OUT OF THE WOODS

Okay, I have been gone a long time. I am not sure how it happened so, then again – I think I know. Can I just say that I am really excited to be back? I have sincerely missed you too. Sorely! (I am breaking into a huge grin as I type.) How are you? How have you been? Everything good? Not bad, not good? Figuring things out?

I would hope you are well. (I am, too.)

Where do I begin?

There is not much to tell, of course, but it has been long and I feel like talking. Okay, so here is one something: I have purchased a monthly subscription to Adobe Illustrator so I can use it alongside Adobe Photoshop and it is one of the better things that I have done, this year! I have much to learn (re-learn?) but yes, finalmente. (I have developed a mild obsessive/compulsive way of thinking over the years – I could have just said Photoshop without the Adobe when I used it in the previous sentence – you would have got it, but I just could not bear to not. I would have not used the word at all, then.)

Because of which, I have drawing on there some more than otherwise, and I randomly thought of making a project/series etc. of it on my Tumblr blog. The series is called Women of My World and I am protective/proud of it. Of course, some of the women may have some ‘drawing defects’ (sorry, my beautiful women) but I do not know! These women are special to me, they were my friends when I was bored at home – feeling dejected/depressed/lonely (about two months ago). I also have been meaning to acquire more work (of the illustrative variety, etc.); usually, a few folks reach out to me every year but it would be nice if I could manage to hear of interesting projects outside of this ‘tiny pool of reach’, and pitch for more projects (not too many) etc.

Oh yes, and the title of this post. Yes, somewhat apt, I could say! I have not been hiding but I have been scuttling about in the woods… I have been looking for something, walking on an unbeaten path (Don’t you hate the way I talk or write sometimes?), and falling down deep tunnels (not as intriguing as Alice’s adventures) and feeling beaten and broken etc. – however, every now and then, I seek refuge in a cosy hollow; ferns, leaves and saplings have been growing all over the place or I bump into worker bees who want to teach me that working hard is one of the world’s oldest methods to make the brain feel good. So I am happy, in a general sense. It is the little stratosphere around me – that bit is okay. It is good. There are pollutants that infiltrate etc.; some, I have no protection against. I am not trying to control every little thing, I am making decisions on my own, and I am trying. Really hard. (I want it to hurt!)

I am hoping to make something better of myself.

I am scared, though. (Though I think immersing oneself into a body of something is good; the word itself is light, it is not coercive or forceful or persuasive – it is healing. It is letting you breathe/do/make – complete with a very faint prickle of urgency. All in good measure, to get your ‘floating situation’ in order.)

There is more to come.

P.S. This post may have been all over the place; I do not apologise for it being so. I am happy to be writing here, again! Over the last few months and weeks, I was in a mind to delete a great big chunk of my posts from long ago. They were bothering me. There was a disconnect. I did not know what to write about. Shallow and superficial were two of the words hovering in my mind’s eye, all the fucking time. I do not directly help anyone through this platform, I know this… I am not sure if that is/was the primary purpose of this blog. But I have feelings I would like to express, and some thoughts too. Lots of in-between tales, I would hope you understand that this space has its shortcomings – I can accept that. It is dear to me; I love my other children too. I hope you do not just see this as a puerile place, it would feel horrid. I want my work to have meaning (whatever I do in life, no – not just jobs, necessarily.)

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes

Jodi de Vivre

242 Jodi de Vivre

Okay, so I have been hoarding this feature (in my brain) for the longest time now, I have even forgotten when I discovered JODI – which was quite sometime before I e-mailed them back in June! Anyway, they replied to me, last month and I took ages to put this piece together. Idjit! This interview feature is similar to the ones I have covered before (on my blog, of course), but also sorta different. Same, same but different – if you will, like is the underlying theme of this label! The feature reads shorter (yes, you can smile), and without any further ado, I present to you –

When did JODI officially go live, online? Can you tell me about the name?

“We went live, last year on the 25th of July on indiacircus.com. JODI (जोड़ी) is a Hindi word, and it means ‘pair’. Because we are the two (Karuna Laungani and Gauri Verma) who started this brand, it seemed like an apt name. Also, both of us have a twin sibling. And we work best as a pair, whether it is our personal relationship with our own twin siblings or our professional relationship with each other. We think of JODI as the meeting of two ideas, two visions coming together to do something we love and are passionate about.”

A little bit about each of you, individually? I’ve been following your work, Karuna for a bit now, and I’m a fan. Gauri, from what I’ve read – you’re a graphic designer, too and I really, really like how you use colours.

KARUNA: “I started my career with ELLE (India), and was Fashion Editor there. After I quit the magazine, I continued to take up freelance projects (fashion styling). I styled Sonam Kapoor in the movies, Khoobsurat and Dolly ki Doli. I also take up a lot of work for print campaigns, and I am currently styling the ‘Gen Next’ shows for Lakmé Fashion Week.

GAURI: “I studied at NIFT (National Institute of Fashion Technology) in Delhi, and worked as a fashion stylist with ELLE (India), too. That’s where we met each other (2012). I am also a freelance graphic designer and stylist. I work with various brands styling print shoots, television commercials, etc.”

