Empathy, reflection, humour: This biologist is now an award-winning cartoonist on justice and rights
In this photo essay from the Indian Cartoon Gallery, we showcase a diverse range of creative works along with artist insights on creativity and purpose.
Launched in 2014, PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In the earlier 725 posts, we featured an art festival, cartoon gallery. world music festival, telecom expo, millets fair, climate change expo, wildlife conference, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, and jazz festival.
In a fast-moving and confusing world full of technology disruption, climate change, urban stress, and political upheaval, it helps to have a sense of focus and a dash of humour as well. The importance of pausing to reflect on such issues is well-addressed this month at the Indian Cartoon Gallery’s exhibition in Bengaluru.
The gallery, founded by the Indian Institute of Cartoonists, is featuring the works of the talented and thought-provoking cartoonist Soumyadip Sinha. A selection of these is showcased in this photo essay (see our earlier photo essays on the gallery’s exhibitions from 2015 onwards).
Born in a village in Bengal, Sinha completed his master’s degree in microbiology, and started working at a laboratory in Kolkata. Not satisfied with his job, he started doodling more seriously, as it was his pet hobby.
He introduced his cartoons and humorous illustrations through social media, which earned him instant appreciation. His cartoons started appearing in India Today, The Quint and Sambad Pratidin.
Sinha has also worked on different projects with BBC India, UNICEF, and the Government of India. He is currently with The New Indian Express in Chennai, and is proficient in both traditional and digital drawing.
He was declared winner of the International Cartoon Contest 2023, conducted by UNICEF. His works have also been selected for The Best International Cartoon & Caricature awards in Iran.
Sinha’s exhibition this month was inaugurated by noted cartoonist BG Gujjarappa and VG Narendra, the Indian Cartoon Gallery’s manager.
“I mostly focus on the basic foundations of life, such as humanity, honesty, tolerance, peace, and harmony with nature,” Sinha tells YourStory.
“Such values seem to be unfortunately very limited in society today. People should feel the pain of others, and respect others’ views also even if they may not agree with them,” he adds.
He expresses concern about the loneliness and lack of connection that many people feel today. “Some people are even enjoying violence in present society,” Sinha laments.
His cartoons cover a wide range of themes: children’s health, women’s rights, and respect for the constitution. Some of his works depict social equity, fair wages, and the intricacies of politics and diplomacy.
“I also try to keep a gray area in my cartoons so that peoples can take different views as per their choice. Nothing is pure white or black for me,” Sinha explains.
Describing his creative process, he says he begins by selecting a topic and researching it from various sources to get different views and perspectives. “Then I try to feel the subject from a very neutral perspective. This is the way to get ideas,” he says.
“For generating ideas regularly, I observe subjects very carefully. It's a continuous process,” Sinha describes.
He plans to start teaching workshops on cartooning as well, but doesn’t seem to get enough time for it now. “I am spending more time to learn rather than to teach others,” Sinha admits.
He is pleased with the feedback for his works. “Mostly, people like my cartoons, but to understand deeply they need to study more and need some free time to develop feelings for the topic,” he advises.
“Unfortunately, in today's world, nobody has much time to get to the bottom of these serious issues and act on them. But fortunately, I have some genuine audiences who take my cartoons seriously,” he proudly says.
Sinha feels good artists start from solid foundations. “I believe being an artist is starting from being a good and sensible person first," he says.
Honesty is a very important part of doing anything good. "So, maintain this direction very carefully,” he advises aspiring artists and cartoonists.
“Sinha’s ideas are brilliant and his presentation is very creative. His cartoons bring enjoyment as well as inspiration,” says VG Narendra, the gallery’s manager and curator, and managing trustee of the Indian Institute of Cartoonists.
The cartoonist’s work is drawing recognition and inspiration. "We are pleased with the gallery audience's recognition of his talent as well," he adds.
"Sinha may come across as shy and introverted, but his works speak loud and clear,” Narendra signs off.
Now what have you done today to pause in your busy schedule and harness your creative side for a better world?
(All photographs of cartoons were taken by Madanmohan Rao on location at the gallery.)