Stalking creativity


Having an archivist’s mind and curator’s soul are important to any creative process.

A month back, I got my hands on the year’s calendar by The Doodlers. What fascinated me, about their art was a light-hearted wickedness they brought to their sketches. Furthermore, there was an unprecedented level of chaos and an undifferentiated interception of  shapes and stories.

Such a beautiful art announced itself to distracting levels. So I listened to my hunch and decided to let our readers in on the creative minds behind these beautiful illustrations.

Neha and her creative partners Sameer Kulkarni and Abhijit Kalan, give us a sneak peek into the idea incubation and a drooling list of their tools of mass creation.

What do you feel when you stare at a blank page, before your illustrations take shape on the whiteness of the sheet?

The feeling is a combination of excitement, nervousness, sudden enthusiasm for exploration, inquisitive thoughts around discovery of something unexpected and many a times just plain challenging.

The mind is not always clear about what has to be done. Sometimes, there’s just an idea. Sometimes, there’s just a style or technique of illustrations in thoughts. Most of the times, there’s just a subject in mind. And of course, a lot of times there’s absolutely nothing in mind.


If someone issues a search warrant through your tools and sketchbooks, what are they likely to stumble into?

Like many art-loving people, we are suckers for stationery. Given a chance to spend a fortune in one night, it would be either for stationery, books or toys. While sketching, we are peculiar about our tools. Depending on the kind of illustration needed, the tools change. Some of the brands/products we LOVE are:

  • Rotring Pens  (Much love to those.)
    Black markers – Camlin/Reynolds
    Permanent Metal markers from Uniball
  • Apsara Eraser & Natraj Sharpener (Let’s not forget these two humble darlings)
  • Staedtler fineliner pens,
    Balls pens – Reynolds, any
    Staedtler pencils ranging from HB-8B
    Staedtler water colour pencils
  • Camlin artists water colours and photo inks
  • Brush pens
  • Water-based and oil-based Acrylics

And the reason we use a sketchbook is because it helps us define our sketches. Umm, not like we don’t sketch on separate sheets, but using a sketchbook just makes it more accessible and it keeps giving us a gentle reminder that we need to fill it up even more.

There isn’t any particular sketchbook brand that we use. What matters is the quality of paper should be great (especially if using Rotring pen on it), the grip should be good enough and size should be decently portable.
We have been buying sheets from paper marts and binding them as sketch books for the longest time. Now, we are experimenting with brands like Moleskin; but honestly, we find it expensive.

One local Indian brand of sketchbook that we recently discovered while making The Doodlers calendar was: Matrix Artist Pad. Typical art paper which has great GSM and quality.


What do you love sketching, just for fun?

We have more sketches that are personal/unreleased than ones done for larger projects. Basically sketching has been an inevitable part of our lives, unknowingly; until one day we realised that we should actually start publishing it.
Abhijit is extremely fond of sketching crows. In fact, he discovered his love for illustrations through his signature crows. He has created over 150 unique crows until now and I think the number will be never-ending. Apart from that, he has also sketched a series of elephants and other many random illustrations.

Sameer is brilliant with caricatures, sketches that involve perspective, animated character illustrations and doodles. He is very fluent at doodling on walls with his marker. He also likes to experiment with different stationery and tools while sketching through which unique styles come out.

And me (Neha), well I am obsessed with drawing lady-figures. My mom said that I was 3 or 4 years old when I started drawing them. It has become a habit that sketching eyes, hair and eventually a face of a woman is the first thing that will come out if I am given a pencil in my hand. There’s something about woman’s anatomy that fascinates me.

Stray their work here:

The Doodlers:




A visual leap into Janine’s illustrations.

01-memory-is-a-tricky-thing1The hallmark of a great creative artist is her strength to depict her thoughts through her art, while retaining the dark and twisted elements that often form the pattern of such thoughts. Art is not only a diorama of beauty, but it is often a subtle retaliation, an aggravated emotion, and often reconciliation with the world around, and with oneself.

