Express press service
CHENNAI: If social media is a testament to anything, it’s that art can take unlimited forms. It can reproduce reality, borrow from it or even take us beyond it – towards the fantastic and the surreal. In the case of Keerthana Chandrasekar, he can invite you to experience fabric, texture and design even on a two-dimensional plane.
With ink strokes and watercolors – her primary mediums – Keerthana creates fashion illustrations that give you a feel and look of clothing that may not yet exist. Some of them found their way to her Instagram account which attracted over a thousand followers.
On the way up
The Chennai girl became familiar with art at a young age and found a growing interest in creating all things people related. But it wasn’t until her second year at NIFT that she discovered fashion illustration as a subject. “I learned sketching (anatomy of a fashion figure) which gave me an idea of the geometric and proportionate side of art, but I trained myself to create figures by practice and not by measurement .
It was also the time when Instagram was reaching its heights. I was inspired by a lot of emerging illustrators and artists. It taught me a lot about style, techniques, proportions, drawing different races and more, which is also reflected in my work,” she adds. With newfound inspiration, she showcased her work on social media. Despite quantitatively fluctuating reception, largely found positive responses. She even received a “like” from fashion house Schiaparelli for a recreation of their piece worn by pop sensation Doja Cat.
After graduating, while she started working with an enduring brand NAMBI-KAI as a designer, she continued her work in illustrations, now doing the same for commissions. But the purpose of his work is quite different from any other art commission. “The illustration is different from the work of art. The latter is created from thoughts and inspiration and has no commercial value but the former is used to convey a message or as a selling point. Those lines have since faded a bit.
But I work with designers and illustrate their creations for production purposes, not artistic value. Many designers are good at conceptualizing but not at drawing. So they are looking for illustrators to translate their ideas into sketches to use for production or submit to competitions. Nowadays, brands and designers use illustrations for their advertisements, social networks or live events in case of store openings or new launches”, she shares, explaining that any fashion illustrator must know basic proportions even if they want to experiment and understand clothing, terminology, what goes into the process, fabrics, curtains, textures and the like. To stay on top of her game, Keerthana practices daily with quick sketches, some of which can be seen on her profile.
New media vs old
Keerthana’s fashion illustrations may stand out from other art but the practice is nothing new. For decades, fashion illustrations were widely commissioned to advertise and market the clothing brands had to offer. Of course now, with the rise in popularity and accessibility of photography, you see a lot less of the same thing for the same purpose. Even then, in a market flooded with images, illustrations found their place, says Keerthana.
“Photography is really popular and easy to get into, so the competition is really high. But on the other hand, the two mediums are extremely different. The days when illustrations were used to show clothing to consumers are long gone. That being said, now your eyes are constantly flooded with images. So in times like these, I think traditional art is quite refreshing. I see people turning to it. It won’t become as popular as photography, but it has created its niche. It may not be a default for brands, but it is an option.
In photography, some details may be missing, say maybe the mood of the model, but in illustration, everything is created by hand and it demands and attracts attention,” she explains. There’s another aspect that makes illustrations exciting, and that’s the fact that you can do anything with them. “If there’s a huge dress, I can make it bigger, more flamboyant.
There are many possibilities to make an image interesting in fashion illustrations, giving them something very exquisite and extravagant to show precisely how glamorous the world of fashion can be. With photography, you are limited with the resources you have… you can be as creative as you want with illustrations,” she explains.
Ultimately, Keerthana loves a good challenge. She is branching out into more live events – also taking realistic portraits – and hopes to see herself doing more in this area which continues to grow in Chennai.
Visit the Instagram page: @bykeetna