Creating digital prints combining her love of music and pop art, Aleesha Nandhra is just the type of new illustration talent that we’ve been looking for. And it seems that her colourful offerings are just the start, as she’s graduating from the Cambridge School of Art later this year. We spoke to Aleesha about what influences her work and how she keeps away from creative block:
How would you describe your style of work?
I would describe it as mixed media. I sort of have two different ways I like to work. One approach means using only a computer to make an image. The other involves drawing and painting with whatever I can get my hands on, then using the computer as a tool for scanning. Both approaches start with thumb-nailing ideas and a drawing!
You’ve said that you often take inspiration from music and pop art. What draws you to these things?
I grew up with parents who were music lovers, and some of my earliest memories are of listening to music while being able to hold the LP cover and look at the artwork. I think that’s probably where my love for the relationship and association between art, design and music comes from. The love of Pop Art probably stems from this too, as I often find my musical heroes depicted in works of Pop Art. I also have an (unhealthy?) obsession with packaging and the whole Pop Art ‘idea’ of turning the ordinary and the everyday into art.
Who is your favourite musician to illustrate and why?
It depends on what kind of phase I’m going through with what I am listening to. A bit of Bowie is always good though!
Having just completed three years at university, how do you keep inspired to create new works of art? Is it hard to think of new ideas?
I think it’s easy to be inspired if you make work about what you are passionate about. I just listen to music I like, watch things and see things that I am interested in, and the ideas (usually) come about from that. It’s knowing when you need to recharge the ‘ideas’ part of your brain too though. Sometimes you just need to soak things up without consciously trying to think of an idea; taking a break and doing something completely different from my task usually works for me. Writing down things you think of is important too, that way there is always a back-log of ideas when you do get stuck!
Who are your favourite illustrators?
The one person I always constantly come back to is Peter Blake. Although I don’t know whether most people would regard him more in terms of a Pop Artist than an Illustrator. I also love the work of Herve Morvan, Ben Newman, Eric Carle, Ping Zhu, Andrew Kolb… I could keep going! I have so many for different reasons!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
I am working on some music and food packaging designs for my portfolio, and preparing for a part-time teaching job!
It seems that you’ve got a lot on your plate at the moment, how do you manage to work on numerous projects without losing track?
I’m lucky, I think I’ve just got so used to having multiple projects on at the same time because of university. I’m also a perpetual list-maker. I love lists. That way I know what to prioritise and can keep an eye on deadlines and everything else.
And finally, do you have any advice for any budding illustrators or those about to graduate like yourself?
If you really love it, do it. Don’t let anyone discourage you from your goals. And be open to looking at, and trying new things!