So it never fails to amaze me how some artists are able to create beautiful versions of their thoughts on a blank page. London-based artist Janine takes her art to a new level of visual eloquence. Janine’s doodles are as diverse as her family of illustrated characters and intimate narrative—gritty minds, pillow-talk philosophers, bittersweet love affairs. “My ‘go to’ sketches are usually faces. I don’t know why but I’m constantly drawing faces, not necessarily realistic ones.”

Check out all of Janine’s beautiful illustrations below and her thoughts on blank paper and sketching.


Moments before my illustrations take shape on the whiteness of the sheet – I feel a bit of stage fright – Where to start? How will it end? So much white space.

On Sketchbooks

“I didn’t really like sketch books for many years, mostly because they felt untidy and messy, or so big that they became time consuming to work on and I’d end up using them for scrap paper.

But a couple of years ago I bought an A6 sized landscape watercolour Moleskin and it looked so neat, compact and professional that I wanted to sketch after a long time.

I rules for myself like: No tearing pages, No leaving pages blank, No scribbling, also an ongoing sketch must be finished before moving on to a new sketch book.

Other things I use the sketchbook for is to experiment with different styles and mediums. It’s also for when I don’t have time or space to do larger drawings. e.g. while travelling or during my lunch break at work.”

Here is a sneak peek of her doodle.


She prefers illustrating on A6 watercolour landscape Moleskins with any cheap felt-pens, black ball pens, Caran D’ache watercolour pencils, or Steadler Fine liner pen.

You can browse through her work here. iusb_760x100.9400452sketch-book-6-full-page


Bright, airy and playful sketchbooks

bppI am reaching out to more and more artists whose work makes me believe in truth, beauty and aesthetics. The way they juggle between their design projects and day jobs while adapting their introvert nature to grow and become business owners is so inspiring.

Last week I picked up a beautiful sketch book made of handmade papers. The keen sense of playful patterns got me curious about its creator. There was something bright, airy and child-like about it. What I loved about this cutely threaded bounded book was that, unlike the kitsch ones you find in market, these sketchbooks were not trying hard to make a point.

Later during the day I emptied my shopping bag and quickly leafed through the pages of the sketchbook. On the back-end of the cover I found the website address

Here is an interesting sneak peek into her design project and inspiration I found at

Verena Schätzlein initially studied textile and surface pattern design at the Kunstakademie Stuttgart, before moving to Berlin where she established her own studio. In 2000 Verena was commissioned for a fair trade carpet project in India; a project which was to be the start of a long-term relationship with the land, its people, and for all its craftsmen.

In the intervening decade+ Verena has undertaken regular projects and commissions in India and makes at least one trip per year to the land. For all the variety of crafts techniques still being practiced in the country is a constant source of wonder and inspiration for Verena.

When you are there and spend all day working with the locals, she enthuse, you get completely different view of both life and your work.

And so it was perhaps not surprising that four years ago Verena decided to start developing and producing her own products in co-operation with a workers collective in India. All the wooden elements in the Salon Elfi range are turned and constructed in India and then hand-painted in Verena’s Berlin atelier.

In addition to the wooden objects, Verena also creates delightful screen printed paper and textile products. For us the Salon Elfi products have a certain child-like innocence, a certain timelessness. Is this deliberate?

“I suppose I tend to think about what impressed me as a child, and about what I used to like playing with. And I have never been someone who has paid much attention to fashions or trends, which has allowed me to develop my style. “

2014 planners that will gaurantee a productive year.

Rubberbrand 2014 Planner

Rubberbrand 2014 Planner

If you asked me to name my favourite online shop for buying stationery, I wouldn’t really know which one to name. I love going to Virgin megastore, Landmark or design studios and pick up planners and sketchbooks that are minimalistic and intelligent. Yet my favourite sketchbooks and notebooks are the ones I spot in Festivals booths.

I picked this Rubberbrand 2014 Planner recently and I am totally impressed by the small pocket to keep cheques and receipts on the back inside of the cover. Smart touch!

photo (13)

I have picked up my favourite planners for 2014.  Yes I totally judge the planner by its cover.

