Monthly Feature // July 2021
Malvika Ruparel is one of the most talented illustrators & fashion designers in the country today. Her work conveys a complex level of skill as rare as it is beautiful — it is truly out of this world!
Malvika Ruparel is one of the most talented illustrators & fashion designers in the country today. Her work conveys a complex level of skill as rare as it is beautiful — it is truly out of this world! Malvika graduated in Fashion Design almost two years ago. However, over the last year, she has embraced the zeitgeist of the times and grown to really settle into working as a freelancer in the industry. She dabbles into a little bit of everything the design space holds, including fashion, graphic design, and of course illustration. She adds “I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some exceptionally kind people who've really nurtured me as a creative and I am very grateful for that.”
On past work experiences
"I graduated two years ago. I started working at an export house right out of college. It was a merchandising export house so we did embroideries, sampling, and more. That was extremely fun, super insightful, but it's just that you're one little worker in a large assembly chain so there's very little you can do, or very few decisions you can make. I learned and saw how large couture brands function, how small decisions lead to big products. The experience was great but I wanted to grow so I moved on. After that, a friend and I decided to start our own brand — eventually, it didn't work out, but that was another learning experience and it taught me things no one can really teach you. Despite the fact that it didn't work out I really enjoyed that experience.”
“Since the lockdown began, I've been posting my work on social media. I was initially looking for work & it was difficult, to be honest. On Instagram however, I found a community. I was sending messages to a lot of brands and I sent one to Papa Don't Preach. They were one of the three brands that replied. They said they would love to work together and we worked on a little project. It was an illustration of their eyewear from the Radio Gaga collection. The Lockdown Love Story happened after that, which is India’s first illustrated fashion campaign. I am so glad it happened.
On Inspiration & Education
“I think when you're working for someone else you have a brief and you know exactly what you need to do, but for myself, I feel like I've had a period of growth. I go and look at other people's work, I watch a whole bunch of YouTube videos, and when I can't think of anything at all, I just sketch. I watch Anatomy videos and I practice drawing different parts of the body, and in the moment you might end up featuring a butt in an illustration. I don't think there's one process to it, I don't try to force it, it's just that you're working and an idea comes to you. That's mostly how it has been for me. But definitely being exposed to a lot of content, usually helps.”
If there’s one problem that’s very apparent in the industry, it’s the problem of how to value time and creativity. A lot of us are compensated unfairly and most of the time it's because we sell ourselves short. Malvika says, “I studied fashion and that's totally different from what I'm doing right now, but I would just like to talk about design in general. This is a totally different conversation but I’m trying to say that, we need to define the value of a designer's time. How do you determine the value of your time & knowledge? Nobody teaches you that. It took so long for me to figure my pricing out. So I think teaching people the basic standards of the industry, and then how you value time and style, is something I wish I knew when I started out. It took so long to understand the I can actually charge people ‘this’ much. I wish I would have been taught how to go about that earlier.”
On Challenges & Creating a personal style
As freelancers, we find ourselves either under or over-communicating with our clients, there is a lack of balance on that end. It’s not very different for Malvika. “I think now especially, at least for me, everything happens on WhatsApp, it's so easy to give edits, and it's so easy to make everything, informal. I just wish that things were, what's the right word for it — I wish that things were more formal, if that makes any sense, because people are just like, “Can we see that?”. And these are complaints that every Freelancer because, no, you can't see that! There's a whole process you have to go through so you can't just see everything. For me what I like to have is a proper channel for feedback and discussion with the client, I think that's the right way to put this.”
Creating a personal style for most of us is a challenging endeavour. But Malvika has managed to create an exceptional style for herself. We were curious! She says, “I started using this application called Krita, it's like Photoshop but it’s open-source software. They have a YouTube channel and they have a lot of tutorials. YouTube was my university — I just tried to initially recreate their style just to understand how to use these brushes and tools. And that was super helpful, I think I've removed the first couple of illustrations I posted because they were embarrassingly bad, but that's where I was learning how to draw a face or learning how to paint eyelashes. Initially, it was about trying to achieve realism, you can say, and then, once I jumped into Photoshop I realized that this is like a whole new ballgame. There are so many tools that help you make a better illustration. Just the ability to deal with more layers and then you're like, I can actually make some things disappear, I think for me it was all about finding and discovering new tools and what they can do for you. I had so much creating almost surrealist paintings with them?”
On learning & networking
Learning is a lifelong commitment, you have to be patient and just keep going. “I would say just practice a lot. Especially in the beginning when you don't have your basics right, you might think that you can make something really good but, the basics are everything. If I didn’t know the exact anatomy of a human being or I didn’t know to look at references and if I just made things out of memory, maybe the artwork wouldn’t turn out as very well? I also think there’s this whole taboo around using references but you absolutely should! Practice and sketch a lot. That to me is super important.”
Networking is an important part of your career whether you are a freelancer or not. We need to use all the resources we have and today that mostly includes social media. “I have had most of my clients come to me through Instagram which is why I think that it's very important to be active on there as well. And personally, I'm an introvert. I find that I'm very awkward around people. So I rarely ever was active on Instagram and in fact, my work is all I have posted on Instagram. Even posting stories regularly is a challenge, but I know it's important because it helps keep everyone interested and involved in your process. I try to do that as much as possible. I think that is what excites your audience, when they see you making progress and they're like, oh, I see what you did there! Maintaining a social media presence is definitely helpful for any creative right now. I can't stress enough how thankful I am that Instagram exists.”
Takeaways for creatives
“Just have fun. I know that everyone tends to overthink. You know, putting your work out there and getting feedback from people, any sort of feedback, I think is important. Just don't overthink it, just do what you're feeling, post consistently, even if you're not fully happy with it. You'll know, what's working, what's not working and it does make sense to take time and think about it. But, just do it. Put yourself out there."
A little more about Malvika
A font you swear by?
What are you listening to currently?
Save your tears by the Weeknd on repeat!
What are you reading currently?
The Loves of Krishna in Indian Painting and Poetry by W.G. Archer
A popular TV show you recommend binging?
We're always open to other perspectives, opinions, and a good chat over some coffee or tea. We'd love to host a conversation with you, head on over to our Discord and get in touch!
With 🧡 Team WID.