The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

The Creators | Vaishnavi Agarwal

Rohit Nair, Class of 2019

The Creators is a fortnightly series of artist profiles of Ashokans who are actively involved in different creative fields including music, photography, creative writing, and visual or performing arts.

Vaishnavi Agarwal is an ASP student, with a major in Economics and a concentration in Visual Arts. Apart from Economics, which she is will further study in the prestigious London School of Economics, she is interested in digital art, illustrations, and graphic designing. Vaishnavi is the founder of Do Numberi, the art and illustration series that gives quirky and insightful comments on Ashokan life. I spoke to Vaishnavi about her interest in art, Do Numberi, and the future of art and artists at Ashoka.

The artist, Vaishnavi Agarwal

How did you get into art and when did you develop an affinity for it?

My mom was a huge inspiration, really. She is really passionate about art, and I think I have gotten some of it. I remember the house was full of art supplies like brushes and colors, and I used to play around with them when I was really young. But it was only recently that I got into digital art and I am finding it incredibly fascinating. I knew nothing when I started and I had to learn everything as I went along. But the possibilities in digital art are endless, and that is exciting!

What kind of artwork, do you as a viewer, find pleasing? Any favorite artists?

I know it might sound strange, but I do not like Realism. But I enjoy looking at other people’s works, especially digital art. Mixed media is one of my favorites mostly, partly because Digital art allows one to combine a variety of things. Manjit Thapp is one of my favorite illustrators; she does some very interesting work. Pop art is definitely on the list — Warhol is an obvious favorite while Rauschenberg is another illustrator whose work I take inspiration from. I also love political cartoons and am always on the lookout for new and interesting ones. Right now, one of my favorites is this series on Indian politics called “Crocodile in Water, Tiger on Land”. What amazes me about art is its capability to show events and people in so many different ways.

One of Vaishnavi’s Ashoka-inspired artworks

How did the idea of Do Numberi strike you? How has the response and experience been?

I used to draw a lot but after coming to Ashoka, I didn’t always find the time or energy. Even though I used to do illustrations for The Edict and worked on other independent projects, I never got the chance to draw about Ashoka and life on campus. That is why I started Do Numberi, hoping that having deadlines will help me do it more regularly. Initially, I was skeptical about my work, but the response I got was amazing and it helped make it a more regular thing. I was genuinely surprised when my art got completely sold out during the various Ashokan Haats and fairs. Plus, I could make a little money doing what I loved doing, and that was encouraging.

Have you considered pursuing it as a profession? Is it something that you can see yourselves doing even after Ashoka?

I have definitely thought about it but, right now, I don’t think I would enjoy doing it full time. I enjoy Economics and I want to keep doing that. The reason art is fun is because I only get the time to do it occasionally. The commitments and deadlines would take the fun out of it and that did happen with Do Numberi as it got a little frustrating because I had to stick to the deadlines I had set for myself.

A work in progress | Credits: Vaishnavi Agarwal

I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to draw/illustrate after Ashoka, but I’m certain I’ll take my hobby with me. Do Numberi was about my time in Ashoka and that is unfortunately coming to an end. I am not sure if I’ll continue to publish my work after this — Ashoka just happened to be a good place to do that. But I’ll continue to draw and illustrate for myself, and they’ll be about my new life and the things around me..

What do you think is the scope for art on campus? How can we make this better?

I think there are some great artists on campus and I would love to see their work come out. In my time at Ashoka, I tried to work towards getting together a Student Artist collective but little has amounted so far. The way I see it, students can give their artworks to the university, which can then use the art on its merchandise and brochures. Many colleges abroad do this successfully, and it’s a great way to encourage on-campus artists and give them publicity. The artists will also earn a small royalty from the sale of the merchandise. I hope that a few Ashokans take this up seriously with the administration and work with them to make it possible; I’d love to see this happening!

The author is an Arts & Culture staff writer at The Edict.

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