Adrita Das

Adrita Das Illustrator

A glance at Adrita’s work and you see a ton of photo collages embodying a set of puns, humour and a lighthearted take on things. Be it a juxtaposition of Narendra Modi staring out of a window to look at Mahatma Gandhi and the caption reading ‘So long, farewell, and thanks for all the black money’ or Indian Gods like Radha and Krishna from miniature paintings taking selfies under a hideout during monsoon and the tagline reading ‘But bae, do you think the Iphone is waterproof?’ or an illustration of Karl Marx doing stretches with typography on it saying ‘Stretch Marx’, demonstrate her clever use of puns. All in all, her work is a fresh take on things, artists have long been wary of exploring. 

She took to art as a kid. Infact, she describes her fascination with art not even as ‘getting into art’, it was always just there. It was instinctive. She just knew that this was something which was going to be very close to her heart for a long time. Speaking about the time when she actually delved into art she tells me ‘Actually I don’t even remember when it was!’. 

Adrita Das

Some of Adrita's work is a commentary on a political, cultural or a world issue, but not all of it. She believes in striking the perfect balance between having work that makes a statement or expresses an opinion and having work that is done out of a sheer love for creating. She took to creating photo collages about three years ago as an escape from her drawing duties as an illustrator. It stemmed out of a need for something to be a breather from the long monotonous task of illustrating content which she wasn't very passionate about. ‘Overtime I realised that there is lot of scope for something like that in India where we have a lot of styles. We have a very rich visual culture as a country and something which hasn't been explored yet because may be people have felt uncomfortable exploring it because it has so many religious and political backstories to it but I wanted to try it out and I wanted to see what the limits of such a thing are.’ 

Her creative process is very organic. She stumbles upon pictures which she is either instantly drawn to or has in mind something else which would look appealing juxtaposed against it. A lot of the times she saves these pictures or scans them and later gets to work on them. The contrasts and the similarities between elements in her work pose an aesthetic statement. For instance, in one series she replaces the skies in her pictures from Spain and substitutes them with the ceramic tile-work of Antoni Gaudi while expressing how she yearns for a multidimensional kaleidoscope for a world instead of clear blue skies. In another, the barren destructed landscape of Syria is juxtaposed with Mount Rushmore where the hues of both places amalgamate perfectly together.

Adrita Das

Although the traces of humour and frolic are evident in her work, I go on to ask her about her  visual language. ‘I would say it’s very Indian but that doesn't mean that it’s not minimal. I think it takes from the design language of what India has seen over the past few centuries and that's where I get most of inspiration from and even a lot of my recent design work, the colours and the way I use my layouts for different brands, I think its way of looking at Indian design without the clutter, without looking at it in a traditional way.’

Adrita Das

Steering away from the matter that forms her artworks, I ask her about her growth as an artist. Surprisingly, it goes beyond the evolution of her artistic expression. Upon starting her own agency a while back in April called Smarter than a Waffle, she has been keen on learning about the business side of things. ‘I have started focusing a lot more on how to go from being an independent artist to actually being an agency and how differently that works. In a way a lot of times in the past year was spent in learning the ropes of the industry I would say or learning how to manage a business on your own.’ The agency is currently in the process of launching a game which initially began as an April fool prank. The game is called Cards Against Sanskar. ‘On April first we released a prank where we asked people to pre-order a game like this. It was a prank but a lot of people ended up wanting to buy it so we are now in the process of making that game come to life. We are trying to come up with game that would suit Indian audiences and also be a better game than cards against humanity!’

You can see more of her here

Text Supriya Jain