Shikha Nambiar, an illustrator who got noticed for her 100 sketches of Bangalore’s iconic buildings, food, structures and more that reflect the vibe of the city shares with Mums and stories her journey of beginning ‘Sunny Eyes, Starry Skies. She also talks on how important it is for loved ones including parents to be of a strong support when grown up children are allowed to pursue their dreams and deviate from chosen education or professions.
Shikha shares, ” My dad was in the Indian Air Force, so I’ve spent my childhood all over India – Pune, Ambala and Chennai. I moved to Bangalore only 5 years back. I have great memories from all our travels. I think I caught the travel bug early on thanks to dad. Living in different parts of the country, meeting and interacting with people from various cultures, shaped my thinking and gave me different perspectives on life and people.
I completed my schooling from Sahyadri School, Pune, affiliated to the Krishnamurti Foundation of India. The KFI culture, coupled with the freedom to explore, helped enhance my aesthetic sense and creative abilities. I also had the good fortune of interacting with many talented art teachers, some of whom came from Shantiniketan. (I recently visited the place and fell completely in love with it) They encouraged me to think beyond the boundaries of the usual, to use art as an expression of the self and to look for inspiration in every little aspect of life. It was during this time at Sahyadri that I developed a deep and keen interest in art.
I really appreciate the concept of a ‘gap year’. I think it is quite unrealistic for a child to know exactly what they want to pursue when they finish school. Most kids are not even aware of the innumerable career options out there today. School should in fact ensure that children are exposed to and get to interact with professionals/experts from different fields. Also, internships can really help them get an idea about a career so that they make an informed choice. Also, these days it is much easier to switch careers, so that’s a big advantage.
When I finished my diploma in visual communication, I realized that making logos, branding etc did not excite me as much as illustration. I just loved to draw and so I decided to become a full-time illustrator, though I still do a few graphic design projects from time to time. I carefully choose projects that interest me deeply and it eventually lead to Sunny Skies Starry Eyes. It started as a humble attempt to keep snail mail alive through postcards and has developed into a range of illustrated products that provide doses of happiness and wisdom. My work is inspired by my travels, culinary exploits, music, visual experiences and social exchanges.”
On 100days of Bangalore sketches, she shares, “When I first started the project, I was simply drawing places that I loved in the city – favourite restaurants, landmarks etc. I was charged up with the idea of illustrating this city that I’d grown to love so fondly in the past 5 years. My favourite part was visiting all the places before I drew them. It was such a great experience. Also, all the appreciation coming in for the work ensured that I was never low on enthusiasm. I also got to interact with so many people at events and got to know stories and more about the city and its places. Then came the first feature about the project in the National Geographic Traveller India. After that it was picked up by most online and some offline media. I was quite dizzy with all the attention. I had never expected the project to create such a buzz. I was so overwhelmed by all the appreciation it got. I’m still trying to get it made into a travel guide of sorts.
(By Shikha Nambiar- Sunny Skies Starry Eyes)
I started off with drawing my favourite places, which mostly consisted of eateries. Some where in between, I started running out of places and had to shout out on social media for help with places to illustrate. Soon I had crowd-sourced a big list and I was back on track. I spoke to old time Bangaloreans at events and got suggestions from them. I do feel i missed out on many important places, but I hope to continue the series soon ad include all the places that didn’t make it to the 100 series. The trees of Bangalore continue to be my favourite inspiration.
My dad and his mom were also artists and i grew up watching them paint and indulge in various creative projects. I believe that I get my creative genes from my dad 🙂 My grandmom’s home is filed with huge canvases painted by her and I am always inspired by her. Unfortunately, the time I finished school, art & design weren’t really looked at as secure careers (I’m so glad that is slowly changing now) and I ended up doing law (BBA,LLB).
A wise man once said “We all have two lives. The second one starts when we realize that we only have one.” I actually realized what that meant, when after studying law and being a lawyer, for 8 years, I decided to take the leap of faith and join Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore, to answer my calling. My family was more than supportive now because they knew it was for the best.
My mom was the one who had urged me to study law and she realized along the way that I wasn’t meant for that and I would only find meaning in a creative field. Ever since I decided to join Srishti School, she’s been ever encouraging and supportive. I’m also inspired by her a lot. She’s one of the most energetic people I know from her generation. She is an educator by profession and is very passionate about bringing about a change in education in India by training teachers well.
My husband Sudeep has always been a great support for all the 11 years that I’ve known him. He always pushes me to do better and gives me the courage to face my fears. He was a big driving force behind creating Sunny Skies Starry Eyes and always tells me to follow my heart and not worry about material success.”
(By Shikha Nambiar- Sunny Skies Starry Eyes)
Talking on the difference between an illustrator and an artist, Shikha says, “It is a rather difficult concept. There is a thin line between the two, especially when it comes to being an independent illustrator. I read this somewhere and it makes the most sense to me – an artist asks a question through his work, whereas an illustrator answers it. Illustrators usually work for someone, to depict an idea or convey a message. But in the end it also depends on the way you define yourself and your work. You could be either or both.
I’ve been running Sunny Skies Starry Eyes (my brand) for just over a year now and I feel that it is important to have a lot of patience (the first few months are quite tough), be focused and learn from the mistakes of others. You also have to love and believe in everything you do. That’s the one thing that keeps me motivated.”