Interview by Kim Nagorski
The Ohio Craft Museum’s annual holiday sale, Gifts of the Craftsmen, offers unique gifts handcrafted by over 100 artists from Ohio and across the United States. Each year, the sale features work by several new artists: in 2019, we featured whimsical greeting cards by Columbus illustrator Simran Khaira.
K: When did you start drawing?
Simran: I’ve been drawing and painting my whole life. Both of my parents love to draw, and they encouraged my siblings and I from a young age to make art. We would often sit at the kitchen table and draw together after school.
K: Did you study art in college?
Simran: No, I went to OSU to study Chinese!
K: What influenced you to begin creating art full time?
Simran: Making art is something that I was inevitably unable to escape! I had initially thought of going to college to study fine arts, but ended up following my love of languages instead. During my studies, I wrote my thesis on Chinese picture books. I also took a year of painting classes while studying abroad. Even when I graduated and began work as an adjunct Chinese professor, I was always drawing in my free time.
In 2015, I decided to draw every single day for a year, to see if I really could do it like it was my job. After that, I had an abundant portfolio of sketches and doodles that were just waiting for me to do something with—which is how SquidCat, Ink, was born!
K: Describe your technique.
Simran: I begin with an idea—either of a humorous saying or a particular image—and I draw a few sketches until I can get the kind of expression that I want. I develop that into a larger composition drawn in pen, and think about what kind of mood I want to color in before applying watercolors.
K: What inspires your art?
Simran: I find inspiration for my cards in the silly things that I find funny in my everyday life: anecdotes of my family, friends and pets. Combined with my love of animals, puns and vibrant colors, they are the fountain of creativity that allows me to create art for SquidCat, Ink!
K: Finally, where did your business name come from?
Simran: SquidCat is a creature I created that would show up often in the margins of notebooks during my school years. So, as part of the main cast of drawings throughout the years, she seemed to be a fitting avatar for a business that was inspired by doodling!