Illustrator Hanisha Tirumalasetty Invites Us Into Her Surreal World

Constantly experimenting, constantly sharing stories, we imagine Hanisha Tirumalasetty’s mind must be a whirlwind of intriguing ideas and surreal visuals. It’s probably this constant flux of ideas that makes looking at her pieces akin to Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

We spoke with her to learn more about her journey, themes and advice she’d like to give to upcoming visual artists. Here’s what she said to us.

1) Tell us a little about yourself and your journey as an artist till now

Well, I graduated as an architect in 2013 from Bangalore and sort of decided to pursue art illustration and graphic design a few months after graduating. I moved to Bombay and joined a marketing and branding agency called Digital Dubba and learned graphic design and Photoshop on the job.

Since then I’ve sort of been with the same agency which eventually became Orion M&C. I also have been freelancing as well on the side.

2) How did you land on your current surreal Guillermo del Toro-esque style?

Personally, I’m a fan of subtle dark surrealism and I suppose that has seeped into my work as it’s developed over the years. I’m only ever behind creating a mood really and my general go-to mood seems to be a little bit of melancholy and a few twisted ideologies to create some unease in the person viewing the artwork.

3) Your pieces are definitely conversation starters. What do you think about the dialogue between the artist and her art – and the society? Is it there? Is it important?

I definitely think since art is put out in public forums for the society to consume, there is a dialogue that exists, whether it is intended or not. And it’s important to talk about it. For me, it really depends on the artwork.

Sometimes yes, I want to say something through my artwork but a lot of the times I just want to leave it open-ended or draw for myself. The dialogue with society in those times seems like it’s a byproduct. Everyone interprets it in completely different ways and it’s interesting to see where they take it from what it was intended.

4) What themes or subtleties such as individuality do you explore and express through the women featured in your pieces?

I like to sort of go where the piece takes me. I think thematically, it ranges from strength, femininity and empowerment to melancholy, abuse and a gentle submission to the unkindness of life.

4) You’ve worked on EP art and curated playlists too. How does the music you listen to bleed into your work (if at all)?

While I work I actually don’t listen to music. But before I work during the rest of my day I do and it sets the tone and the mood from which the artwork is born into.

5) What are you listening to at the moment?

Lots of Bernhoft, and Snarky Puppy at the moment.

6) What advice would you give to upcoming visual artists?

I think just to keep practising daily. There’s no other shortcut. Also, never be satisfied with where you are and to keep pushing your own limits every day.

7) Any exhibitions or projects we can look forward to?

Yes, a few EP artworks I’ve worked on which I cannot disclose as yet, unfortunately.

It’s definitely hard to find a self-taught visual artist so refined in her approach to creativity. Maybe that’s one of the many reasons her pieces stand out in the crowd. To stay updated with her work, check out her website and follow her on Instagram too.

Featured Image Credit: Hanisha Tirumalasetty

Written by: Disha Mukherjee


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