On Friday after work was done and dusted, I visited my family for dinner with also the intention of hanging out with some of the best people in my life. My youngest sister Anjali (the ‘Spongy’ in this article’s title) had earlier requested me to create a graffiti-style illustration for her, after she was impressed with the graffiti doodles I did on my notes when I was at university (before featured on the Half-Eaten Mind).
So we pulled up some chairs at the dining-room table, with Anjali’s enormous set of gel pens ready and waiting. That pack of pens must have had around twenty-five pieces in both ordinary and glitter versions, with plenty of colours to choose. If there is one thing that makes my artistic tummy rumble, it is multicoloured sets of pens. Now I could unchain my creativity and let it run loose around my mind.
While I was guiding Anji on the nuances of becoming a street art specialist on paper and then letting her attempt it for herself, I took a few minutes out to resurrect my own design skills as well.
Although they were quick doodles more than anything, and certainly did not involve hours of tiny pen strokes and a mountain of scrunched-up sheets of hurriedly discarded paper, what both me and little sis turned out was quite impressive. The workshop was not stressful in the slightest. Okay, I did have a cup of milky coffee by my side, but I had a long day at work, so needed a pick-me-up to stop from dropping off to beddie-bye-byes at the table.
Our oldest sister Sherrie, who was also visiting at the time, was very impressed. She came over to see what we were creating in our impromptu design lab and commented “See how many artists there are in our family” and suggested that I would make a good signwriter. Considering she owns and manages her own design and marketing firm, which specialises in signage, corporate videos and websites among other things, that was a compliment from a person in the know.
It was really fun. Not only did I get to spend some one-on-one time with my sibling doing something we both love and are passionate about, it gave me a chance to revisit a talent which has remained dormant as my life is taken up by work and , just well, living.
Firstly here is what Anji made (with a little help from big bro ‘Bijaaay’!! of course)
Anjali’s work draws on traditional New York influences in street art, with elements absorbed from my own experiences with graffiti. I started her off by doing her first name in ‘subway’ graffiti letters and then letting her interpret the design in her own way. She used pencil to draw some cartoony youths in sportswear, helping bring her creations to life with a few whiffs of the old spray paint – the street artist’s medium of choice. Interestingly enough for me personally, the way she coloured in the letters I laid out on the sheet remind me strikingly of how I once coloured in letters for school projects and homework more than twelve years ago. If this is what she is capable of at the tender age of fourteen and at her first attempt at this form of expression, I can imagine what Anji would be capable of when she is older. As we are patriotic Londoners, I added in the work ‘London’ in scratched-in typeface at the bottom of the design (her idea) while she did the ‘UK‘ you see at the top right, as a rough sketch.
…and now what Vijay pulled off.
If Anji Spongy Pudding had her own design agency, producing jaw-dropping artwork for the discerning customer with avant-garde appreciations, this might have well been painted on the side wall of her fancy Knightsbridge office (allowing for the fact that it says ‘Seven Kings‘ – but I can fix that lol). This was one of two designs I made while assisting little sis and waiting for her to complete her grafitti poster.
This logo takes some unconscious influences from Caribbean street paintings on walls with, I suspect, some harking to the days of the Eighties cop show ‘Miami Vice‘ – which by the way, I have never watched a full episode of. I wanted this to be a sunny funny design and it seems to have successfully done this. I used the glitter pens for the fancy typeface in ‘Seven Kings’ and for the waves in the sunset logo. I made the ‘Anji’ part pink, not because the real Anji is a girl (that would be sexist now, isn’t it) but to tie into ‘the sunset in Florida or Barbados‘ theme brought to life by the inclusion of the setting sun. I used a bit of black to give an effect of shadow to ‘Anji’ and then shaded the right of the letters in orange – laid over the pink – as a subtle continuation of that sunset theme and to give the letters more depth.
I used my knowledge and experience of print advertising conventions to put in the strapline “express designs BY ANJALI SHAH“. Inscribed using regular black ink, I also sneaked in a chunk of my own quirky personality into this part of the design.
Time permitting, I could have done one for every member of the family, but time is short and family is large. However I had enough time to immediately create this for my youngest brother Arjun after finishing my previous ‘project’ (motivated by Anji, of course). This time I went all-out with the glitter pens but moved on to a firm influence from real-life design objects like newspaper adverts or business cards for my inspiration. In this picture, little Arjun has his own design firm, the Arjun Arthouse. The goldfish in the photo is not some arbitrarily silly choice. There is logic behind it.
Now our friend Arjun has a very distinctive facial feature. These big puppy dog eyes. That, and his limited stature, earned him the nickname ‘Goldfish’. So a piscine pet with outlandish optic organs was a must-have. To add to the comic effect, I added a speech bubble with the promise from Arjun Arthouse that”We don’t rage quit on our customers!“. ‘Rage quit’ is a term used among my younger siblings and their friends to describe the action of someone abandoning a match on the Playstation out of anger, usually because they are losing…and losing badly. So in the context of this spoof ad, Arjun promises to never give up on his customer’s requirements.
To make this logo more professional and corporate in appearance, I added in a couple of non-existent contact details and a red rosette for the Arthouse that is number one in the design business. Honestly though it took me ages to get that goldfish right. My drawing skills were a bit rusty and I only got old Orange Fins here perfect and non-deformed after the third aborted attempt.
I hope you liked these brief ventures into the world of gel pens and busy minds. It is always nice to celebrate the artistic diversity and commonality in my family and this made for a great bonding exercise too.