Spiral agenda, Kate Spade


Owls Glitter organiser

00518198_largeBabushka Doll planner by Papemelroti


House of Cards, Jonathan Adler


Moleskine 2014


Travel Journals

photo(1)Day dreaming is beautiful. You can be a vigilante who tends to his bees by the day and uses them to attack the miscreants in the night, a gardener who grows carnivorous plants, a copywriter working for clients from parallel universe… 

Soon after watching The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I was left thinking how similar the character was to me. If someone satirically adapts my daydreams onto a motion picture it would defy every logic in the world. I think I need to start cashing into my zone-out time.

Before I zone out again let me get to the point –  the point that the green colored travel journal shown in Walter Mitty movie has given me sleepless nights. It is a gift from Walter’s dad encouraging his son to travel and fill its blank pages with his stories.The letters ‘Travel Journal’ are etched in golden colour  and the front page has the outline of the atlas on it.

I combed stationery shops and online stores  looking for a similar one but could not find it.  So the next best thing I could think of is the travel journal from my favourite stationery brand Moleskine. Moleskine Travel Journal comes with 5 tabbed sections to personalise and has loyalty cards, checklists, calendars, travel information budget, trip planners, memorables beautifully charted for your ventures. With 5 x 8.25 inches the diary fits perfectly in your satchel. 


I have met many travelers in my lifetime, and I love it when they offer me a glimpse into their travel journals. There is always a thing or two that you can learn about travel writing from them.   I cannot wait to fill my travel journal with bills, receipts, Polaroid photos, doodles, descriptions, maps and sketches during my next trip whenever that happens. Till then I shall perch a tent on my terrace and zone-out to some dreamland. Bon Voyage.

Here is an excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Travel Writing book which was a gift from one the aspiring travel writers based in Cornwall.


Your 2014. New Blank Pages to fill words with.

BPPNew Year gives us a chance to be whole new us. A whole new beginning is a happy state of being.   It allows us to create best versions of ourselves. This is a moment to get real, leave comfort zone and allow the blank pages to shape our year.  Instead of recapping the year let us take the year forward and make those dream projects a reality. Let it be the year of creative discoveries, finding truth and being true.

I want to thank everyone who contributed their thoughts on blank pages. Starting 2014 I want to incorporate all the suggestions I have received over the past one year.   I am going to get the project available for my German, Hindi, Arabic and Polish friends. A good translator tool and I will have a Translate option the website.  I am thankful for all my colleagues and friends who have turned into a family. Blank pages that turned into ideas and dreams that turned into reality.

So there are more diverse stationery products that will be featured on the website.  I resolve to review the best paper diaries and sketchbooks money can buy. I would really like to know your favourite notebooks too. So do tell me here.

A friend of mine from Muscat recently told me to create design column that features Diary Concepts – how notebooks and sketchbooks will be in next 20 years. I am really kicked about the idea.  Do you have similar ideas to share too?

Here’s to all pages we met

Here’s to all pages we will meet

Here’s to you, writing with vulnerability.

Here’s to you being shaped and inked with every word .

Happy 2014. Let all your resolutions incubate to create more interactions with a blank page.

The featured image is the Letternote I picked up last year.  

Immersive examination on blank pages

Blank pages nudge you to create visual chronicles of your mind.   

Letternote_IndianWomen.jpgWe meet  so many people every day. But we just float past each other without really trying to know that other person – what they love, what they aspire for, what makes them the person they become.

I am blessed with friends who understand my insatiable appetite for notebooks and sketchbooks and know that there is no better gift you can give a writer than the gift of blank pages.

This notebook is a gift from flirtingkaapi . It is a soft covered, shrink-wrapped notebook with 144 plain pages and measures 5 in x 8 in. You can document your creative chronicles, thoughts, feelings, hesitations, doodles and brain droppings on its plain white blanks.

This festival season, if you are at loss on the right gift to give your friends get them a fancy/minimalist notebook, diary or sketch book or make one yourself (nothing like going a little DIY instead of heading to a mall). You can buy the Letternote notebook here: