April 17, 2014

Kyoorius Knocks: Janine Shroff

By Preksha Sharma

Her personal body of work might raise a few eye-brows for their boldness and nudity; and these reactions became one of the reasons for such boldness in her art. Just that Janine Shroff had witnessed reactions far more intense than raising of eyebrows. Born in Bombay, Shroff moved to London when she was 18. She completed her bachelor’s of art at Camberwell College of Art, London and further pursued her graduation in Arts at Central St. Martins. Today she is a digital designer in a London based design agency; and is addicted to organising files on her laptop. “It’s a problem,” she says about her addiction. Shroff also has an interesting body of personal work where there are many new ideas, some recurrent characters and a few identifiable themes. Here we speak to her about all of it:


A strange Christmas feast with various delicacies to celebrate the season. The framed beard on the wall is Adam Buxton’s. The lamps on the mantlepiece are called Ad & Joe respectively, 23rd June 2010

When were you sure that this is what you wanted to do?

I don’t know if there was any real moment of clarity. I wasn’t particularly good at anything else. I always drew in class. Eventually after a 2-year stint in Xavier’s, I applied to National Institute of Design and was subsequently rejected. Then my parents took me to some UK art university fair and I got into a foundation course. So off I went, clueless as hell.

Your love for birdpeople is old. How were they born?

The bird people developed some years ago, as some characters or personas either acting out things I wanted to do or was annoyed by in drawings and then they just developed from there. In fact they started out as women and now I consider them gender neutral – whatever gender the viewer wants them to be.




Memory is a tricky thing

And your personal work is a lot about comfort in nudity. What is the thought/inspiration?

When I was 13/14 in school, a girl in my art class drew a nude man and a woman standing in a garden. The art teachers saw it and started screaming at her, “You shameless! How can you draw things like these? What would your parents say? Besharam! Go to the principal’s office!” And I think they suspended her for that.

I remember really resenting the teachers who I think should encourage creativity, not stifle it. I think that was what initially made me want to draw lots of inappropriate nudes like a besharam. I also personally don’t feel very comfortable about nudity so it’s also a direct product of that discomfort.


The Tea Party

Your work profile requires working hands-on with digital. And your personal work has a lot of hand-drawn work. What is more enjoyable?

When it’s hand-drawn, it means once a decision has been made and there is no changing it, no changing a colour or an outline. And the effect is much more raw and textured. With digital it’s a little more flexible. Everything can be moved and there are many reversible options etc. The result is a little more graphic and flatter. I really enjoy doing both, they counter balance each other.

What time of the day do you feel most creative?

I’m a night owl, I’ve noticed. In the morning even if I’m up I can’t focus as well as I do at late at night. This is a habit I’m trying to break.

Your most challenging project?

Rape Rick: I had to repaint it 3 times just to get the colour right.


Does music play any influence on your creativity?

Not at all. I love it, but doesn’t get channeled in any way into my work. On the other hand, I listen to a lot of comedy podcasts, which is mostly chit-chat that may sometimes filter in.

Your favourite work by yourself.

It’s usually always the one I’m working on currently. But I suppose I’m really fond of Rape Rick because it’s so personal (and also perhaps a little bit relevant now). I’m also quite fond of Moral Police (an illustration I did for Kulture Shop.)

A favourite work by someone else.

This drawing by Isabelle Arsenault is my current desktop wall paper and favourite. I love her effortless fluid style and soft colours.


And what are you working on?

I’m currently working on a series of personal large works (A1) and am also one of the artists working with Kulture Shop, which is a part of this new movement of curated modern design and illustration in Bombay.

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