God’s Own Malayalis: Bhaghya Babu – The Malayali Illustrator Taking The Comic Scene By Storm

Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” If you really want to understand his statement, you have to get out of the 9-5 rut that’s probably ruining your life. Our recommendation? Pursue your passion, even if it’s at the cost of your six figure salary, eating expensive meals, and buying expensive shit. Don’t take our word for it. Bhaghya Babu, famously known as the ‘Awkwerrrd’ lady on the block, is proof of it. 

Bhaghya is our friendly neighbourhood illustrator who is making everyone’s lives better, one comic strip at a time. She gets inspired by the little things Malayalis are well-known for, including the inside jokes only a Malayali would get. And you know that she’s great at her work when you dissolve into laughter while reading her comics.

If you follow her on social media, you’ll be familiar with her range of customised, quirky products that capture glimpses of a typical Malayali’s life. Ever since Bhaghya started creating quirky merchandise that Malayalis can relate to, she has been a great commercial success. But that’s not all. Bhaghya may be her own boss, but she’s extremely down-to-earth (something that we’d like to attribute to the Malayali within her). Behind her artist facade, she’s the girl next door analysing our actions for her next ‘Awkwerrd content’.

So here’s Bhaghya Babu in her true self, speaking about her way of life and more. 

How would your parents describe you? 

Paranja ansarana illatha kochu (someone who doesn’t do what they’re told) 

What inspired you to start drawing? Did you struggle in your formative years or did it come easy to you?

I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. Don’t know what inspired me back then, but it definitely took me years of practice to get good at it. 

What was your first professional work?

There was a group project in college where we created a comicstrip about a female superhero who was a bus conductor from Bangalore. The bad guys were pickpockets and creeps and she fought for women’s safety in public transport. BMTC came across the project and liked it so much that they commissioned us to create a strip, urging commuters to call their helpline number in time of need. The comic could be spotted on all BMTC buses across Bangalore at the time.

How do you come up with ideas for your strips? 

I literally wait for something funny to happen and then write it down on my notes app. Look at the app from time to time and let the ideas soak in my head for a week. By the end of the week, I have more clarity on what I want to draw.

What’s your warm up ritual before you start sketching?

Make a second cup of chai.

What’s an average day in your life like?    

My life is super uneventful (haha). It’s mostly drawing, making calls, replying to emails and stress-eating. Also, I squeeze in an hour of gym and then just meet some friends in the evenings. That’s about it. #basic

How do you overcome a creative block? 

I don’t. When a creative block hits, I stop trying and take a break instead. I read a book, watch a TV show, go for a walk or talk to a friend. It helps to recharge the brain and look at the idea with fresh eyes. 

We love the Ken & Chip series. What’s the best thing about working on Ken & Chip? 

Working on Ken and Chip is a breeze. Kenny always comes up with hilarious ideas and it’s fun to experiment with the illustrations. The best part of it is seeing how invested people are in the comics every Sunday.

What are your favourite hangout spots in Kochi?

Frenchtoast is bae. 

What’s your spirit animal?  

I wanna say Cheetah cause I read that female cheetahs are solitary creatures who also experience anxiety and I felt that. But in reality, my spirit animal is probably a sloth. 

Which artists or creators do you turn to for a quick boost of inspiration?

Oh no there are so many amazing talented artists out there, it’s hard to choose. Although I religiously follow @poorlydrawnlines and @theawkwardyeti 

Do you have a work playlist?

I have only two playlists on Spotify – ‘Run Bhaghya Run’ (for running) and ‘Playlist 1’ (work playlist). Not gonna share either because I listen to trash. haha

What’s your favourite quote? 

“Roses are red

My name is Dave

This makes no sense

Microwave” 

What’s the most heartwarming and heartbreaking response to your art you’ve received?  

It’s always mixed emotions when people say my comics reminds them of home or their late parents. 

Do you have any quick advice for aspiring illustrators out there? 

Stop over-analyzing your work and just put it out there. You’re anyway going to hate it (it’s the curse of being an artist) so might as well post it and get feedback and improve your art now rather than waiting for it to be perfect. 

What is the one thing you love and one thing you hate about Malayalis?  

Love that we can take any dire situation and turn it into a joke. Hate that sometimes we are overly-invested in each other’s personal lives. 

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Aishwarya Gopinathhttps://pinklungicom.wordpress.com/
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.

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