“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.” —Charles Eames.
Annushka Hardikar is a 22-year-old graphic designer and illustrator who has been using her skills to critique and educate.
Her book, “Oh Nari, So Sanskari!” which is a satirical take on the idea of women demonstrated in the Mahabharata, shot to fame last year.
She imagines prominent female characters like Kunti, Gandhari, and Draupadi in contemporary times.
“Having grown up in a liberal family with inspiring female role models, I felt it was a shame that our valued and sacred epics continue to show women in one-dimensional roles, in most renditions that exist today. It was just a good look at what kind of stores we are celebrating today and whether there could be more realistic, feminist adaptions of the same,” says Annushka.
Annushka completed her Bachelor of Design in Visual Communication and Strategic Branding from Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bangalore. She has worked with an animation studio before and currently works in a Graphic Design and Illustration studio in Mumbai.
While Oh Nari sarcastically explores gender norms, her book, Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad, is an illustrated work for children between the ages of 7-11.
In it, Annushka introduces children to the beautiful kingdom of animals with details about four animals that are kept in captivity in zoos.
Her thought behind the book is to generate empathy towards animals and to question the ethics of keeping them in captivity, for pleasure.
All the information in this book is depicted in a sing-song way, with plenty pictures to keep children engaged. The inspiration behind this book came from the inquiry man’s anthropocentric viewpoint. An anthropocentric view regards humankind as the most significant point of existence.
“I began tracing this back to the stories we read as children and noticed obvious examples of this human-centric view being embedded in our minds from early years. This, I realised, over time makes us cold, and unempathetic adults.”
Annushka has also designed three masthead illustrations for the Times of India this year.
This is one of her dearest projects, she says, along with Four legs which, she calls her baby. “I was so immersed in that project, so receptive towards everything during that process. Right from the ideation, the research phase to the execution of the actual book with the poems and activities. It was an exhausting and rewarding time!” she says.
She plans to continue in this field of work because she believes it has a tremendous reception. Although she has just begun her career, she has always been drawn to exploring human habits and behaviour.
“I feel responsible as a creative person to be able to do work that makes people want to question existing beliefs, norms and notions. A project on mental health has been on my mind for a long time as it is a subject that is both relevant and close to me, personally” says Annushka.
You can check more of her work here.