Art is a powerful way to express yourself and also be a medium of social commentary. An artist’s imagination and creativity can create new vistas, and bring to fore both hidden desires as well as our struggles. That being said, there aren’t too many openly queer artists in India to bring forth queer issues through illustrations or art. Yet, there are a handful of them coloring and queering some of the digital mediums that exist today. We tell you 10 of the best queer graphic artists on instagram that you must follow.
1. Priyanka Paul (artwhoring)
Priyanka is an illustrator from Mumbai, and her instagram page is a delight to look at. The page has close to 53K followers, and is our top recommendation to everyone.
2. Param Sahib (parambanana)
Param is a fashion designer cum illustrator. His instagram account describes him as “MAXIMALIST Designer”. If one thing you will notice about Param’s instagram is that he loves colours, the bright ones especially. When he is not posting photos of the quirky clothes that he designs, he posts his illustrations. Many of his artworks portray a gay sikh man and his desires, and he has been at receiving many hate comments and abuses for this as well. When asked what his illustrations are trying to portray, Param says, “It’s just an everyday experience in a queer Sikh man’s life. So it could be funny, emotional, learning moments where being queer is just a part of him and not a deciding factor for him.” It is rare to see artwork showcasing Sikh men in gay embraces or desires. No wonder he has accumulated 30k followers on Instagram.
3. Queer Clitoris (queerclitoris)
Another instagram page with some really cool illustrations. The follower count of the page does gross injustice to this otherwise lovely artist. “My illustrations are about queer love representation, queer people in general (their struggle), mental health and to create awareness regarding stigmatized and taboo issues like sex education, periods etc,” says the artist behind the page.
4. The Effeminare (the.effeminare)
The Effiminare is the art page of Anwesh Sahoo, who was Mr Gay World India 2016. Although Anwesh graduated with an Engineering Degree, his creative mind had him pursue a Masters in NIFT. This multi-talented person is an illustrator/graphic artist as well, and The Effeminare is where he shares his artwork. His page features the commissioned work he takes to design wedding cards/invites, as well as his work depicting queerness. “My work while started out as a representation of myself, and my understanding of gender, has over time become a manifestation of the people and their experiences shared with me. Of course my work still continues to be an exploration of gender, I love experimenting with gender in fact, but the more I interact with people, I feel more fulfilled, a little more complete, and I believe that’s where my art expands. It’s about us, and not me anymore,” he says.
5. Aravani Art Project (aravaniartproject)
Aravani Art Project is a collective movement working to enable the Transgender Community through Visual Arts, Socially inclusive experiments and Magic. The page features wall murals and paintings that are made by a large team of full time and part time artists. “Through our art we want people to know more about the community and create empathy (not sympathy) towards the people from the Transgender community. We also want to share that people from different communities are intellectual, talented, creative and are equal in many ways,” they said.
About their artwork and its message, they had the following to tell, “We want to make a bolder statement of us being present and existing against all odds. Our art also embraces the diversity, colours and culture that are very close to the community.”
6. Veer Misra (v.eird)
Veer is a 23 years old illustrator/graphic artists from Delhi. His work, apart from the queer themes, also features political commentary. About his illustrations, Veer says, “My work is somewhere between creating queer bodies that are intersectional between size, gender from a South Asian perspective and exploring queer mental health and what that can feel like.”
7. Anirban Ghosh (anirban_ghosh)
Anirban works as a user experience designer by day and as a visual artist by night. His work reflects both his queerness, as well social and political commentary. “My artworks range from the mundane to the militant,” says Anirban.
“The mundane ones explore the intersections of gender, sexuality and uneventful regularities of life. These are primarily my reflections on queer everyday lives where the personal is also political, he explains. “My militant works are more confrontational in nature and primarily triggered by anger and a grave sense of injustice. I have been creating art, animations, short films and documentaries since my college days. More recently the Anti-CAA/NRC student protest movement pushed me to create a new series. Thereafter, as the lockdown began and our class inequalities and positions of privilege became even more stark, I’ve been working on my ‘Home’ series.”
8. Arzoo (arzoodles)
Arzoo is a non binary femme artist living in Bombay. She creates artworks based on my feelings, puns, politics, comics, and social justice. A lot of the artwork on her page celebrates trans and non-binary identities, to which she says, “I absolutely embrace my queer identity in every way possible, it’s self care honestly. You’ll always find something queer in my artworks. A flag being represented somewhere or some queer pun somewhere even if the whole artwork is not queer themed.” Sadly, this openness has at times cost her her work. “Not abiding to society’s cishetero-normative standards, unfortunately comes with a price even in 2020. I have been denied freelance commission work in the past for being who I am and I’m terrified that it’ll happen again. The world would be a better place if we embrace the diversity.”
9. Jasjyot Singh Hans (jasjyotjasjyot)
Jasjyot is an Indian illustrator drawing and teaching in Baltimore currently, who is inspired by an explosive neon mix of fashion, music and pop culture. His work chronicles around themes of body image, gender and identity and feature voluptuous men and women, and queer Sikhs too.
10. Opashona Ghosh (opashona)
Opashona’s page features illustrations that explores (female) sexuality and body through erotica and art. “Art for me is not about expressing, rather grounding myself in the exploration of knowledge. The ridiculous journey of trying to find my visual language with patience, love and critical approach has been most transformative in present continuous,” says Ghosh to Homegrown Website.