Chaaya Prabhat

Chaaya Prabhat

Illustrator and graphic designer Chaaya Prabhat’s oeuvre consists of picture books, sketch books, book covers, doodles, and of course, her gorgeous prints. Her designs exude an almost wild but charming energy, drawing the viewer in with the magical depiction of the seemingly mundane. Her romance with art began as a kid since she has been drawing since childhood. ‘As I grew up, I started experimenting with digital art and this eventually solidified into an interest in art and design as a form of a career,’ she remarks. She did her M.A. in graphic design from Savannah College of Art and Design which was a pivotal experience in honing her design sensibility. ‘My course at SCAD really prepared me for handling professional projects with ease, and I was also able to build a strong portfolio. It was an intensive course that forced me to find my style of illustration and taught me how to think like a designer,’ she adds.  

Below, she gives us further insight into her practice. 

What’s the underlying spirit that connects all of your works?
I’m not sure if there’s an underlying spirit, I just draw what I feel like drawing — it gives me something to do and it gives everyone else something to look at. I’m just really happy to be able to do what I love for a living! 

When and how does inspiration strike?
Inspiration strikes at the oddest of times! Particularly for personal work, it’s often only when I’m drowning in deadlines that a sudden need to start a personal project or illustration comes forth. 

Chaaya Prabhat

Could you walk me through your creative process?
Based on the brief that’s provided to me, I usually start sketching out some super rough thumbnails in my sketchbook — they’re usually indecipherable to anyone else. I then narrow the options down to the best ideas and create a more fleshed-out sketch, following which is my favourite part — playing with colours to figure out a colour scheme that works. I take it to final art after it’s been approved at all these stages. This is the process for professional work though, for personal work, there’s no step-by-step process, it’s a little more haywire. 

How has your design practice evolved over time?
I used to be a little more rigid and would focus a little too much on consistency and style, whereas now I give myself a little more freedom to explore and allow my process and routines to digress if it means producing a more unique end result. 

Chaaya Prabhat


How do you choose your colour palette?
Colour palettes are my favourite part. Choosing colour palettes is partially intuitive — I think each person gravitates toward different colours, just based on their personal taste. But it is also partially reliant on solving a brief. For example, do the colours have to look happy for this project or morose? Do they distract from the more important things on the illustration or do they help highlight what the audience should see first? I also always keep an eye out for unique colour schemes in the real world, such as a uniquely coloured plant or a bright fabric, so I can use those as references later. 

How did the pandemic affect your practice?
Luckily for me, I was largely unaffected by the pandemic professionally since I work from home anyway. Being stuck indoors during the initial lockdown actually forced me to do a lot of personal work and look for inspiration in different forms.  

Are you looking to foray into new avenues?
Currently, I’m happy with what I’m doing right now. I’d love to try new things eventually when I have the time but at the moment I’m quite satisfied with the work I’m getting. 

Text Saumya Singh
Date 05-05-2022