Sanjana is a freelance illustrator who works out of her tiny studio in Auckland. Having graduated from Auckland University of Technology with a Bachelor’s degree in graphic design, she worked for a couple of years in a graphic design studio before taking the plunge as a full-time freelance illustrator.
‘Like most other artists, I found myself thinking onto paper from a very early age. Lingering over lavishly illustrated children’s books was a favourite pastime, and the narratives that could be conveyed in one simple illustration or character design captured my imagination. I knew I wanted to do art for a living when I realized that someone had to come up with those illustrations, which sucked me into their make-believe worlds with such solid clarity.’
Sanjana is a product of the hyper-plastic radical pop culture world of the 80s and 90s. Saturday morning cartoons, Sega games, Mad Magazine, Disney animations and ‘My Little Pony’—these things flavour her work with a manic cartoonish vibe. During her nine years as a freelancer, she has also lectured part-time at Auckland University of Technology.
‘Working at AUT had a profound effect on me. I absolutely love working with students and sharing my passion for illustration with them. I feel that teaching really helps to keep you on your toes, as you have to be up to date on everything in your industry. Having to convey certain concepts to others helps to strengthen your understanding of the subject. Lecturing in this creative industry was a two-way street, as I learned a lot from the students as well. It’s amazing how every illustration student had a unique voice and it was a thrill to nurture that voice and help them build up the skills needed to convey their vision.’
After lecturing, Sanjana was inspired to come up with a series of colouring books that had simple guidelines on how to work with light and form. ‘Colour Zone stemmed from the need to share the “creative zone” with others. As an illustrator, a large part of my job is spent lost in the act of painting, what creatives refer to as “being in the zone”. The zone is where your brain is focused entirely on the task at hand, on shapes, colour and light. What if I could help other people experience this peaceful meditative state of mind that artists experience while working? The huge colouring book craze that is taking the world by storm shows that many people are using it as a way to relax and destress.
My book is a bit different in that is has some basic instructions on how to shade and render form, so that non-artists can gain the confidence to build up each template into a fully resolved illustration.
These instructions were inspired by the most common questions asked by my illustration students – how to shade, work with a light source etc.’