Self-taught artist, Aparna Ram had an interest in illustrating from a very young age. An investment associate by profession, she spent several years working in the traditional finance sector in London before moving to work abroad in India. Although this work was rewarding, she felt herself missing home and moved back in 2014. She returned to the industry but most recently decided to step back from the 9 to 5 routine to pursue her interests and focus solely on cuckoo for colour .
When we stumbled across her Instagram account not too long ago, we instantly fell in love with her work and commissioned Aparna to create some beautiful fashion illustrations for our Lakmé Fashion Week Spring/Summer features. Much to her delight, her work instantly captured the attention of well-renowned Indian fashion designers such as Anushree Reddy. Aparna has also been painting bridal portraits which we think make for such unique gifts for your friends or family members to treasure for a lifetime.
Now well and truly in the thick of the new year, Aparna is keeping herself busy with exciting new projects in the pipeline.
We’re incredibly excited to be working alongside Aparna and are also pleased to announce that for a limited time only, Cuckoo For Colour are offering readers of The Maharani Diaries an amazing 15% discount off any order. Simply enter the promo code ‘MAHARANI’ at the checkout. The perfect way to treat yourself for the new year.
Who or what inspired you to begin painting?
During my childhood, my colouring books were my best friend. I remember having to spend summers at my grandmother’s house in a village in South India and there being not much in the way of entertainment. So I would bring colouring books and colour one or two pictures everyday. When I ran out, I would copy the pictures onto spare pieces of paper and colour those. So whilst my interest in colouring and painting had always been there, it wasn’t until high school, when my art teacher began to encourage me that I began to take it more seriously. Unfortunately I moved schools shortly after and the arts class was already full. Luckily my parents found me an after school art teacher in our local area. She was a sweet old lady and taught me to paint with pastels. I’ve painted on and off since then.
Tell us a little about the type of projects you work on.
I’m pleased to announce that I’ve officially signed a publishing deal with Rainy Day Reads Publishing who will be publishing my first book later this year featuring a collection of fashion illustrations inspired by Indian fashion and cinema.
When did you develop an interest in fashion illustration?
Even when I wasn’t painting, I was following fashion bloggers and illustrators online. I’ve always found fashion to be inspiring and a lot of fun to illustrate. I have been experimenting with my style since my twenties. I think it was only natural that when I started painting again, I leaned more towards fashion than any other subject.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Everywhere! I could be browsing through a magazine and find myself wanting to interpret an image using watercolour. I also find photography to be very inspiring and of course Instagram where I follow some brilliant photographers, trendy fashionistas, high end fashion designers, travel blogs and so on.
Aparna’s India City Art Desk Calendar features custom illustrations of major cities in India.
What is your creative process when illustrating? How long does it take to complete one drawing?
I begin by warming up with some quick sketches to get the blood flowing to my hands. If I’m doing fashion illustration, I’ll look up some poses online and start by breaking it down. Once I have sufficiently warmed up, I’ll reference the outfit I’ve bookmarked and sketch out the illustration in pencil. At this point, it’s still rough, so I’ll trace it and then trace it again onto watercolour paper. Then I’ll go in with the paint. I don’t time how long it takes for each one, but 2-3 hours from warm up to scanned image is probably not far off the mark.
Are there any artists or fashion illustrators whose work you admire?
Katie Rodgers from Paper Fashion is someone who’s work I’ve been following long before I picked up painting again. I’ve seen her work evolve and like her, I’d love to be experimental and try adding mixed media to my work. Megan Hess is another artist whose work I just love.
Who are your favourite Indian fashion designers?
It probably comes as no surprise but I’d definitely put Sabyasachi up there as one of my favourites. I couldn’t have been more thrilled when he signed my illustration at the recent Aashni + Co Wedding Show. Some of my other favourites coincidentally have names beginning with the letter ‘A!’ I love Anushree Reddy, Anju Modi and Anamika Khanna.
Great taste Aparna! Your illustrations have received much attention and praise from the likes of fashion designers, Anushree Reddy and Nishka Lulla. How does it make you feel?
My first reaction is usually one of disbelief followed by screaming! Once I have calmed down, I begin to experience a number of emotions. Firstly, gratitude that they’ve noticed my work and appreciated it and a little pressure which in turn strives me to work harder.
I absolutely adore your bridal portrait paintings, invitations and the greeting cards you have created in the past. Will this be ongoing work for you? What are your future plans?
I love illustrating bridal portraits especially for brides whom I know personally. It’s such a unique gift to give and I love seeing their reactions. I recently worked on another Indian themed calendar which is currently available to purchase online through my website.
The next couple of months will be dedicated to working on collections of fashion illustrations. I’m also keen to work on more bridal portraits, so will be promoting that side of my business as well.
Aparna, thank you so much for taking the time out to chat to us. We wish you lots of success with your future endeavours. What’s the best way for people to get in contact with you for custom designed paintings or illustrative work?
They can reach out to me via Facebook or direct message me on Instagram. Email me of course at email@example.com.
My work is available to purchase through my website or via Etsy at www.etsy.com/shop/cuckooforoclour. If you don’t find a print you like there, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Aparna has a beautiful range of photographs, illustrations, cards and a gorgeous Indian themed desk calendar available to purchase via her website, Cuckoo For Colour. Don’t forget to enter the promotional code at the checkout!
For further information, follow the links over in our vendor directory.