Interviewed by Ayushree Nandan
A former student of Natural History And Conservation, Maya Ramaswamy is a wildlife illustrator and a nature enthusiast. She is particularly fond of visiting forests and she constantly blends her love for wildlife with her artwork.
Check out our conversation as she speaks about her friendship with the wild, her projects, and much more.
Ayushree Nandan: Environment and stories from the wild have been constant pillars in your illustrations. We would love to know more about what drives you to bring this spirit alive in your work and how you manage to paint such real, powerful pictures of wildlife on a daily basis.
Maya Ramaswamy: Every human has a natural connection with nature. I just never stifled mine. Also, art has also been my innate, ever-changing skill since school days. I observe nature very deeply and my relationship with nature reflects in my art.
AN: We would love to know what shaped your understanding of the nitty-gritty of wildlife and earth. Is there any experience of yours on grassroots that has also helped you in creating your illustrations?
MR: As a child, I used to climb trees for to pluck fruits and playing games; I used to scale walls and jumping in rambling gardens full of secret spots. I fully believed in the magical creatures of nature.
Tadpoles, toads and flying frogs, spiders, caterpillars and butterflies, colourful dragonflies and praying mantises, wasps, and bumblebees; I learned about different living beings in the lap of Mother Nature herself. My parents never stopped me, never questioned my connection with nature. That love stays with me and inspires me every day.
AN: You have illustrated many splendid characters for Katha’s books about the wild. As an illustrator, how did you manage to ensure that the characters reach out to the children with the pressing environmental issues?
MR: I have never worried about it. Subconsciously, children are acutely aware of nature! Their eyes are drawn to the amazing details in nature especially when those are reflected in freehand illustrations.
I constantly try to keep the characters close to their true identities. I try not to bring human motivations to wild animals. Hence, the illustrations reach out to the children on their own.
AN: How do you usually come up with ideas for your art? Do you also have any 3 AM-thoughts’ for your work
MR: I don’t really get ‘3 AM- thoughts,’ but I often think about my work at 5 AM. I never worry about issues related to my art. They miraculously get sorted after a good sleep.
Yes, usually one needs to visualise the whole concept before putting pencil to paper. But, sometimes sketching resolves the constructions or compositions.
AN: Are there any wildlife projects that you are currently working on? Would you like to talk about them?
MR: Yes, I’m working on a few exciting wildlife projects right now. You’ll find out more about them when they are released!