Shaivalini Kumar is an Art Director from India – with a background in Visual Communication Design and Illustration, based out of Copenhagen, Denmark. She helps innovative brands and businesses tell their unique stories in playful and creative ways. Her work has been recognised on various platforms including Adobe Inspire Magazine, Microsoft News, Google, Communication Arts to name a few. Apart from commercial work she creates loves to create personal projects.
I moved to Denmark in 2016 to pursue my career after I got a chance to work at one of my favourite design agencies. Copenhagen is the most fascinating yet compact nordic capital city. We experience long summer days ( during peak summer we get almost 20 hours of sunlight). Danish winter on the other hand can be fairly harsh. (The summer most definitely makes up for it though!) Even though it is a capital city, Copenhagen has a very relaxed vibe. People here live extremely balanced lives – health and family are a priority. Coming from India, this was a huge culture shock for me. In Copenhagen, I learnt to embrace ‘hygge’ – which to me means finding comfort and happiness in the small things.
The best part about living in Copenhagen is, that it is extremely accessible and bike friendly. You do not need to own a car, and the public transport is just flawless. The humanist nature of the city is very inspiring. There is always something to do in Copenhagen – from museums, to pop-up restaurants to amazing design events. The people are extremely warm and friendly. And most importantly, it is very safe. The downside is the harsh winter. I grew up in sunny New Delhi so it was quite a challenging adjustment for me to make.
Coming from India, this was a huge culture shock for me. In Copenhagen, I learnt to embrace ‘hygge’ – which to me means finding comfort and happiness in the small things
Observant, Growth, Inspired
I was always inclined toward arts and crafts as a child, and as I grew older, I gravitated to illustration, lettering, and contemporary and urban art. The culture, dialect and surroundings of my childhood in New Delhi, India, strongly influenced my aesthetic style. Since graphic design is an all-encompassing discipline, I decided to pursue a BFA to understand visual communication more clearly.
The culture, dialect and surroundings of my childhood in New Delhi, India, strongly influenced my aesthetic style.
Though skeptical at first, as pursuing a creative career has it’s own challenges, my parents were extremely supportive. Apart from my parents, my elder sister (who is also in the creative field) really helped pave the way for me – as she had already taken various steps forward in the direction that I was aspiring to go in. I therefore had guidance and also someone to look up to.
In the future – I’m interested in working on more projects that are at the intersection of new media and storytelling. I want to continue developing authentic and personal stories that can be shared with the world. The goal is also to be able to maintain a good balance between commercial projects and personal work – as that keeps me motivated. I want to also be able to collaborate more with multidisciplinary artists and create projects that have a high impact.
In the future – I’m interested in working on more projects that are at the intersection of new media and storytelling.
I would love to collaborate with ceramics studios! I would love to design characters and explore form languages that could lend themselves to ceramics. Some studios that come to mind are Arhoj, Mary Carrol and Takeawei.
The biggest ones are – finding balance between commercial and personal work, and secondly battling creative blocks.
Powerful, supportive and extremely talented.
Powerful, supportive and extremely talented.
I was inspired by illustrators all across the globe. While studying design I was influenced by the works of Helen Dardik, Mari Mekko, Jessica Hische and many more. Unfortunately, I was not very aware of local artists as visual design has always been very niche in India and I was unable to fully discover it. But as time has passed, the design industry back home has grown.
My recommendation would be to create personal projects whenever you can – as they are not only a means for us to express ourselves and find our voice, but can also be essential in helping us build our community.
Today’s fast-paced world and rapidly growing design industry can be extremely challenging to navigate. I have also fallen victim to imposter syndrome several times myself when I was starting out. When that happened, I decided to turn inwards. I found inspiration in conversations, people, life situations and these unique stories about home and belonging became my voice. My recommendation would be to create personal projects whenever you can – as they are not only a means for us to express ourselves and find our voice, but can also be essential in helping us build our community.
I feel at this point I am genre agnostic 🙂 But I do find myself gravitating towards indie, soft pop, k-pop and a bit of hip-hop.
There are so many in Copenhagen, but I think my current favourite is – SASAA (African Cuisine)
Social media can be fairly consuming and tricky. For me, it is a means to put my work out there. I try to manage how much time I’m on it so that I don’t fall into the trap of doom scrolling.
I try to make sure that I don’t post work for the sake of posting something, as that can be extremely stressful – but only do so when I have something valuable to share. This could range from a client project to a thoughtful doodle.
I try to stay in the present by spending time with people I love, and practicing gratitude for what I have.
How do you choose which clients to work with?
Photos courtesy of Shaivalini Kumar
February 11, 2021