Noopur Choksi, a 23-year-old illustrator born and raised in a small industrial town called Vapi, Gujarat, demonstrates an ability to mix digital and analogue for a more communicative and expressive style of design. Having studied graphic design at the National Institute of Design in India, her multidisciplinary skills became transparent in her latest artistic endeavours. Drawn to presenting the links between “form, structure, composition and narrative” found in both illustration and design, her imagery depicts a surrealist and intimate representation of human nature. We caught up with the Noopur to find out more about her creative process and how her design background informs her work as an illustrator.
How does your degree in Graphic Design tie in with your illustration work? What’s the relationship between the two?
Illustration does not function independently from graphic design. I want to break this image that some people might have of illustrators. No Illustration can be created without paying utmost attention to form, structure, composition and narrative. All of these form the core elements in any design. In fact, graphic design is what helped me see illustration in a totally different context than usual; in the sense of not being limited to be seen solely as a ‘drawing’. That gave me the confidence to experiment more and not care too much about trends within design.
Also, there’s the brutality of Illustration — you sitting with yourself, your inner voices and reflections. There is a certain no-nonsense independence that draws me towards it. I’m interested in the ways you can turn something mundane into a visual treat or something beautiful into a viewer’s nightmare. I wanted to play with those parameters. It gave me the freedom to tell stories, to customise these stories, or to leave them open-ended…that was almost addictive.
What’s your main source of inspiration and creative process?
There is so much exposure to information nowadays and it is sometimes over-whelming. I am inspired by people who make sense of this chaos, and I’ve learned a lot from being around diverse people — I think that really influences the way I work.
Most of my ideas come from interactions with people, actual places and moments in life that trigger some unexpected feelings. Identifying these narratives is a major part of what goes on in my head before I put pen to paper. I also enjoy weaving stories around characters inspired by still images from strange fashion photography or social media pop stars. The rest comes from a particular place of semi-meditation, an introspection, a restlessness or an urge to convey something. I think my work embodies a lot of my personality and interests but I am always striving to make it more relatable.
Tell me about the imagery: who are the characters? Are there any running themes?
I think my work has always revolved around depicting people within a weird space: somewhere between surrealism and pop art. When it comes to imagery, I appreciate a simple idea that is visually powerful and full of obscurity. I tend to illustrate imperfect characters: strong, independent, moody and somewhat exposed but at the same time lost in thought. I aim to go beyond the one-dimensionality of female characters portrayed in women’s magazines and advertising that are often just charming and meant to please. I’m interested in identifying people’s reactions, behaviour, portraying activities, intimate moments, body gestures and morphing evolving organic forms.
Through these characters caught in seemingly mundane activities, I try to address the anxieties of modern society, the pressures of modern technology and social media, with an urge to isolate oneself from all the delusions it brings. I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I have always been a huge admirer of the analog medium because it brings in a spontaneity and freshness. It’s organic and has a sense of warmth which I find hard to replicate digitally, so I am constantly trying to strike a balance between the two somehow.
My work is constantly evolving and I am always looking at ways to make my characters more diverse and inclusive, while exploring themes that have a direct impact on culture and society.