Vidhya Nagarajan is the newest star of our Artist Process Video Series, and she’s been busy! Vidhya is a working illustrator, creating digital, hybrid, and manual works of art for high-profile clients including Google, Apple, the New York Times, and more. Her bright, bold, and exciting images are full of color and intricate detail. She’s a master of lettering, and her pieces often include text.
Vidhya lives and works in New York City, and her Artist Process Video comes to us from her home. In her video, she takes us through her career path, and the mediums that she works in. She discusses the pros and cons of being represented by an agent as a visual artist, and walks us through the process of designing one of her client projects.
This Artist Process Video is jam-packed with great tips and advice for young artists, and is just plain interesting and cool for the rest of us. After reading this article and watching Vidhya’s video, make sure to check out other Artist Process Videos by Russell Muits, Veronica Corzo-Duchardt, and Michelle Chandra.
Vidhya attended school for Communications Design, which is a mix of graphic design and illustration. When she graduated, she had to figure out how to get her work seen, and how to start making a living off of it. At the time, social media wasn’t the force that it is today, so she spent hours sending out postcards of her work to art directors, whose addresses she ripped from the masthead of popular magazines.
She emphasizes the importance of continued effort and determination when it comes to representing your own work as a young artist. There’s many times that you’ll fail, or get no responses, but trying again is key to making a career out of your visual art. The interim period will be uncertain, and you’ll feel tempted to give up! Vidhya reminds you that if you’re working hard and making efforts to network and share your work, you will succeed. Be patient!
Once you get your first few clients, you’ll start to build up a client list. You’ll have people coming back for repeat projects, and new clients will find you via your published work! However, things can always be rocky for freelancers of any kind. Vidhya explains “When it rains, it pours,” and to always be thinking long-term preparing for periods with less work when you have more work.
Vidhya works in a variety of different mediums, whether pen, printmaking, pencil, or digital drawing software. She loves creating solid fields of flat color in her digital and traditional work, mimicking the quality of digital coloring through paint pens and other mediums. Her work is full of dynamic black lines, and figures on the move, whether they’re playing, shopping, or riding through the jungle on a Vespa.
One of her most well-known series is her sketchbook travel series. On each new day of a trip to a new city or town, Vidhya creates two page spreads of doodles and lettering to record what she did and the sights that she took in. The center of each spread is always an ornate, hand-lettered rendition of the travel location’s name. Fanning out from the center are doodles of scenes, tourist attractions, and food she enjoyed, alongside little descriptions of each. She always uses black and one other color, with the lettering strongly influenced by signage and style of a city or neighborhood.
Vidhya creates visual products for brands and magazines, working on a client’s concept in her personal style. In this video, she walks us through a project for Gigantic Brewing Company. She shows us the finished product, a label for a new beer, and then shows us how the process looks in the digital drawing software, Procreate. She sketches out the main elements of the design and then works on creating an intricate background. She then goes over the main subject of the piece several times, layering and adding color and patterns.
In her day to day, Vidhya works on client projects and pieces for her portfolio and website. When she needs to take a break from stressful work, she enjoys silkscreening and other forms of printmaking. It’s how she decompresses, and is a style of work that she creates mostly for herself and her own enjoyment. As an artist who makes a living from making art, it’s still crucial to set time aside to make things for yourself, in your own style, and on your own timeline!
Representation as a visual artist is something that doesn’t get a lot of press. Lots of folks have no idea that an agent could be helpful to them, and never consider it as a viable option. As an artist with an agent, Vidhya wanted to take the opportunity to explain what the pros and cons are.
For Vidhya, having an agent means that a lot of stressors are taken off of her plate. She doesn’t have to worry about communication with potential clients, negotiating terms for projects, or conducting publicity. She gets to focus on her work and on creative pursuits. Of course, agents get a portion of your sales, but to Vidhya it’s worth it!
She knows that she doesn’t work well under high-stress conditions, and that having an agent makes her more productive and less anxious. It’s all about knowing yourself and your needs as an artist. Finally, some clients prefer to work through agents, as they have lists of vetted clients. Hiring an agent can help you get projects with larger companies, like Apple or Google in Vidhya’s case.
Vidhya’s Artist Process Video was one of our favorites, because it provides so much specific advice tailored to young artists. She knows what it feels like to emerge from school and have to make your way in the cutthroat world of art, and she has some grounding and reassuring suggestions. Building a career as an artist is a slow and gradual process, but if you keep working at it, you’re guaranteed to find success.
If you enjoyed this article and Vidhya’s video, stay tuned for more from our Artist Process Video Series. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated, and check out some of our Artist Interviews to read more about the journey to becoming an artist!
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