Do you come up with the designs by yourselves, or work with artisans to create patterns since the woodblock printing is undertaken by them?

We start with designing our prints since we are a brand that focuses on prints. Our aim is to steer clear from the typical motifs used in block printing. We first start by sketching out our ideas on paper. We design all our prints. We then share it with the block-maker, who makes a technical sketch of our design so that it can be transformed into a block. Following that, we work very closely with the printer and use one or various blocks to create a print. This is the fun part as we can mix and match various blocks to come up with interesting designs. The possibilities are endless. This is also something that is not possible when it comes to digital printing.

Can you tell me more about each collection? (I notice that you guys name collections after the model wearing the clothes, which is interesting… The pieces of clothing from the Azra collection form some of my favourites.)

“For our current collection, we wanted to create easy yet trendy pieces… You will see motifs like pineapples, cats and paper kites on shift dresses, culottes, pleated dresses and skirts, etc. Our collection has a mix of various silhouettes. So there is something for everyone whether you are 18 or 50 years old.”

Is there a story behind the use of patterns placed as frames for the clothing shots?

“We are a brand that loves colour, and our mood is eclectic and vibrant. We want to be unique, and stand out and be clear as with regards to our brand identity. Like we told you, prints are our forte so it makes sense that we use colour and print to bring out the vividness in the photographs. (Our visual content has been designed to show you what inspired each piece. Prints, art, music, movies, graphics – things that inspired us to create a certain piece, etc.)”

{ What are my thoughts? Well, I am drawn to their beautiful + colourful patterns and prints; also, I find the twin factor most intriguing. HOW DOES THAT EVEN HAPPEN? Of all the collections, I like AZRA – and, Azra Bhagat (the model) does the clothes justice as does the photographer who took her pictures. Those pineapple prints are everything! Them peacock patterns, too. (Out of the clothes, I really like the masculine button-down shirts, pleated skirts and throw-over jackets, etc.) Ooh, and Pune is where their production unit and studio is at, though the block printing happens in Ahmedabad and Jaipur. I think it would be an experience to accompany them on one of their travels to learn more about woodblock printing; or even perhaps, to take a tour of their production unit. (And finally! Okay, so while their cause is just, I do think the clothes are expensive; though I would like to order a JODI something at some point, perhaps at a time when I am more financially stable.) }

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes, and pictures by Anish Sarai

Prints of Persia

235 Prints of Persia

There’s something to be said of colourful, enchanting patterns… The intricate ones filled with careful details; you know, Arabesque roses, calligraphic swirls, decadent domes, minaret motifs, paisley patterns etc. For me, all of those details speak of design – and that’s what captures my fancy first. Colours, patterns (ooh, Sabyasachi Mukherjee)… I think I’ve said this, before. However, here, I am talking more of the kind that remind you of mehendi patterns or Mughal architecture, something that’s very Persian (magic carpets, anyone?) and/or such, and more specifically… Woodblock printing. (This is not an essay, do not fret!)

For a long time, I’ve been following Honestly WTF (Erica Chan Coffman and Lauren Kolodny are just so good with recreating fashion in an affordable manner through all of their D.I.Y projects, most of which focus on boxes, clothing, jewellery and such) and recently, been hooked on to this one post (of theirs) on woodblock printing (pretty self-explanatory). The outcome was so pretty (and that yummy pink) that I can’t wait to experiment with the technique on well, cotton fabrics and brown paper. Will be so cool! 

To be fair, I have tried two other of their D.I.Y projects with complete success (a braided hex nut bracelet, and quite a few bow-tie pins); and so I really hope to find some cheaper wooden stamps here in Bombay because I totally suck at bargaining, haggling, whatever… It’s like I want to go to maybe Jaipur or Rajasthan for a vacay, and pick up a box of these babies. ♥

P.S. There’s a related feature on this kind of print palooza coming up, soon! Will be talking about a very, very cool label that focuses on woodblock printing. Okay, don’t let me spill everything… You’ll find out when you find out, okay? FAREWELL, BRO.

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes, and pictures by Erica Chan Coffman

Dancing Dots

167 Dancing Dots

This pretty pair of polka-dotted shoes has been on my mind for a while, now! I first spotted them in a feature Vogue wrote covering Bipasha Basu and The Trunk Label, but this pair was launched on the website about less than a week ago (I have inside information since I work for The Home Label et al now, which is part of The Label Corp, hehe!).

Polka dots are one of those classic prints, and I can’t ever see them going out of style no matter what the fashion biggies predict (over the years). These shoes, adorably called The Betty Heels, are on my list, but I haven’t bought them yet because I can’t really wear pumps like ’em (my ankle is in recuperation mode). And um, they’re quite expensive (Rs. 2,850) so I think I will hold on to my savings for a bit. (That’s what wish lists are for!)

P.S. I have actually seen these shoes in person, and they’re even prettier! Very Jessica Day.

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Artwork by Roanna Fernandes