Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals

For Obataimu

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals

The Artist
I am a Mumbai-based graphic designer, stylist and visual artist. I studied Commercial Arts (as they called it then) in Mumbai and did a post graduate degree in Visual Communication. After working with multiple design agencies for seven years, I found myself restricted to computer softwares and wanted to get my hands dirty, explore more physical mediums. Design can be functional or aesthetic, but for me it is rather about communication. Earlier I created identities for brands — logos, brochures, packaging, websites, and now I indulge more in visual storytelling through image building like brand photoshoots, visual merchandising, event designing, et cetera. 

My love for nature and fear of the unknown has given birth to an evolving series of art prints titled, Fantasy Botanicals, wherein I design my own plants. I create botanical sculptures by taking familiar and unfamiliar organic elements out of their original context, and give them a new meaning. This has majorly influenced my commercial practice too. I run a young multidisciplinary studio, Studio Lalala, that often uses organic elements as a medium to communicate brand stories through photoshoots, visual merchandising, tablescapes, installations and event design.

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals L: For Le Mill; R: Fantasy Botanical

L: For Le Mill; R: Fantasy Botanical

The Inspiration
While I enjoy playing with botanicals, it is not what I would like to limit myself to. Currently I have a fascination for balloons! I have been exploring balloon sculptures. They have always been portrayed as cute, colourful and for kids. Rather I believe they can communicate a lot more — how about sensuality for instance? Exploring various materials has been a journey that often ends up as a medium of communication for a brand. 

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals Balloon Exploration

Balloon Exploration

Work In Progress
For Fantasy Botanicals, foraging and treatment of raw materials is central to my craft. It involves visiting gardens, farms, markets in different cities, in search of exciting natural elements. Inspiring elements are all around — I could find an exotic flower on a trek up a mountain or stumble upon an interesting dried leaf on my way to work. Sometimes I wait for months to pass before the materials have aged into a vision I have for a particular sculpture. Yet, the final piece often exists for only a fleeting moment before they biodegrade, and are hence preserved as photographs.

This applies to my commercial work as well. Depending on the brief given, we first gather basic ideas and elements. As humans, we're conditioned to make sense of objects instantly. Through deconstruction and juxtaposition of these elements, we strip them off their learned meanings and play with the deep conditionings of our minds. Nowadays, many disciplines of design tend to overlap with each other, and my working style looks to build off such ‘intermingling of mediums.’ Working with different disciplines also allows me to collaborate with various professionals in the design community, which helps in adding another dimension to the final work. I enjoy combining the unexpected, challenging the pre-existing notions and uncovering new aesthetic sensibilities.

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals Prints for Fantasy Botanicals

Prints for Fantasy Botanicals

The Pandemic and Beyond
Considering the quick pace at which projects and assignments were being executed prior to the lockdown, it was a welcome break and allowed some time for retrospection. I was able to use the time to explore different dimensions for my work and define where the studio should focus. I have been able to work on limited edition prints for my botanical sculptures. I also used this time for collaborations with various designers and photographers for personal projects. Such collaborations allow free exploration of concepts, which is really exciting as most client-work comes with a strict brief.

I would like to categorize my work based on genre/approach rather than discipline. The outcome could be anything from a brand campaign to an event setup, embroidery on an outfit to designing functional objects, a frame on the wall to designing a cake. It is essentially the approach and process that drives the projects we have. We are currently working to create a series of objects for homes, inspired from nature. We were also developing experimental workshops to facilitate learning for kids using botanical sculptures. Although, that will take longer, due to the situation at hand.

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals Fantasy Botanicals

Fantasy Botanicals

Priyanka Shah: Fantasy Botanicals Priyanka Shah

Priyanka Shah