Patriotic paper art from the heart

Remember the doodle art work that was released by Google to commemorate 70 years of Indian Independence? The structure of the Parliament building overlooking the artistic Ashoka Chakra and curly peacocks did stand out. The artwork, posted on the creator’s Instagram handle, has got more than 4,000 likes, where none other than Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai had appreciated it. Overnight, the creator of this unique design — Sabeena Karnik — became popular, not only among her near and dear ones, but also worldwide, especially in Silicon Valley.

Pride and joy

All of this is a very emotional moment for the paper artist from Mumbai. “It was totally a pleasant surprise to receive an email about four months back from Google to work on a doodle for Independence Day. They wanted me to come up with a design showcasing the diversity of India, having the Parliament and Google script on it,” the artist says, over a phone interview.

What made it even more special for Karnik is that she had been selected for her paper typography, for the Independence Day Google Doodle. Erich Nagler, Art Director at Google, San Francisco, says over email, “I had seen Sabeena’s work before, but hadn’t considered her as a potential Doodle artist until another staff artist on the team came up with the idea. It was a great fit also, because Sabeena is based in Mumbai, so it was nice that she could create a Doodle for India. I don’t believe it is the first Doodle we have created out of paper, but it is probably the first one created using Sabeena’s signature style. I think the work is outstandingly beautiful, and that it speaks for itself. I am so proud that we were able to create this as a celebration for India.”

Paper trail

Though she harboured a fascination for paper art since college, like many applied art professionals, she too used to design on a computer. “I had done enough of digital work and wanted something more hands-on. Having done a major in typography, I decided to combine my love for paper with letters. I experimented with designing the letter A and completed the whole series till Z. I was satisfied with how it turned out and started to post on my website and Facebook account, and also opened an Instagram account.” It was through the online space that a high-end Indian jewellery brand approached Karnik to commission her first professional work. Over time, Instagram noticed her creative work and interviewed her for their blog. They even commissioned an original art piece that was installed at their head office at San Francisco. Since then, she has gained more visibility internationally, especially in USA.

From the time she received the brief from Google, the ideation, sketching and submitting the art piece took about two months. Talking about her conceptualisation, Karnik shares that she was inspired by rangolis and infused that in the Ashoka Chakra. “I wanted to create something unique which has two contrasting elements — robust Parliament structures with straight lines for pillars and curly colourful peacocks. I had sent two versions — a very straightforward one and the other, which had more designs, which got selected.”

Considering that it is a paper art work represented on a digital platform, the challenging part was maintaining the proper size for the logo and the right after-effect of the photo shoot. However, there were no hindrances, “They gave me freedom with regard to the size and design; my only concern was how it would look on Google’s digital platform after my original work is photographed. With the right shadow and lighting, they were happy with the end product.”

Working out

Ask her about the response to her work, and she says it is overwhelming. Although her longest and most challenging project — which took about 60 hours at a stretch — was for the Karnataka State Tourism Department, she gets more orders from abroad.

As a globe trotter, Karnik also enjoys painting scenic tourist points, though she has not yet converted those into paper typography. “I wish to do so. But my hands are full with my upcoming paper typography assignments.”

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 8:12:51 AM |

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