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Sketching A Life On A Sheet Of Paper: Bhavya Desai

Bhavya Desai, the mind behind ‘While You Were Asleep’, dives into his illustrative work and the ability to see a composition as a whole.

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Bhavya Desai

His style, in a manner of speaking, is a call back to some of the older generational illustrative work that we were used to as children. There is a distinct sense of nostalgia in some of his pieces, evoking an imagery that is reminiscent of the work of celebrated authors such as R.K. Narayan. To be frank, I couldn’t imagine a better suited candidate to illustrate ‘Malgudi Days’ other than Bhavya Desai. With a trademark style, that comes marked with an exaggerated flair, Desai’s work will leave you feeling like you just read a ‘Tintin’ comic on a lazy Sunday afternoon. And that, by far, is the best feeling there is.

Desai’s passion for art, perhaps, first started as a child, with him spending time around some really excellent art stationary. His father, actually, studied Fine Arts and is a professional artist. Desai, however, would use other tools to draw, ones that were more appropriate and accessible to him at that age. That allowed him to build a strong foundation to his illustrative work. In fact, to this day, he still works with stationary like coloured pencils, amongst others.

Artist Bhavya Desai's new series 'While you were asleep' is an ode to the  night shift workers - The Hindu
Credit: Instagram (Bhavya Desai)

When asked about how he first began drawing, Desai recalls how, as a child, he held a distinct fascination for cars and would often, as a hobby, illustrate them on paper. Even so, he wasn’t just content with drawing a single car on a blank sheet of paper. No. He would go on to fill the entire space with whatever he could manage. This style, of positioning an intricately detailed background to his main subject, is something that is clearly evident in his work even today.

Diving into that a little deeper, Desai has a very clear cut idea on how to compose an illustrated panel. When working on a certain scene, he emphasizes on making sure that the illustration is treated as a single scene. You see, as he explains, there is the possibility of the background and the main subject, of an illustration, to be viewed separately when the composition, while being illustrated, is not treated as a whole. That, he says, would detract from the finished piece. Even so, Desai recalls how he, himself, had to tone down his backgrounds. He mentions how it was pointed out to him earlier that it was, sometimes, difficult to focus on a single subject in his work due to the fact that he would often infuse his backgrounds with the same exaggerated style that he would give to his characters. Now, however, he is more conscious about it, only bringing his backgrounds to the fore, with his highly stylized flair, when the need arises.

Artist Bhavya Desai's new series 'While you were asleep' is an ode to the  night shift workers - The Hindu
Credit: Instagram (Bhavya Desai)

There is this idea of using the term ‘cartoonish’ as a blanketing term to describe any illustrative work that has an exaggerated style to it. Desai states how he had to clarify, on many occasions, to his clients the underlying differences that exist in the world of ‘cartoonish’ illustrative work. Even so, it is necessary to understand that an artist, in their illustrative work, can draw from the world around them while, simultaneously, approaching a certain scene in a manner that is uniquely their own. Desai, for instance, does not use third party reference material for any of his work. He prefers to see and experience the things he draws. That, he says, allows him to inject his own work with a certain sense of honesty and feeling that would, otherwise, be absent were he to take his references from a third party source.

This idea of approaching something on his own before putting it down on paper is very evident in some of his projects. In point of fact, his project ‘While You Were Asleep’, an ode to night shift workers, was based on capturing the lives and experiences of the people who facilitate our lives. From the newspaper delivery man to the milkman, ‘While You Were Asleep’ is an incredibly thoughtful illustrated project that explores the idea of the parallel, but never colliding, lives that exist in our society. You should definitely check it out. Now, as we speak, Desai has another personal project that he is currently working on. Tentatively titled ‘Scenes From A Railway’, the project captures the multitude of lives and people that exist in a railway station. By the time you read this, he would have released another panel from that project.

