Catapult Artist “Every moment in life becomes a treasure hunt for inspiration”: Sirin Thada, Catapult Artist for January 2020
“I love that I get to read vivid stories, collaborate and connect with thoughtful and kind people, and learn new things all the time.”
We here at Catapult have been Sirin Thada superfans since her first turn as Catapult Artist last May, when she wowed us with her creativity, her inspired use of bright textures and patterns, her joyful energy and painstaking attention to detail. Sirin is now a contributing artist to the magazine , illustrating a piece or two each month. We were thrilled to have her return as our Catapult Artist for January—the nine illustrations she contributed this month beautifully complemented their respective stories and helped us get our publishing year off to the best possible start.
What have you been working on since your first #CatapultArtist experience?
Lots of fun things! More editorial work (which I’ll be able to share soon); also a few commissions for the hospitality market (I regularly do freelance work for an amazing fine art consulting firm that specializes in art for hotels). I launched my first collection of tees in my online shop, and can’t wait to do more! I was also able to spend a month living in Wyoming, working on a paleontology dig and gathering lots of inspiration for paintings to come.
And, of course, being able to contribute to Catapult regularly has been a dream come true for me. Reading work by such a talented bunch of writers is my favorite part of the process.
How about other work—can you share about a few of your favorite non-commercial projects?
I’m still working through concepts and making studies for my next series of paintings inspired during our time in Wyoming . I’m also slowly but surely cultivating a series of little bird collages housed in antique wood boxes (my husband and I love hiking and birdwatching whenever we can). And finally, I’m looking forward to getting back into a regular schedule with #OurColorfulMoments , starting in February.
I love your #OurColorfulMoments portrait/interview series. (I’ve had the honor of being drawn by you, as has my colleague Matt Ortile.) Why did you decide to start this project?
I’ve always loved doing crowd-sourced, collaborative projects. They’re a chance for me to interact with and connect on a deeper level with my internet family, and I love being able to read and share other people’s stories. My first project was I stole this from you , where I collected and illustrated stories about sentimental objects and souvenirs.
As my art style evolved, I wanted to branch out from simply drawing objects on a white background. Early 2018 was when I started #OurColorfulMoments, and it looked quite different back then. I was still new to editorial illustration, so I created the project as a way to jump headfirst into the field, and become more proficient at using Illustrator. I basically made my own little assignments by asking the participant a question, and then illustrating their answers, five days a week.
As I grew more comfortable with the process, I decided to take the project in a different direction, and focus on creating stylized portraits on a weekly basis. It was another area I wanted to grow in, as up until then I was really only good at rendering in a realistic graphite or watercolor look. It allowed me to explore different media and techniques, and also bond with internet friends and colleagues—which will always be the heart of the project. Without each friend who was willing to invest their time and share their stories, the project couldn’t exist! I’m always very grateful for that.
How has your creative process changed over time?
My process is constantly evolving, and I’m always trying to find ways to work more efficiently. I started out doing everything by hand only, and for some projects (the hotel commissions in particular), that is still how I work. For editorial illustration, lately I’ve been doing a hybrid process of hand-created elements, plus digital layering with both Procreate and Photoshop. Going digital is very helpful for tight deadlines, and makes changes much easier, of course. But now that I have a little bit of a breather coming up, I’m looking forward to slowing down, working more by hand again, and refining my “toolkit.” Working with my hands and creating actual, physical art, will always be my first love, and I don’t want to stray too far from that.
Photograph courtesy of Sirin Thada
Are you working in any mediums that are newer to you? Are there any you’d really like to try out?
I’ve been playing with linocuts, and definitely want to start incorporating some of that into my editorial illustration practice. Procreate is also a relatively new part of my digital toolkit, and is great especially when working on the road.
But what I’m really excited about for 2020 is taking all these different methods I’ve been practicing for years and fine-tuning this mixed-media style I’ve settled into—taking it to the next level. More bird collages. Bigger paintings, inspired by Wyoming. And of course, any time I start working on something for myself, it inevitably influences my commercial work, too.
What do you love most about your work as an artist?
I love the variety. I love the fact that every project is a different challenge. I love that I get to read brilliant articles and vivid stories, collaborate and connect with thoughtful and kind people, and learn new things all the time.
There are always new techniques or media to try, new paths to explore, new ways of thinking and seeing and appreciating. Every moment in life becomes a treasure hunt for inspiration—even something as mundane as walking my pup, Indie, through the park becomes a seed for an idea or a spark for a vision.