We wrote about our logo and briefly introduced its designer in the “About Us” section of our website. Here’s a freewheeling chat with its little maker on art, aaina, apologies and more!
Some months after the conception of our logo, Ritwika sat down with Aarshiya to talk to her about her art and herself. It was quite a talk, as the reader will see in the interview and its transcription below:
Ritwika: Here I am with Aarshiya Mukherjee, who is the artist of the ACLiSA logo! And I’m going to ask Aarshiya a few questions, which I hope Aarshiya will answer. You will answer won’t you?
Aarshiya (quietly/resignedly): Yes
R: That’s a very enthusiastic yes. Let’s see what we get out of this.
Okay, so you drew a picture of a girl looking in the mirror…
R: and we saw that picture in Team ACLiSA and we loved it and we thought this is exactly what ACLiSA’s all about, so why don’t we use this picture for our logo? And then we asked you to draw a map of South Asia which you found a bit difficult and you were very angry with us because we gave you a “hard drawing” [frequently said by Aarshiya to Titas and I during the drawing process. We extensively apologised by holding our ears in contrition and squatting and standing for as long as Aarshiya wanted us to].
We’re still sorry about that, Boo…and that’s going to be our logo, but we also want those who come see our website and those who join ACLiSA to know about you, the artist, so my first question is, what’s your favourite colour?
R: Your favourite colour’s blue? And why’s blue your favourite colour?
A: ‘Cause it’s nice…
A: Annnd…it’s also like water. (Aarshiya’s inflected punctuation was a question mark but she meant it as a statement)…and that’s all.
R: Okay, so it’s nice and it’s like water. Um, you just drew a picture of a beach and you used lovely shades of blue. Why did you suddenly draw a picture of a beach?
A: ‘Cause that’s what I wanted to draw.
R: Right. And when you were drawing the picture of the girl looking in the mirror, I think the mirror was also blue?
A: [almost a sigh] Yes.
R: What made you draw that? [silence] Um, why did you suddenly draw a picture of a girl looking into the mirror?
A: Cause I told my teacher I want to draw [unclear word] something like that…like I wanted to draw something like that, that’s why.
R: Something like what?
A: Something like the girl looking in the mirror.
R: Do you look at yourself in the mirror a lot?
A: All the time.
R: And you like looking in the mirror?
A: Yes (toothy smile made an appearance)
R: And what do you see when you look into the mirror?
R: Hm, what else?
A: Well, I do see the house furnitures…
R: You see the house furniture, and?
A: And like windows. There are windows.
R: So the girl looking in the mirror was you?
A: No someone el…yes!
R: It was you. Very nice! Um, okay, you like drawing very much, don’t you?
R: Because you draw very beautifully. What do you like about drawing?
A: That, we get to draw whatever we want, actually me, and I like to do colouring, so that’s why I like to draw and I see things and then I start drawing.
R: Wow! And apart from drawing, what else do you like?
A: I like, um…I like…
R: What else do you like to do? I know you like shopping, and clothes, and pretty things.
A: Yes! Also I like to do, um, playing with my friends, annnd, alsssso, spending time with my parents, and, playing games with them – word games.
R: You like word games!? A: Hmhm.
R: And, what else do you do with your parents?
A: I…study with with them, I help them to cook, I help them for…er, getting their stuffs when they’re working and they can’t get it that’s why.
R: And what do you help them cook?
A: Whatever they need to.
A: Like…my father wants, um, dahi so I havewill get dahi from the fridge and give it to him.
R: Hm, well, you like baking cake.
R: What cake do you like most?
A: Well, I do like chocolate but I’m not allowed to have it so that’s why.
R: Okay, you can’t, oh that’s very sad that you can’t eat chocolate. Um, is there something you don’t like doing?
A: Errrr, nope!
R: You like everything!?
A: Er, actually, except for shopping.
R: You don’t like shopping?
R: But you always want to go shopping!
A: I want to play, not shopping, cause it’s only about clothes, and I don’t like clothes, at all. [Contradicted by this interviewer’s own interactions with Aarshiya previously where she has asked to go to malls and selected clothes for everyone in the party, including herself.]
R: Ooh I see…You also love singing. You sing beautifully.
A: [Deep breath] Oh yes! [cue giggles from both of us]
R: Okay. Okay. Do you want to say something about yourself?
A: Mmm, no.
R: You don’t? [No!] So you don’t want to say who you are and what you do?
A [exasperated]: Fine alright! Okay. I(long stretch) do singing, I do studying, I do drawing, I do playing, I do play, and…I do, umm, I do read with my father. He teaches me how to read.