Bhavya Desai Archives | Creative Gaga
Credit: Instagram (Bhavya Desai)

When I ask him the reason behind him gravitating towards, somewhat, longer projects, his answer is simple and, yet, it underlines his dedication and perseverance when it comes to engaging in anything. You see, when Desai decides on a certain theme, he wants to capture the entire experience from every possible angle. Doing so allows him to completely do justice to what he is illustrating. For example, in ‘While You Were Asleep’, he could have opted to illustrate all the individuals in a single panel. However, doing so would mean that he wouldn’t be able to convey the experiences and lives of his subjects in a wholesome manner to his audience.

This same dedication is also present in Desai’s own journey as an artist. Prior to pursuing his passion for art and dedicating himself completely to it, he worked at an architecture firm as a 3D Visualizer. Even back then, he desperately wanted to be an illustrator. When he finally worked up the courage to quit his job and go for what he wanted, he found himself having to work incredibly hard to build a catalogue of clients. Now, each time he works with a client, he considers it to be a milestone. There is, in Desai, an immense appreciation for the faith and the trust that his clients put in his work.

Every time I get a new client, it’s like a new milestone because that’s someone else believing in me.

Bhavya Desai

Drawing from his own personal experiences, Desai talks about how it is incredibly important to focus on one’s own work and personal improvement. When setting out to do anything, it is almost a necessity to be completely dedicated to one’s own endeavours rather than being distracted by the work and accomplishments of others. That, he says, allows you to maintain your own trajectory in your chosen path. After all, if Bhavya Desai hadn’t done the same, you would never be able to see some of the incredible work he has put out.

Turning the Mundane into Magic: A Peek into Bhavya's Illustrations |
Credit: Instagram (Bhavya Desai)
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ART & CRAFT

Harshita Gakkhar: Framing Your Furry Friends In Watercolours

Growing up without a pet and surrounded by art, Harshita bases her portraits on the personal bond shared by the pet and the parent.

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Harshita

The happiness pets bring us cannot be completely captured in words. But, Harshita is doing exactly that with her real-life watercolour paintings. You cannot scroll through her Instagram account, in which she shares her pet portraits, without a smile on your face. So, we can imagine the contentment she gives to the pet parents with her portraits.

Harshita has had an interest in art since her childhood days. Coming from a family where her mother, aunt and other relatives took an interest in art and crafts, she has always been surrounded by art. She had a natural inclination towards art as she could form an instant bond with it. She took art classes in school and also took part in art-related contests and activities during her schooling in Step By Step High School in Jaipur. She was also very keen on exploring and experimenting various fields in art ranging from glass painting to wood painting to mandala art. 

Her decision to choose her path in painting pet portraits came as a result of this quest for experimentation she had since her childhood. While seeking to do something that she has not tried during her earlier days, she picked up water colouring, which she found challenging. She notes how it is difficult to have control over watercolours unlike acrylic and oils, with which it is easier to rectify mistakes. She remembers how she had to start from the basics of watercolour. Beginning her watercolour journey from landscape paintings, she gradually moved on to portraits.

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

What made her pick pets to make portraits of was the compassion she had for animals. She notes that the eyes of cats and dogs “speak a lot” and they appear “soulful” to her. Making pet portraits was not an easy job and Gakkhar admits to having failed many times during the time she started it. But what kept her committed to it was the happiness her paintings brought to people. 

She recalls the first time she made a pet portrait for a friend who lost a few-month-old puppy. The sudden demise had caused a lot of sorrow to the family when Gakkhar decided to immortalise the puppy in her canvas. The delight with which she recalls the joy her friend experienced upon receiving the portrait speaks volumes about the self-contentment she receives from making the paintings. The cheer that her first portrait brought to others made her realize that a lot of people could connect and associate with her art. The personal connection that she could bring out with her pet portraits was what made her enthusiastic about continuing her projects and posting them on Instagram. Putting her work out there for the world to see helped her in bringing happiness to all those who needed their beloved pets to be illustrated. 

The love she has for the four-legged friends is quite evident in her paintings. But, you would be surprised to know that she did not have a pet growing up! However, she was always around the pets of her friends and family. Although she is a skilled painter of dogs, she remembers being scared of them in her childhood. Now, she says, she is happy to meet a dog and enjoys their company. 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

Being a self-taught artist and having had her presence established on social media with her work, she strongly believes that any skill can be acquired by anyone if they are willing to be consistent. She believes that the struggle is in being consistent, disciplined and persistent about your dreams. She remembers how she had failed innumerable times while starting. Despite being scared of failures, she practiced regularly. She admits how some of her failed paintings do not make it to social media and how she tunes her feed to display only her best work. 

