I first discovered Raahat's evocative nature-inspired illustrations online through Instagram. I love the worlds she creates in her artwork - scenes of flourishing wildlife, stories of animals off on an adventure or snoozing in the afternoon sun. Raahat is an illustrator based in Oxfordshire, UK. She has an Etsy shop filled with her creatures and nature scenes.
I am honoured to have Raahat take part in this interview for the we are stardust explores... blog series. The series will see me interview artists and scientists, asking each of them exactly the same questions to the worlds of science and art, their similarities, difference, how they intersect and can learn and benefit from each other.
In this interview, Raahat tells us how her childhood spent amongst trees, pencils and paper has led to her creating artworks to inspire in others a love of the natural world and raise awareness of environmental and ecological issues.
Raahat's website: raahatkaduji.com
"I wanted to create environments, illustrate animals and simply make art that reminded others to open their eyes to nature’s grandeur and the earthly wonder that surrounds us." - Raahat Kaduji
What did you spend most of your time doing when you were little and what did you want to be when you grew up?
I spent much of my childhood amongst trees, pencils and paper. I’ve always had an affinity with nature, but if I wasn’t outside in the woods with friends, building dens and climbing trees, I was inside turning my daydreams into collages and pencilled drawings. My dad’s work in the creative industry certainly instilled my early adoration of art. I have fond memories of family trips to the park where my dad and I would sit with our sketchbooks beneath the trees.
As a child, I never settled on one career aspiration. Aside from wanting to become an artist, I also wanted to be an author, an Egyptologist, an animal keeper, a paleontologist and a storm-chaser! It wasn’t until I was at university, studying English and Creative Writing, that my desire for a career in illustration really emerged.
Why did you decide to become an artist?
Art and creativity has helped me navigate the universe since childhood. It remained a hobby until my final year at university, when my closest friends encouraged me to share pages of my sketchbooks online. From this encouragement, I encountered an incredible online community of creatives and individuals who were similarly inspired by nature and wildlife. Around this time, I wanted to become an illustrator so that I could inspire a love of the natural world through my artwork. I wanted to create environments, illustrate animals and simply make art that reminded others to open their eyes to nature’s grandeur and the earthly wonder that surrounds us.
What does your work explore? What are you looking for or hoping to find? Why is it important?
My illustrations are heavily inspired by nature, folktales and sometimes current events and movements. I tend to explore areas that bring me joy and comfort, which is why my work heavily features animals, natural environments and cosy cottages. I also choose to illustrate in response to current issues like the climate crisis and animal extinction. I think I’m seeking a balance between creating art that is an extension of my own comforts in the hope that it does the same for others, and illustrating work that raises awareness of environmental and ecological issues.
What methods do you use to do your work and why?
"I really love that about creative work; as long as you enjoy the process, there’s no right or wrong way to create art." - Raahat Kaduji
My process consists of a lot of experimentation with both digital and traditional methods. I really love that about creative work; as long as you enjoy the process, there’s no right or wrong way to create art. Though generally, most of my illustrations start life as rough sketches in my sketchbook or on a crumpled scrap of paper. I then scan and import these ideas into Photoshop where I work away on them before refining a final piece.
How do you feel when you do your work?
For the most part, illustrating brings me incredible joy and I’m always so grateful that it’s such a huge part of my life. There are those moments when it sometimes feels like I’m not getting anywhere with a particular piece and the self-doubt can make an appearance. But when that happens, I try and take a break and eventually remind myself that we all have those days and that it’s a part of the process. Ultimately however, creating is definitely one of my biggest joys.
Tell us something life-changing you discovered through your work.
"If you have a creative vision or idea, it’s absolutely possible to nurture it and bring it to life." - Raahat Kaduji
My creative journey has fluctuated with bouts of all kinds of good and bad, but at the end of it all, I’ve discovered that if you have a creative vision or idea, it’s absolutely possible to nurture it and bring it to life.
ARE YOU AN ARTIST? HOW DOES YOUR WORK TRANSFORM THE WAY YOU EXPLORE AND SEE THE WORLD? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS.
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