Photoshop in my creative process, however my work is predominately drawn by hand and especially with the wood work that allowed me to show this. I try to take inspiration from other art forms such as sculpture and applied art rather than illustration just because I find it more interesting.
OBI: In your narrative pieces, like you work for Alice, or the intriguing Stainglass series, you seem to adjust your style with great ease and versatility to the constraints of following a story. Was it as easy as it looks, or was there a lot of trial and error, and discarded sketches?
P. M. – There were a lot of sketches that were discarded. With Alice I found it quite easy to illustrate the story because it was so unusual. A lot of the images that I chose to illustrate were parts of the story that I had strong visual ideas for, such as the Mad Hatter’s tea party. The stain glass was slightly more difficult. I think I tried to challenge myself with that particular narrative and create something different. It was based on The Frog Prince fairy tale. A lot of ideas were scrapped with that project.
OBI: Your use of color varies greatly from one piece to the next: sometimes there will be very few, warm and subdued colors, whose purpose seems to be mostly to ensure the clarity of the lines, and to create a subtle harmony. Some other times, you make use of a wider, more contrasting palette, where colors are granted a more decorative and expressive quality. And there are
those brighter pieces, with lighter and more saturated colors. What makes you choose this or that type of color scheme? Is it the nature of the image? Its purpose?
P. M. – It more or less depends on the subject matter and the complexity of the image. Sometimes while I’m drawing a piece the colours naturally come to me because I can visualise the final outcome. A good example of this is my Kingfisher illustration. It seems to just fit. In other cases, most of these being the larger illustrations, it’s just a case of playing around with colour till it looks the way I want it to or has the right atmosphere I’m trying to capture. I try to vary my palette as I get bored quite easily if I use the same colours continuously. Also, with my commercial work I try to keep the palette simple because sometimes adding too many colours can over complicate an image especially if there is a lot of detail. Personally I like to use warmer shades of colour and a more varied palette as I feel it adds another dimension to my work. The lines and patterns in some of my pieces are so intricate it does take me a while before the right balance of colour is achieved.
OBI: Wood engraving and porcelain are among the other techniques that have caught your interest: have you begun exploring them yet, and if so, what are your feelings about them? And more generally, are you experimenting in the hope to find the technique that will feel right for you, or are you just eager to feed your artistic personality with these various experiences, and give yourself as many choices as possible when starting a new project?
P. M. – Yes I have but just with the wood at the moment. I love to try and experiment with new ways I can apply my illustrations. Wood was something I tried and found both enjoyable and exciting. At the moment I’m just etching and carving though I would love to try painting and screen printing onto it. Possibly even make wooden toys. I’d also love to try working in glass. I can really see that being something I try in the future. Even stain glass. I’m working on a couple of designs for porcelain too but it’s at the early stages yet. I guess I don’t want to be an artist that just creates art on paper. 3D work and different media gives you a fresh insight into new ways of working which using paper or a computer screen doesn’t let you do.
All the pictures included in this article are copyrighted to Poonam Mistry.
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