In an age where technology offers you platforms to display your talents in a world of budding artists, she believes it is important to stand out. She wanted to carve a niche of her own with her pet portraits and the first step she took was to create a portfolio. She picked 12 different dog breeds to paint and shared them on social media so that people could assess the quality of her works themselves. She mentions how reviews from her clients have helped her in gaining more recognition on social media. She holds reviews important as it helps in convincing potential clients and winning their trust. Genuine reviews can be achieved, Gakkhar believes, only through performance. She makes it a point to give her very best to each of her clients by putting in the same kind of effort and precision into each of her portraits. She also mentions how it would take time to build up one’s name in any field, but she is ready to strive for it. She does not hide her immense joy in being featured for the first time in the September 2021 issue of Buddy Life, a major pet magazine in India. She shared how great it felt to be featured in the magazine along with other industry experts while talking about this celebrity moment of hers. 

For a person who hasn’t had a pet growing up, it is indeed surprising how Harshita manages to bring to life the pet-parent pond in her canvas. She shares with us how the clients who reach out to her gushes about their pets in a manner one would talk about their child or a family member. She builds on this attachment that is shared by the pet and the parent and attempts to bring this connection alive through her portraits. She tries to portray the pets who have passed away from the photos shared by the clients and how they envision their pets to be remembered forever. She tries to render a heart-warming image, according to the client’s wish, of their pets either sitting in a garden, or with their favourite toy, or surrounded by butterflies. She finds her reward in imprinting the memories of their pets permanently with colours on her portraits. She finds this venture challenging and at the same time mentions how she derives happiness from it. What she learned through this journey is that each portrait and pet is different. Though there are several dogs of the same breed, she realized that each of them has its likes, quirks and traits. In her portraits, Harshita attempts to evoke this uniqueness of each pet. 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)

Her Advice!

To anyone seeking to follow their passion in art, Harshita’s advice is to explore different types of mediums and subjects. She suggests working on something that one could personally connect with and brings happiness. She urges anyone who wants to follow their path of passion to give it 100% and not give up. Another factor she emphasizes is consistency. She believes that the key to growth in any field is consistent practice. 

She is all set with some new projects for the coming months. She is planning to launch her first merchandise of the year – the 2022 calendar with live cat and dog illustrations – by November, apart from the pet portraits. 

Harshita Gakkhar stands out among many other artists through her consistent efforts and the competency that she has developed all through her art journey. With her talent, her willingness to work hard and her optimism, her dream of having people hang her portraits in their homes all around the world is not distant from her! 

Credits: Instagram (thedoodledidi)
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ART & CRAFT

An Assortment of Colours: Some Emerging Artists to Check Out

Here’s a look at some emerging artists and their works that offer pleasing visuals full of colours and creativity.

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Art

Who doesn’t love colours, especially when they are put to good use in works of painting and illustrations? Which is why we have suggestions of some beautiful art pages you should definitely check out. Have a look at these emerging artists and their budding creativity, admire their practices and perfections, and maybe get inspired to do some art yourself! 

Sanghamitra Paul

Sanghamitra Paul’s artwork is a thing to behold. Her creations with their classic eyes, spirited colours and lovely scenes of illustrations are heavily loaded with a taste of culture and Paul’s unique styling and conceptualisation. Playing with acrylics and digital mediums, there’s not one illustration by Sanghamitra that wouldn’t catch your eye!

Credits: Instagram (Sanghamitra Paul)
Credits: Instagram (Sanghamitra Paul)

Mihika Srimani

Mihika Srimani’s digital illustrations are varied in the sense of their depictions, some dreamy, some realistic scenes, some of goddesses, some of people and places. The creations, however, are similar in their skillful attempts by Mihika, who not just fills colours into the works but also makes them familiar and come alive. 

