Originally from a post office village near Nottingham, Raveena Hayer is a British-Indian illustration student at the University of Brighton. Three years ago, Raveena was working in a call-centre as a washing machine guarantee salesperson, and found herself scribbling drawings on whiteboards in order to pass the time. In realising her artistic potential, she quit her job in order to study illustration full-time in Brighton.
How would you describe your personal style of illustration? Do you prefer a particular medium?
I would say its colourful, detailed and personal. Colour is important to me, I think it draws people in; finding perfect tones that work together instil images with a richness and depth. Working in a combination of coloured pencil and acrylic paints enables me to achieve this. Despite the elementary nature of this media, my process is not typically quick. I would describe myself as a perfectionist who focuses intensely on detail; I like capturing my subjects with a likeness, and enjoy traditional artistic methods.
Elements of collage often feature in your illustrations, why is this?
I use collage from time to time, it’s a good way of changing things up, layering and experimenting with my own drawings. It’s a fun way of working, but I find it especially useful when I’m experiencing a creative block in order to visualise new ideas. It allows me to come up with outcomes I wouldn’t normally think of. Also, it’s a good way of adding texture and depth to compositions.
Your work primarily focuses on the individual. What is it about the human figure that draws you to this subject?
Humans are complex and interesting, not just as individuals but the physical task of drawing them. Even when drawing the same person repeatedly, the outcome is never the same, you always notice different things about them. I love the challenge of reproducing a person’s likeness, or capturing a personal feeling that can be relived through illustration. It’s the reaction I receive from people; watching people being able to recall a certain place or emotion through my drawings. I seek to probe feeling through all of my work, the human figure plays an important role in achieving that.
Could you tell me a bit about the motivations behind your Gulabi Gang series?
These series of illustrations were for a zine that I made about Indian woman affected by domestic abuse and violence and the respective impact of the Gulabi Gang, a vigilante group who try to tackle these problems in areas where women don’t receive justice. These women are real heroines and some of the cases they have taken on are incredibly heart-breaking. This was a project that I became incredibly passionate about and stemmed from watching the documentary India’s Daughter. The documentary televised the very upsetting tragedy of Jyoti Singh, and inspired me not only to make this collection of images but support the Gulabi Gang’s movement: The Ladies in Pink who are changing India.
Are there any particular artists who inspire your work?
Most of my inspiration comes from my surroundings, people, family and culture. There are numerous artists that I find exciting; most recently I have enjoyed the works of Joey Yu and Lucinda Rogers, both illustrators who work on location to produce lively, refreshing images. Yayoi Kusama also inspires me, an amazing artist who creates colourful, energetic installations. The most recent work I’ve enjoyed is that of The Singh Twins, I visited their Slaves of Fashion exhibition. Their work focuses on history, politics and Indian culture, all of which are themes that I explore within my own work.
What are your future plans for your illustrations? Do you have any ongoing or upcoming projects?
I have always wanted to produce larger scale pieces as my work is usually small and detailed, so taking them to another level is a something I’d like to undertake next. I hope to get the chance to work with other people to produce collaborative projects. I’m open to everything and want to continue to learn and create; I look forward to the future and what it holds.
Words: Elizabeth Richardson