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Best of Behance: Shaivalini Kumar

By Jenny Carless

Who: Shaivalini Kumar

What: Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration, Typography

Where: www.behance.net/shaivalini

Behance member since: 2013

Shaivalini Kumar was has been artistically inclined since she was a child—she is always sketching and learning from her surroundings.

“I loved storytelling, and I soon understood that words are not the only way to tell stories,” she says. “As a result, illustration and lettering became the way I expressed myself.”

Kumar’s style is vibrant and reflects her continuous striving to find the magic in ordinary things.

36 DAYS OF TYPE

This is the third year that Kumar has taken part in the “36 Days of Type” challenge.

“I love fast-paced design challenges that bring the global design community together,” she says. “They’re good for creative stimulation—and of course, they allow for a huge amount of free play and experimentation.”

Each year, she has explored a new territory, skill, or theme.

“This year, I focused on the beauty of letterforms and on a style that depicts balance, symmetry and beauty in complexity.”

Kumar’s favorite letter in the collection is the M.

“I’m pleased with the contrast I managed to create while maintaining an overall balance—left to right—in the letterform,” she says.

This work demanded a mastery of the blend tool and the basic pen tool in Adobe Illustrator.

“I always begin with a sketch that essentially gives me my base layout; then I digitize the sketch using the pen tool. I used the blend tool to create the multiple symmetric lines,” she says. “The hardest part is detailing them in such a way that the base form is still dominant and balanced.”

Stay tuned for an update on this project: Kumar is learning to use Adobe After Effects CC and adding some motion to the lines.

DIFFERENT PROJECTS, DIFFERENT ORIGINS

For Kumar, project ideas may come from brainstorming, observing and making lists, having conversations, or simply exploring.

“Sometimes I work without any parameters; other times, it’s interesting to work within certain boundaries, as is the case with the ‘36 Days’ project,” she says. “For example, in that project, the challenge was to use lines and modify the letterform according to the base shape.”

The concept for another project had very different origins.

“The Hygge typeface, a personal project, stemmed from my desire to capture a vast cultural concept and visualize it in a way that it becomes relatable to everyone who views it,” she explains.

HYGGE

“It’s been an enriching experience to live in Denmark—a country so focused on design thinking and progressive ideologies. And of course, some new and interesting concepts from the Danish culture fascinate me,” Kumar, who was born and raised in India, says. “For example, along with the Scandinavian winter comes the concept of hygge, which essentially means ‘coziness’.”

She continues, “With Hygge, my idea was to create an illustrated form language that would work within the shape of a pre-existing typeface.” (Kumar used Cocogoose as a base, tweaking it just slightly.)

“This artwork was dedicated to Denmark—my new home,” she says.

The best part of this project was finding a way to contain a whole story within a letter, she says. “I had to focus on making the form language, palette, and structure of the alphabets harmonious.”

Kumar’s favorite tools are Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

“Together, they provide a seamless workflow,” she says. “I do a lot of my base illustrations, as well as some final illustrations, in Photoshop, as it gives me flexibility and an experience close to natural sketching. For most of my type and graphic design work, I primarily use Illustrator, as it gives me a huge amount of definition and precision.”

 

NEW FRONTIERS

Adobe featured Kumar as one of its “25 under 25” artists in 2015.

“That recognition helped my work get a lot of traction,” she says.

Since then, she’s gone on to work with the likes of Airbnb, Indigo Airlines, Ustwo London, and Warner Brothers Animation Studio. Last year, she moved to Copenhagen to take a position with Designit.

Coming up, Kumar and her sister, Asavari Kumar (who work together as Supernova Design), will be exhibiting at Comic Arts LA in December—something she’s very much looking forward to.

She also plans to begin creating a new display typeface in the coming months.

“I love learning new things,” she says. “l’m also going to explore some more editorial design as well as working with newer technologies like mixed reality, virtual reality, game design, motion and much more.”