We are presently living in the information age, receiving more than our mind can actually process. There are days when we endlessly scroll through Instagram, mindlessly consuming tons of information, double clicking with no memory of what we liked a few seconds ago. In this exciting but exhausting fair of Instagram, you’ll find a handle by the name of @sravya_attaluri and once you find it, your social media experience and probably your perspective to life will start to change. An artist and illustrator, Sravya Attaluri’s art gives solace to the troubled mind.
Born in India, raised in Korea and Hong Kong, Attaluri believes art to be her north star. Similar to a lot of us Sravya Attaluri was exposed to art through storybooks as she later went on to find her voice through visual modes of expression.
“My earliest memories of being inspired by art are from bedtime storybooks! I was probably around 3 so I couldn’t read but I always associated the stories with the images.”
On finding her voice through art she says, “Growing up moving countries, dealing with grief and loneliness, I turned to art to visualize and communicate my struggles. It felt so natural to use art as a form of catharsis for me, but the artworks always received extreme reactions. People either loved the paintings or were shocked to see such dark/taboo topics depicted.
This is when I realised that art has the potential to address the stigma around mental health and communicate topics that can’t always be verbally expressed. That’s when I decided to pursue a fine art degree at university and explore different artistic mediums.”
Sravya Attaluri’s art is distinct in the sense that it centers on specific issues of mental health, feminism and self-care. While these topics are often approached with caution and seriousness, Attaluri’s art surprises. She picks the brightest colours, popping visuals, detailed sketching and bold phrases in order to get her point across. Above all, she keeps it real.
However, while it might seem easy as a viewer to create this blend of art and personal experiences, Attaluri has come a long way.
“My paintings and illustrations originally started out as a diary since I struggle to articulate my experiences verbally but can depict exactly how I’m feeling through my art. When I realized that people started connecting with it, I felt more confident to become more honest, brave and dive into my beliefs further. I’m happy if just one other person can benefit from my art and feel less alone!”
Attaluri’s art is reflective of her personal journey. Although, she is an independent illustrator now, her career wasn’t bereft of struggles. Starting in corporate sector like the most of us, Attaluri soon realised that the 9-6 work culture was hurting her creative potential.
“I realized that as an artist, my creativity comes from having a creative life, having new and exciting experiences that I can learn and reflect on – which doesn’t come from a 9-6 corporate office. I also realized that I need to be working at a place where mental health is valued, appropriate support is offered, and most importantly, creativity and design is valued.”
It is only understandable why her art revolves around mental health. While she does create art on mental health, she makes it clear that it is mainly her way to cope with her own mental health and not to act as a mental health professional for her followers. “Whether it’s digital illustration or painting, art serves as a form of therapy for me.”
Sravya Attaluri’s illustrations are bound to catch your attention and lighten your mood. She describes her artistic process as entirely based on personal experiences and conversations with family or friends, “I usually carry around a note book, writing down little poems or phrases that stand out to me. When I feel like being creative, I usually pick one out of my notebook and start sketching it out. I usually wait a few days between sketching, inking, colouring so that I can reflect and edit my drawing.”
She identifies as a third-cultured woman, growing up in different countries and experiencing a hybrid of cultural influences. This has not only impacted her art but also her experience as a woman of colour, borrowing and interacting with different cultures.
“I feel like I can identify with multiple cultures but also none so at the end of the day I rely on my beliefs and my values to ground myself. I try to highlight that regardless of my gender, sexuality, and race, my voice still matters, I can still make an impact and I deserve to take up space in this world.”
While discussing mental health, her art smoothly intersects with feminist ideologies. For her feminism is “Equality in the way we treat each other and representation in art and media.” “I want to make sure women of colour are represented in storybooks, comic books, animation and fine art. I grew up not being able to see illustrations and paintings of girls who look like me in books and museums and I want to be able to contribute to that change.”
Sravya Attaluri’s page is almost like a magic shop. You can find everything there. From simple self-care reminders to men’s mental health, she creates art about everything under the sun. For her “destigmatizing mental illness, importance of maintaining and managing one’s mental health and increasing representation for women of colour like me in illustration and fine art” are the most important issues.
Also read: Queer Men, Masculinity And Their Mental Health
On pieces close to her heart, she talks about her illustration “I don’t love myself right now.”
“It took a lot of courage to accept my current state of mind and admit that I’m not where I want to be or where I should be. By putting it on paper and manifesting it into a real thing, that thought solidifies and takes form, meaning that I am forced to admit and accept my state of mind. At the same time, it’s a form of catharsis because the moment I post it, I can let go of that thought and move forward with my truth.”
She also talks about the illustration “My only competition is myself”; “[it] is my own personal motivation and reminder that I only need to focus on my own growth. I have a physical print of it in my room and reflect on it daily as I start my day!”
In India where STEM professions are constantly privileged over creative careers, it can be difficult for an aspiring illustrator to achieve huge feats as Attaluri. However she advices, “Don’t be afraid to talk about your art, ask people to share your art and offer your services. It helped me to out working under someone and creating contacts in the industry. Having a mentor will help you go far and navigate new situations.”
A little tip from her and she says, “Combine different interests that don’t necessarily go together! I grew up seeing my style of illustration only used in storybooks, I didn’t think it could be used for addressing serious topics such as feminism and equality but I’m here making it happen!”
In the end, art can be anything you want it to be. Attaluri describes her art as “Bright and colourful artworks with women of colour that promote mental health, mindfulness and feminism to uplift and empower others!”
Also read: Busting 6 Common Mental Health Related Myths!
So, if you are a feminist, struggling with maintaining your mental health in this tough world, this is your reminder to check out Sravya Attaluri’s art and feel your blues dissolve into her bright and colourful illustrations!
—–to address the stigma around mental health…
To address the stigma around mental health you would first have to address those taught and teaching it. That is step one.
I think it’s wonderful to have different artists advocating for positive body image signals and addressing mental health topics.
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