Mira is an illustrator who makes a difference in the world through her high impact comics strips, graphic designs, stickers and merchandise designs.
Mira Felicia Malhotra is the Creative Director of Studio Kohl( Boutique Graphic Design Studio) who specializes in graphic designs, illustrations, comic book strips, and her diverse creative efforts. She makes a conscientious effort to highlight important causes like disability, lgbtqia+, gender equality, environmental conversations through her collaborative hard-hitting designs. Her new kokumkohla website is in the works and is soon to be launched which will feature her unique artistic thumbprint.
How did you start the process of creating illustrations and where did you acquire the creative masterstroke of being an illustrator?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: Honestly, it was because I liked cartoons growing up and I still do. Some of my favorite cartoons that I still enjoy watching are “Betty Boop” and “Bugs Bunny”. My parents were encouraging and said I had an “artistic temperament”. My favorite thing was to copy cartoon characters and create my characters. I always drew on anything I could find including my own body hahaha.
How does it feel when you witness your designs come to life on products in your collaboration with the Kulture Shop India?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: It always feels great to see your ideas out there in the real world. Sometimes if I’m being hypocritical, I’ll see all the flaws of my work and imagine how I could do better. But seeing people buy and use products that bear my work is very satisfying.
How does your creative process differ when you work with art collectives/ studios versus independent artists?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: With collectives and studios, we usually have more structure and predictability and break it down into more steps. Whereas with independent artists, there is more exploration, freedom, and space for aha moments.
Mira Felicia Malhotra: Many people create artwork or illustrations as self-expression or display of skill. Whereas my focus is on narration, storytelling or communication. Specifically, for me, being able to express an idea through a social good cause elevates what I do. And for those who think illustration is frivolous as often is the case in India, being able to do this shows just how much weight an illustration can carry.
As a proud indie designer who celebrates the intersectionality of womanhood into your artwork, what advice do you have for the new generation of artists who want to do the same?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: My advice would be to form support groups with other like-minded women and find ways to channel your own experiences in your work. If you work with an author, first establish an understanding of context, why the work matters and to whom, before you even start sketching.
How was it to work with the principal faculty of the National Institute of Design (Dr Shilppa Das) on the Bystander Comic for the Kadak Collective?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: As my former faculty she is amazing. Mainly, her wealth of experience lends the story so much weight. As someone who deeply understands and has researched disability and mental health, her story was so liberating and genuine. The experience of collaborating with her is one of extreme ease. She gave me a movie script-style story which I translated into a wordless comic.
Being a part of Oxfam International’s Global “Say Enough” Campaign, what changes do you hope to bring to society through your artwork?
Mira Malhotra: I have always hoped to lend a helping hand visually through illustrations that represent interesting and different points of view of reality as well as the perspective of women. Mainly, because not enough emphasis is put on what women’s voices can do and I am happy to offer a creative medium to articulate those voices.
What are the attributes that attract you to art collectives and other visual artists that you have worked with?
Mira Felicia Malhotra: Mainly, the depth and quality of their message combined with the content. Along with a unique visual style that they hope to channel.
What do you hope to achieve and change in society through your creative endeavours?
Mira Malhotra: I hope to be able to draw and illustrate experiences that have never been seen before in the mainstream diaspora. And the experiences we all know but to be experienced from a different vantage point. I believe very much in alternative and DIY (Do It Yourself) cultures that offer a different angle to the world. As opposed to what the mainstream generally offers.