Credits: Instagram (Mihika Srimani)
Credits: Instagram (Mihika Srimani)

Ipshita Biswas

Ipshita Biswas does digital portraits in wonderful colours with a spark of silver or golden. The striking aspect of most of her works is the way the shades blend in with each other giving the piece a distinctive touch of surreality. From some relatable illustrations to portraits of Kahlo or Indian Goddesses, Ipshita does them all!

Credits: Instagram (Ipshita Biswas)
Credits: Instagram (Ipshita Biswas)

Aiswarya R Kamath

Aiswarya Kamath’s page is a collection of works of watercolour, acrylics, and mandalas. They look like they’ve been attempted with conscious attention to details, and yet carry a sense of simplicity that is very beautiful in their entirety. Aiswarya’s work is of the prettiest kind because it makes you want to pick up your paints too! 

Credits: Instagram (Aiswarya R Kamath)
Credits: Instagram (Aiswarya R Kamath)


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ART & CRAFT

Intricacies of Illustrating Reality with Blends of Colour: Ankita’s Art and Career

Meet Ankita, a watercolour artist who uses her medium to seamlessly capture humane impressions and expressions, as she gives us a glimpse into her life, art and expectation!

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Ankita Impressions

It is true, you can feel the fervour in the artist’s words – in the way they phrase statements when they talk about their art. You can almost hear the lessons they’re learned, the struggles they’ve overcome to reach where they stand today. You can see their eyes light up as you read the words they write when sharing bits and pieces of their artistic journey. Or at least I did, when I was reading Ankita’s interview.

Building the Base: Sketching and Colour Blocking

Growing up in a typical Indian middle-class family, Ankita’s childhood revolved around three things – “art, movies and picking up fights with my younger brother”. And we love that for her. She picked up art at a very young age. Doodling and sketching on notebooks, Ankita grew up to realize she would have to put her dreams on hold for some stability in life. Today, she is not only phenomenal with her paint and tools but she is well educated and successful
with a Master’s in International Business.

Trust The Process: Deepen the Colours

It was only during the lockdown last year that she got the chance to reconnect with her art. Before that, art was just a way she would ease the stress from her job. Now, it became a vital part of her personality.

When asked about her inspirations and motivations, Ankita mentions Nishikant Palande and his unique style of watercolour that she admires. She praises him as a teacher, explaining how he breaks the complex processes into really simple bits so that young and inexperienced artists can learn at their own pace. Ankita further mentions her family and close friends as her source of motivation, constantly showering her with love and support.

Credits: Instagram (ankitaimpressions)

“Any creative process is like meditation; it requires, if not same then, more focus, discipline, dedication and imagination and just like meditation it does not provide instant gratification it’s only with time and much effort that you see the results in both these processes.

Ankita

If you have seen Ankita’s art portfolio, you will have noticed the theme of capturing humane expressions and emotions. Her Instagram feed is an absolute eye candy, as you scroll past beautifully illustrated portraits. The detailing in all the pieces is simply immaculate. You can literally see the shine in the peoples’ eyes! So we had to ask her, does it all have a meaning? Some subliminal messaging, perhaps? Quoting her response directly she said, “Everyone has their own perception of the same art piece. If we take Da Vinci’s Monalisa as an example, when you pay close attention to the emotions expressed through her lips, the question arises – Is she smirking or is it a pasted smile to hide the inner conflict?

You see, Da Vinci understood that the unspoken poetry of emotions when expressed by the face, the eyes and the mouth will always rhyme. Hence both these parts in the painting have been deliberately left indistinct by the artist. For me? I like to leave it to the viewers to decipher the artist’s perception and come to their own conclusions.”

The online artistic community and regular people have shown nothing but love towards my work.

Anikta

While talking about her struggles and hard work, she recalls one of the most courageous things she has ever done. It was posting her art online for the first time; Showcasing it to people who weren’t her friends and families. It was fighting the voices in her head that said her work wasn’t good enough and people will ridicule her. She fought hard; she put faith in her herself and she is here today.

And to be honest, it is truly baffling to see the talent this young woman possesses.

Credits: Instagram (ankitaimpressions)

Final Finishing Touches: Highlights, Anyone?

Before parting, we asked her for some advice for young aspirants beginning their journey.

“To all upcoming artists I will say that art is a process; you only improve by making more and more of it and picking up artistic habits as time goes on. This is what will help you find your unique style. Finally, don’t be deterred by mistakes. All the failures, every piece of work that you were not content with, all of it are an integral part of the process and this will eventually lead you to find your distinct style, way of expression, your artistic voice.”

Credits: Instagram (ankitaimpressions)
Credits: Instagram (ankitaimpressions)
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ART & CRAFT

If Multi-Talented Had a Name, Then It’s Vrushali!

Meet software developer and artist extraordinaire Vrushali from vrush_arts. Hers is an incredible story!

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Vrushali

The great thing about art (no matter what the world tries to say) is that art is accessible and safe for everyone. Art comes from within. It’s embedded within the code that makes all humans, truly human. You can embrace art to escape, express, emote and exist. It’s the perfect outlet. And the best part is that you get to define what it means to you. To you, art can mean anything. You can study it in school, write a dissertation on it or just lazily doodle something and be equally cherish-worthy. (even stick figures can do wonders)

As they say, it’s the feeling which matters. Our artist for today will not only make the colours pop but also your eyes.

Meet Vrushali

Vrushali was born in Dhule, Maharashtra and raised in Pune by a family of teachers. Her mother used to conduct tuition classes when she was about 2-3 years old. To keep the young Vrushali occupied her mother would draw some figures and ask her to fill them in with colours while she would teach. So from such an early age, Vrushali’s interest in art had blossomed.

When Vrushali reached primary school, she painted in competitions and won a lot of prizes. In fact, she even scored a perfect grade A in the Maharashtra State Board Art Examinations. (talk about an impressive feat!). Eventually, as she progressed in school (both academically and artistically) she picked up other crafts like quilling, Henna design, Rangoli making, singing and sculpting.

All of this while maintaining a pristine academic record is no mean feat. As high school approached, she began to lose touch with her creative side once career decisions and future prospects came into view.  She has a Bachelor’s in Engineering in Electronics and Telecommunication and is now working as (wait for it…)

A software developer in R&D!

Credits: Instagram (vrush_arts)

Style and Inspiration

Vrushali cites renaissance man Leonardo Da Vinci and post-impressionist Vincent Van Gogh as her biggest inspirations. Which is obvious to see, after all, greatness does beget greatness!  But personally, she calls herself a realist artist. One quick glance at her portfolio will make it quick for you to know that she loves nature. In her extremely exhausting and demanding job as a software developer, nature brings her peace of mind. Be it landscapes, florals, moonscapes and everything in between

When asked whether she, like many artists, has any hidden messages in her art she said-

 “I want to spread positivity and peace through my artworks. I get many comments on my post and messages like “This made my day ”, “Looking at your paintings make me feel happy”, “A great way to start a productive day”. This is my biggest achievement, I think. It feels amazing when someone gets inspired and happy through your arts and creativity.”

Truly, her art is nothing short of joyful.

Credits: Instagram (vrush_arts)

Challenges and Message

The daily 9-5 takes a heavy toll on the best of us. Vrushali’s job is hectic. So after 5 non-stop days of high performance and deadlines, creating art feels like therapy to her. Before the pandemic, it was hard to fit in a painting session in the week, but call it a silver lining & she picked up the skill again and started posting on Instagram. Her audience gradually felt strongly in love with her works. Now she even pursues high-end collaborations with some of the world’s topmost brands. Following her mother’s advice and belief in her abilities she now believes that one life is too short for all the heart wants to do!

Her message to all creative souls is this:

as my story tells you can be in one career and still continue your arts. It just takes confidence and dedication. You must be passionate about what you always wanted to do in your life. Set up a goal and try to achieve it. I want to tell beginners to continue their work no matter what the outcome is, one day you will succeed. Don’t give up and keep going on. Learn from YouTube and skillshare platforms and develop your skills. Don’t focus on numbers (followers on different social media like Instagram, Yt), Focus on your own skills. Try to create art for your own and don’t let social media affect your health. Quality really matters over quantity.”

Credits: Instagram (vrush_arts)

If you want to read another great artist‘s story here’s one

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ART & CRAFT

Painting Dreams with Graphic Designer Mahalaksmi Anantharaman

There’s no dream too small or too big, as is proven by ace visual designer Mahalakshmi Anantharaman

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Mahalakshmi Anantharaman

Imagine that you just saw someone display extraordinary measures of talent in front of you. I bet I can accurately guess the kinds of emotions it will stir up. First, there’ll be an electrifying wave of energy to start something new; to learn a new art form or hone an existing skill. But once a few moments pass, a totally different kind of emotion sets in—despondency. “Ah, what’s the point. I’m too old now”, “I’ll never be as good as them”, “I never studied this in school”, “It’s just going to be another colossal waste of money”, “I just wasn’t BORN with it”. 

This needs to change!

And we might just have the perfect story to start that change. 

Mahalakshmi Anantharaman is a graphic designer from Chennai whose talent speaks before her. Limitless, free and evocative is how one will surely feel after just one glance at her portfolio. And nostalgic too, certainly. She’s weaved her love for Ghibli movies, the introvert lifestyle and fan-arts into a beautiful tapestry. She often goes with the alias—Miss Blob Brush. And when we said limitless, we meant it. From typography to monochromes to watercolours or a digital reimagining of Starry Night, it seems there is no style she isn’t adept at. At Freshworks inc she was granted the ‘Exceptional Individual Performance Q2, 2020’ title!

But would you believe me if I told you that she’s actually graduated as a Computer Engineer!👀

Credits: Instagram (Mahalakshmi Anantharaman)

The Early Days

Mahalakshmi was always an artsy person but unfortunately designing and art still isn’t given the respect it deserves as a legitimate and rewarding profession. She had to struggle a lot in trying to convince her parents that Software Engineering and Medicine aren’t the only way to succeed in life. During this time, she went through a period of great emotional turbulence. She kept comparing herself and let her originality falter. Doubt had crept in.

But the hope persevered.

The Turning point

While in her third year of pursuing a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering from Meenakshi College, Chennai she decided to pursue graphic design full-time. She reached out to some well-known designers from institutes like IIT and NID, while she developed these networks she also prepared to give exams for some of the best design institutes in the country. But couldn’t clear them. But because she ventured out and met seasoned designers and artists, she learnt the tricks of the trade from them.

After gaining enough confidence, she started applying for industry roles as a designer and worked with a local startup called Flintobox Learning Solutions. After a year and a half, she became one of the top SaaS visual designers in Chennai! (Talk about growth!)

Currently, she works at Freshworks Inc. as a visual designer and is working hard to try new software, gain new inspirations, and use art as a medium to leave an impact in this world!

Credits: Instagram (Mahalakshmi Anantharaman)

Style

Like many illustrators and people across India, Mahalakshmi is a huge fan of Miyazaki movies and Anime. Spearheads like Kyoto Animations and Makoto Shinkai have spawned a new generation of designers who look at the world differently. Mahalakshmi herself says that she got inspired by the strong women of Ghibli movies to pursue her dreams.

And speaking of having a style, Mahalakshmi says that it’s really not mandatory to have one. Especially in the nascent stages of one’s career. Her advice to all aspirants is to keep looking for different inspirations and be as limitless & unique as you can be!

Credits: Instagram (Mahalakshmi Anantharaman)

A Message of Hope From Mahalakshmi

For the young soul who wants to pursue their dream/ passion, especially from India:

“Do strongly believe that someday in the future, you will have a platform to showcase your work and speak up for the soul who has a dream like yours. You can change the mindset of Indian families who put their child’s personal life over their career growth. Trust in yourself that you get an opportunity to change this for the better good and help budding aspirants fight for who they wish to be, irrespective of the pressure from their families. And to the Indian parents there, please do believe in your child’s support.”

So, the next time you feel like trying something but doubt starts grounding its flags; take a leaf from Mahalakshmi’s book and give it your best shot! After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!

For another inspiring story of a self-taught graphic designer check this out! 

Credits: Instagram (Mahalakshmi Anantharaman)
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