An artist by passion and profession, Kanika Jain Gupta has two gorgeous colouring books under her name – Messages from Nature and Gods and Goddesses of India, and one children’s picture book. She also runs an artisanal design and lifestyle brand called Iktaara.
Kanika graduated top of her class from the JJ School of Applied Art, post which she went to the School of Visual Arts, New York, to further study illustration. The seeds of design were sown in Kanika’s life early on. “My design story began at home. My mother is an artist, and I was always inspired by her paintings. She would paint the cushions and curtains in the house,” Kanika reminisces, “And my dad used to bring me all this fancy stationery from his travels abroad. I was completely fascinated by the designs.” Between the time she graduated and the time she started Iktaara, Kanika did have her brush with corporate life. She explains, “I was doing a lot of branding projects that included designing brochures etc. I saw one of the brochures I made go straight into the bin without even being opened, which broke my heart.” Eventually, Kanika quit the corporate life to make more room for creativity. In 2009, she started Iktaara. In the time since the agency’s inception, Kanika has worked on comics, murals, installations, bespoke wedding invites, colouring books and more.
How has her design evolved since she started out? “My first Vipassana gave me new insight into my work. I started drawing a particular way, which has now become my signature,” she tells us. A lot of Kanika’s work is deeply rooted in Indian mythology. She gushes, “I love mythology! Animal heads, human bodies, multiple limbs… it breaks a lot of rules. It’s very visually fascinating.” Speaking of Indian mythology, we ask Kanika about her colouring book. “I was looking at a way to make my work therapeutic, because it definitely heals a certain part of me,” she smiles. Next in Kanika’s pipeline are more books, jigsaw puzzles, wallpapers, wall murals and an ecommerce site where all of this will be available!
How does someone so creatively buzzed unwind? “I go on long walks and drives. I doodle at coffee shops or just do Vipassana.” Kanika’s mindfulness isn’t limited to her creativity and art alone. It also extends to her skincare. She elaborates, “I’m not 100% vegan yet. But I use vegan products. I quit products like leather, and make a conscious attempt to buy products that don’t harm animals, especially in skincare and cosmetics.” So, what’s her skincare routine like? Kanika prefers to keep it simple, “I use D-Derma face wash, suggested by my dermatologist after I had a bad acne breakout. For the body, I prefer handmade soaps. I use a face mist and moisturiser from The Body Shop.”
In closing, we ask Kanika to share her learnings with aspiring designers and entrepreneurs. She says, “As a start-up, no project is small. Grab every opportunity that will take you to achieving your goal.”