Artist Sunali Narshai

The art world  can be confusing to a non creative. Looking at an artwork, trying to understand its meaning and purpose and applying that understanding to the question “so what?’ can be a bit tricky, which is why its always good to get to know the artist. I recently interviewed a long time friend who is currently doing some great work in the field of digital art, artist Sunali Narshai.

The Visual Fox | Art | Sunali Narshai

  1. How long have you been drawing for?

I guess I started like everyone else, just drawing as a kid and seeing my scribbles taped to the fridge. Being an only child, it was the most fun I could have on my own and I drew constantly until high school. I didn’t take art seriously enough to study, so I gave it up and went to Rhodes. That didn’t really work out, so I dropped out after two years and took some time off to figure out what I really wanted to do. While I was figuring that out, I started drawing again. That was when I knew it was what I should be doing with my life and I’ve been drawing ever since.

2. What is your favourite style and or medium to draw in?

Charcoal is always my go-to because of the depth and gradient it allows, while still being dark and intense on a white page. It’s also a chance to get my hands dirty, usually my face as well. I’ve got more into ink recently, usually favouring a brush pen. I enjoy playing around with pen pressure and the textures of a dry pen, it allows for a lot of rapid detail and spontaneous mark-making.

Digital media is as much a medium to me as anything else. I love animation, drawing things in quick succession and seeing how they move together. I’m still learning how to bring my paper work and digital work together in a successful balance. Although they always play off each other, I usually find myself favouring one or the other. I can’t say I favour either one more, but I’d like to eventually combine them in an innovative way.

I love gritty, bold images against clean, sterile backgrounds. I very rarely draw backgrounds, they always seem to detract from whats really going on. I like to include the blank canvas in the final work as a way of creating contrast with the actual drawing. I’m really into organic mark-making, when things are messy and uninhibited. I try to stop myself from pressing cmd+z too often when I’m animating, and rather let the mistakes mean something. Things look more interesting when they aren’t made to be perfect. I like it when the worst part of the artwork is actually what makes it beautiful in the end.

Mostly, I think the attraction to each medium is that they give spontaneous, emotive results and not a lot of clean up afterwards. I am definitely a lazy artist. I get bored easily and thoughts come and go so fast. Charcoal, ink and digital let me capture an idea as soon as it comes around. And once its on the page, the work is done. The last thing I want to do is wash paint brushes after the thrill of creating something.

3. Where do you look for inspiration?

If I’m actively looking, I go straight to Pinterest. Which is probably the worst place to find inspiration, because it’s so saturated with ideas that can affect the purity of my work. But it’s useful in starting the day being visually stimulated, I’ll usually have my morning coffee and just bombard my brain with pictures until I feel overwhelmed and have to make something.

If I just need to recharge before a project, I usually do some gardening or go for a hike. Nature definitely inspires me, but more indirectly than actually looking at art.

5. Is there a conceptual component to your drawings if so, explain.

I don’t think my art has to mean something but often it does anyway. Concept always comes in, either as the motivation to make something or in retrospect when everything is done. Sometimes I start out with a concept and the challenge is to represent that visually, usually this is for client work. For personal work, I see conceptual patterns but I’m not always aware that they’re happening. I know that if my process is honest, the work will have some conceptual relevance to my life or the world around me. Often I fall into coming up with some academic justification for why I do what I do, often these works are just as contrived at the stuff I made at Rhodes. Old habits die hard.

The Visual Fox | Art | Sunali Narshai

6. How has the digital world influenced your work? 

Coming from a Fine Art background, the digital world looked like unexplored territory. There was, and still is, a struggle between art and technology. This really excites me, it leaves so much room for experimentation and growth.

I think digital artists are always finding ways to define and redefine the digital landscape. Yes, it changes the way I work, but I’m never limited by it. Its always changing and I change with it. It’s about being open to the multitude of possibilities that technology offers. Whether its coding, animation, illustration, or even just using it conjunction with other medias like painting or photography. It can go hand in hand with anything.

Involving a machine in the artistic process seems completely opposite to what art is really about, and I think that has a lot to do with technology still looking like a tool rather than a medium. It’s easy to see it as some kind of special effect you add at the end to cover up shortcuts, but it’s harder and more fulfilling to see it as an intrinsic part of the creative process. I think the only way around this, for me, is to retain a playfulness with mark making and produce technologically based works in an organic way.

7. Where can people find your work?

The internet is the place to be. I have a website, Society 6 shop and Instagram’s brought me a few clients.

8. What are your plans for the future?

I would love to make a short animated film.

The Visual Fox | Art| Sunali Narshai

The Visual Fox | Art | Sunali Narshai

The Visual Fox | Art | Sunali Narshai

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