Even though many people are now in self-isolation, there are still a lot of relatable situations we continue to share. As many of us are juggling between family life and work in these exceptional circumstances, it’s nice to remember you’re not the only one out there not handling it perfectly or having it all figured out!
Shilpi Samson is an Indian artist who makes funny yet relatable comics featuring everyday life situations under the name of 'Survive office doodles.' The artist has been making comics for about two years now, and has an Instagram account with over 21k followers.
Every day Shilpi receives messages from her followers telling her they’re looking forward to these daily slices of life because they make them smile, feel touched, or simply a bit less lonely. Shilpi mentioned that at first, her comics started out as doodles that would let her escape from the monotony of a 9-5 corporate job (hence the name), but nowadays, it seems like the artist has the noble mission to cheer people up and make them smile using her talent and creativity.
Fashion Life reached out to Samson to find out a little bit more about her.
“My comics are about the simple problems which people, especially women, face in their day-to-day life, presented in a light-hearted manner. Even though they are based mostly on my own life experiences, I was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who could relate to them. This in itself fueled me to do more!"
"Over a period of time, we have grown as a very supportive community where a lot of the followers feel free to share their experiences and sometimes I draw them out too. It also gives me immense satisfaction and the motivation to keep drawing when people tell me how they related to my doodles which brought a smile to their face and made them feel a little less alone. I think that’s sort of the point of creating art.”
First, we asked the artist if she had any major influences in her life that might've helped her to develop and refine her style.
"I grew up watching cartoons like Tom and Jerry, Noddy, Oswald, etc. All these had a very simple yet super effective character design and the kid me fell in love with them. I think that’s been there in my subconscious since then and when I drew my character it reflected in my art too.
Closer home, I really love the work of Alicia Souza. Her character expressions and consistency is something that I greatly admire and respect."
Art, in any kind of form, takes a lot of time not only to practice but also to produce. Therefore, we asked Shilpi how long it takes her to fully finish her quirky comics.
"Once I get the basic idea, the visualization, drawing, and rendering usually takes me a few hours but sometimes can go up to a whole day for slightly more complex ideas. Visualization is an important step in the process as I strive to depict the idea in a fun yet simple manner. This usually involves the most back and forth too."
Being an artist is not easy: one can easily encounter a lack of inspiration, burnout, etc. so we wanted to ask the talented illustrator about her ideas for comics.
"Most of my comics are based on my personal life experiences. In fact, these doodles were also a way for me to express my feelings about the different things happening in my life. However, now that I’ve started making these, I also keep getting suggestions from friends and the SOD community about what they would want me to draw next, based on their experiences, and this makes it all the more fun."
As we mentioned before, sometimes creative work can cause quite a burnout, so we asked the artist how she has dealt with that as well.
"The creative work isn’t stressful, if anything it is my escape. But sometimes social media can be an unforgiving place and Instagram’s algorithm can get you down. Artists have to struggle really hard to make their work visible; sometimes it won’t get displayed even to my own followers let alone new audiences. When you put a lot of effort into making something and it doesn’t get appreciated, you feel low but thankfully for me it’s only a short-lived feeling."
We also asked Samson about how people have reacted to her work.
"Given these are based on my lived experiences, most people who see my work find it quite relatable. They are happy when they see their thoughts being echoed by someone else and expressed as visuals. And not just the concept, I get so many messages where people say that the character looks like them too! I am glad to be able to bring a smile to others."
The creative process is not easy, but there are some enjoyable parts about it.
"The drawing bit is the most fun. To draw my character with different expressions and in different scenarios is exciting. Sometimes I act out or make a particular funny face for drawing reference and that’s amusing to everybody around. At times it is also a reminder of the actual funny situation that the cartoon is based on and gives me a good laugh."
Digital art and art, in general, is not easy and requires a lot of patience, time, resources, and in most cases, even money. Therefore, we wanted to know how a talented comic artist started her own career in digital art.
"I forayed into digital comics with Surviveofficedoodles itself. Even this character was initially made as a pen on paper and I used it for personal purposes like writing birthday notes etc. But when I decided to turn it into comics, I knew I had to go digital. This also allowed me to add colors to the comic that started out in monotone. Apart from this, I love to paint on canvas and wall murals and I am also an animator!"
Artists get motivated by a lot of things, so we wanted to find out what motivates Shilpi to keep up her work.
"The whole idea of being able to tell a story through visuals, the universal language, and also making it relatable is something that gives me a lot of pleasure. As an artist, when you make something out of nothing, you do feel a little like a magician haha. Over time, SOD community has also grown a lot and it’s a place where people support each other and that feels great and motivates me to keep going."