[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet Mounica Tata, who is highlighting crucial issues through illustrations
For Mounica Tata, becoming a freelance illustrator seemed serendipitous. The self-taught artist’s journey began by drawing everyday life and events and the issues we face.
Illustration has become a powerful form of showcasing ideas on virtual platforms, and one name that’s gained in popularity is Mounica Tata aka Doodleodrama. The self-taught illustrator’s name has become synonymous with socially-relevant doodles.
Known for her simple yet conversational illustrations, Mounica has been a resounding voice when it comes to highlighting the multiple social issues that plague the country. The subjects of her cartoons are varied– ranging from guilt eating, life-long friendships, and conversations between her two pet dogs to sexual harassment, patriarchy, assault, violence against the LGBTQIA community, domestic violence, and the political climate.
Drawing as a hobby began to take centre stage while Mounica was doing her master’s in mass communication.
“The college I went to was very strict, and dissent of any kind was not entertained. That’s when I started making comics on college life, the professors, dress code, and the strict regimen. It was my way of containing my rebellion within the four panels,” she recalls.
When she was discovered, most professors let her off, believing that taking offence over a comic would look silly. That’s when she realised the power of visual art and comics and kept on drawing.
Following her master's, the artist worked for an online magazine, a communication agency, and a social media marketing and design agency, before quitting in 2016 to become a full-time freelance illustrator.
Over the past few years, several companies have commissioned her illustrations. She has worked for video streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, merchandised products, and even developed a card game in collaboration with Chennai-based international humanitarian aid organisation World Vision, which spreads awareness on issues such as climate change, child protection, and road safety.
“I saved up my salary and gave myself some goals and deadlines. I am grateful that my gamble paid off,” says Mounica.
While it is challenging and fun to learn and evolve, the artist says there is always the pressure to create unique stuff. “It’s addictive and tempting to be a part of this unnecessary race we have started online as creators to value your work based on the number of likes and shares,” says the illustrator and writer of children’s book Getting Ellie Home.
“I drew every single day for almost six years before I quit my job. And when it was a hobby, there was no unnecessary pressure on my art,” she explains.
At the end of the day, Mounica says, “Whether it’s an illustration or any other ‘unconventional’ career choice, I think hard work, skill, and being true to your craft will eventually pave the way. It is also important to be money-wise."
Edited by Teja Lele