Columbus Makes Art Presents Illustrator Simran Khaira
The Ohio Craft Museum’s 19th annual holiday sale, Gifts of the Craftsmen, offers unique gifts handcrafted by over 100 artists from Ohio and across the United States. The sale features work by several artists new to the museum gift shop, including whimsical greeting cards by Columbus illustrator Simran Khaira. We caught up with her to learn about the technique and inspirations behind her illustrations.
Kim: When did you start drawing?
Simran: I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life. Both of my parents love to draw, and they encouraged my siblings and I from a young age to make art. We would often sit at the kitchen table and draw together after school.
Kim: Did you study art in college?
Simran: No, I went to OSU to study Chinese!
Kim: What influenced you to begin creating art full time?
Simran: Making art is something that I was inevitably unable to escape! I had initially thought of going to college to study fine arts, but ended up following my love of languages instead. During my studies, I wrote my thesis on Chinese picture books. I also took a year of painting classes while studying abroad. Even when I graduated and began work as an adjunct Chinese professor, I was always drawing in my free time.
In 2015, I decided to draw every single day for a year, to see if I really could do it like it was my job. After that, I had an abundant portfolio of sketches and doodles that were just waiting for me to do something with—which is how SquidCat, Ink, was born!
Kim: Describe your technique.
Simran: I begin with an idea—either of a humorous saying or a particular image—and I draw a few sketches until I can get the kind of expression that I want. I develop that into a larger composition drawn in pen, and think about what kind of mood I want to color in before applying watercolors.
Kim: What inspires your art?
Simran: I find inspiration for my cards in the silly things that I find funny in my everyday life: anecdotes of my family, friends and pets. Combined with my love of animals, puns and vibrant colors, they are the fountain of creativity that allows me to create art for SquidCat, Ink!
Kim: Finally, where did your business name come from?
Simran: SquidCat is a creature I created that would show up often in the margins of notebooks during my school years. So, as part of the main cast of drawings throughout the years, she seemed to be a fitting avatar for a business that was inspired by doodling!
Gifts of the Craftsmen will be presented through Dec. 23 at the Ohio Craft Museum, 1665 W. Fifth Ave., Columbus 43212. Holiday hours: Monday–Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 – 4 p.m. For details, see www.ohiocraft.org or telephone (614) 486-4402.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art and sharing information about exhibitions, performances, concerts and more at ColumbusMakesArt.com. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.