2020 has been a year of healing for most of us, and one of the people whose art constantly made me feel like there's a better tomorrow was Bangalore-based illustrator, graphic recorder and designer Sonaksha Iyengar. Sonaksha's work examines ideas of care, body image and gender and addresses subjects like mental health and intersectional feminism. She also uses art as a tool to contribute to social justice movements across the world.
In conversation with Sonaksha about the year that was:
How has this year been for you?
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What was your routine like during the pandemic?
Quite similar to the last few years to be very honest. I’ve been living with chronic pain/illness for a while now so I've pretty much been home-ing from work and working from home before it became the “norm”, like many of my other sick friends. I don’t tend to have a routine, so that I can make space for my body to shape the day based on how it feels. But I like filling my day with work: illustrating, designing, graphic recording; making art and doomscrolling, of course. Um, I’ve also been trying to do the difficult thing of making friends as an adult (hi?). *shudders*
What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome this year?
I think reaching out to people even though my anxious, dissociating, self deprecating brain tries to convince me that I shouldn’t. People in my life are rolling their eyes right now because I’m still really shitty at it, but I’m better at it than I was yesterday? No?
What was one of the moments you were most proud of this year?
Standing up for myself despite the isolation it sometimes brings with it.
Who really enriched your life this year in a big way?
Honestly don’t think I could have gotten through this year without my feminist and queer circles across the world. I’m so thankful for the warmth, kindness and openness that was part of all the meetings and spaces I had the chance to be in. I know we’re all so fatigued by endless video calls, but I also want to take a moment to express so much love for all that they gave me: hearing giggles from across the globe, feeling hugs through screens and so much more.
The book that helped you the most in 2020?
Gender Queer, a memoir by Maia Kobabe really held me through the year as I stepped into and explored my own queerness. I’m so thankful to Maia for sharing eir journey.
I also spent a significant part of the year consumed by Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House long after reading it. Literally couldn’t bring myself to read much after that. It still lives in my brain.
The song you heard on loop this year?
Favorite film/TV show of 2020?
I May Destroy You destroyed me, to say the least. What a show!
A recent epiphany you've had?
To always keep dreaming. I was always intrigued by the way dreams made space for so many possibilities on an external level. But I finally articulated the importance of dreams in my own life: holding me through trauma and illness, and now I feel a little silly that I didn’t see it earlier. But it’s been very exciting to explore this more intentionally.
What is one question that you found yourself asking over and over again this year?
How can we build more spaces with kindness, queerness and access at the forefront rather than as an afterthought?
What’s your number one bucket list item for 2021?
To remember that we are more than what we do.