R [whispering]: And my sister. [Aarshiya’s much older cousin is on a mission to make as much a reader of Aarshiya as she herself is].
A: And, also I like to paint with, I mean help with my Mom. To paint.
R: I see. Your Mum paints very nicely. Right.
R: What about your sister? Do you have siblings? [confused pause] Do you siblings? Brothers and sisters?
A: I do have two brothers and one sister. [First cousins]
R: And what do you do with them?
A: Play with them?
Eyes are being rolled at my silly questions; it’s time to wrap this up before I get scolded again by her.
R: I see. Okay. So, do you want to say what your name is? Because I don’t think anyone knows what your name is!
A [eyes rolled, exhausted sigh sighed]: My name is Aarshiya Mukherjee.
R: And you study where in which class?
A: MGIS Mahatma Gandhi International School.
R: Okay, so Aarshiya Mukherjee, our logo artist, studies at Mahatma Gandhi International School, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, in Class 3?
R: Okay, so that’s…We hope you like the logo, and we hope you like this little insight into our artist. We really thought that, because ACLiSA’s all about Children’s Literature, we really wanted to involve children in it, and not just talk about them but talk with them. So we thought, why not get an actual child to do the logo for us? What can be better than that? And we are still very sorry to Aarshiya; we will always apologise that we made her draw the very difficult drawing of the map of South Asia – the outline map of South Asia that is the outline of our logo. We are still very sorry that we asked her to do such a difficult drawing for us and we are very thankful and very grateful to Aarshiya for doing so, for still doing it, despite being very angry with us. We’re sorry!
[Images used and interview conducted with full permission from Aarshiya’s parents.]
Some reflections on our logo and our little logo designer . . .
Aarshiya’s drawing came at a time when we were confounded with the infinite possibilities of logo design. We wanted something apt for our website, something suitable, something “just right” for this fledgling idea of the association swimming in our heads. Yet nothing seemed to quite capture it. I like to think that Aarshiya’s self-portrait happened to us at this exact moment. Like it was meant to. When Ritwika found it in her sister’s collection of drawings the rest of us immediately went: Why Not?! I also remember the collective “YES” glowing like neon signs, unanimously, in our minds. This was just right!
Transferring her drawing from paper to the virtual screen was my job, which entailed digitally tracing her artwork. Initially, I took this to be a simple task. All I had to do was emulate the lines already made on paper by Aarshiya. Yet the challenge was to empty my fingers completely of the normative prescriptions of art in which it had thus far been trained; to abandon the desire for certain strokes that came with habit and instinct and instead, follow Aarshiya into the world of curves and colours yet to be imagined, guided by her linework, conjured only by her crayons. Possibilities and impossibilities, imagination and reality, freedom and cultural conditioning, tussled for dominance in the child’s visualisation. To reproduce the same with any degree of faithfulness, meant to at least try to temporarily suspend my own instincts, previous knowledge or traditional ways of doing art, abandoning the familiar and stretching the boundaries of art-making and representation beyond the obvious or the expected, allowing the child’s vision and imagination to guide me. This exercise of peering into the lens through which the child viewed themselves and their world and reflected the same onto, was to challenge the way in which we as adults are prone to see things, which was the very message at the heart of ACLISA and the reason why Aarshiya’s drawing echoed so well with each one of us.
The figure of the child looking into the mirror – and back at the adult viewer of her drawing, through it – seemed to deftly capture the condition of children’s literature. At first, it was just the self-portrait that we decided to zoom in on, for the purpose of easy identification and effectiveness of the logo. Titas suggested we use bold hues inspired by Aarshiya’s preferences but to limit the number of colours to two or three to preserve a sense of cohesion and synchronicity. True to Aarshiya’s palette, we settled on green for the shirt with a baby-pink heart to match the lips, black for the hair and yellow for skin, foregrounded against Aarshiya’s favourite colour, watery blue. The logo at this stage seemed quite meaningful to us, almost resembling the inner and outer worlds of children’s realities, the spaces they create through art, gazing back through it at their adult purveyors. Yet it seemed like something was amiss! The picture of the little girl looking into the mirror didn’t seem complete. We realised we needed something to frame her, to give her a story, a home. It was at this point that the idea of the map germinated in our heads, much to Aarshiya’s annoyance. After adequate apologies and ear-holding (mostly performed by Ritwika, on behalf of us all) for assigning her such a “hard drawing”, the young artist grudgingly acquiesced and guided by her elder sister, presented us with a beautiful reimagination of the map of South Asia. To strike out against the background of our website, we let the colours from the little blue mirror spill onto the rest of our makeshift South Asia, now decked in the favourite hue of its little cartographer.