Jan 19, 2021
Every responsibility comes from the fact that we owe most of what we have to nature. Beyond 8 and YouCAN foundation have joined forces to underscore the significance of the environment in every aspect of our life. A part of the initiative is the Earth Internship Program to prepare the young learners to avoid and adapt to the unforeseeable environmental changes taking place globally. Beyond 8 learner, Shweta who is currently interning with YouCAN had a lively tete-a-tete with Ashvini Menon , a renowned artist, illustrator, and designer with a unique perspective on environment, wildlife conservation, and sustainability. Excerpts:
Shweta: When and how did you discover your passion in life?
Ashvini: Since childhood, I have loved animals and have an affinity towards wildlife. As I grew up, I realized that I wasn’t aware of the threats they constantly face because of our bid to achieve fast-paced development.In my last year of college, I was given assignments that gave opportunities to speak with environmentalists, activists, and scientists who filled me up with true insights on the subject. That’s exactly when it clicked and I knew I wanted to do something substantial for the environment and wildlife welfare.
Shweta: I read that you created eco-themed comic strips called ‘Ecotisms’ for over two years for The Hindu. How do you think the impact reached the public?
Image source: The Hindu
Ashvini: The impact from these works of creativity is not quantifiable, but I trust I can talk about it in terms of the number of emails I got from people who interacted with my work. Young students said they would wait for the comics to come out every Sunday, some would take out ideas for science projects at school, and many are fans of the primary ideology behind the illustrations. In any solution or social issue tackling, every individual has an important role to play. As an illustrator, I can spark the conversation and I think that’s the inception of the impact. This is something everybody can do.
Shweta: What are some ways people can contribute towards social and sustainable campaigns?
Ashvini: I believe everybody has come down to Earth with a gift, but it is one’s duty to discover it. The key is just to give thought and time to anything you are doing and it will not be long before you come up with a strategy of your own. Of course, solutions won’t turn up right from the start, but if you continue to persist, the fruitful results will show up at the right time. In other words, when people identify their talents and work on them, they directly or indirectly support society. Along the way, they may join more inclusive missions and campaigns that benefit societies on a larger scale.
Shweta: In your opinion, which method or way do you think is the most effective in conveying a social message?
Ashvini: From the angle of Science, any communication that involves most of your senses such as vision or touch will be more effective. In general terms though, as long as you connect well with the person you are exchanging ideas with, the impact of your talk or message is likely to be evident. From my own experiences I know that every time I produce an interactive piece, people are rendered talking about it. To me, it’s the secret - you engage them, you get them.
Shweta: Could you share some of your experiences working in the wildlife that have inspired your artwork for wildlife?
Image source: Visitnt.com
Ashvini: I have been on a safari to Ranthambore National Park in Rajasthan with my mother. I noticed excitement among tourists to watch the tiger. People who could find the tiger were happy and others who didn’t have enough luck had pulled faces. The vehicle controllers are urged to speed up to chase the tiger. I believe there are so many more things of beauty and wonder in the wild to see, observe, and learn from. And a common moral message is that if the tiger is not ready or available to be seen in public, we must respect it and not chase them to the point they get exhausted just to get a glimpse. Here’s another example: tourists tend to think they haven’t got much out of their safari escapade if apes or monkeys didn’t do anything funny or mischievous. From all those experiences, I have grown to believe that we need to change our way of looking at wildlife - and I constantly try to imbibe that into my artwork.
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