The Best Address

In Conversation with Sketchy Sultaan

Sketchy Sultaan (Amit Shah) is a visual artist who specializes in drawing cartoons and illustrations. He believes that each one of us is an artist, just the art form we are good at, is different. He has been drawing cartoons regularly since 2012. His cartoons have appeared in a couple of books by Indian authors. Sketchy is an active preacher of the visual form of communication which is gaining popularity in digital media and conducts workshops where he showcases how everyone can express themselves using cartoons or visual arts. Since 2020, he has been able to reach out to 5000+ individuals via his cartooning workshops.


What’s your artistic background?

I am a self-taught artist who took up artistic work very late in life. I started cartooning regularly at the age of 30. I do not hold any art diploma nor have I learnt cartooning in a structured way. Since childhood, I enjoyed reading comics, comic strips in newspapers and I remember as a child I used to cut out R K Laxman’s ‘The Common Man’ cartoons from newspapers. I started late and learnt cartooning in a very unstructured way by copying from other artist’s characters. Over a period of time, I developed my own style and for the last six years, I have been conducting regular workshops for kids as well as adults where I preach that drawing cartoons is child’s play and everyone can do it.

What’s integral to the work of an artist?

The life of an artist has changed a lot in the last decade with a variety of platforms available for them to showcase their art, to reach out to an audience that appreciates art. I see a lot of artists struggling with the changing dynamics where success as an artist is determined by how successful their art pages/art profiles are on social media or digital platforms. Creative expression is integral to an artist’s life irrespective of the success, kudos he/she receives.

What role does the artist have in society?

Artists are seen as people who deviate from the norm, ones who see the world differently, ones who express difficult topics with ease. Artists are creators in a world full of consumers, their role should be to influence people to become creators and not just consume.

What art do you most identify with?

I specialize in cartooning and thoroughly enjoy creating characters and expressing a variety of ideas using those characters. I also like related art forms – Doodling and Illustrations.

What themes do you pursue?

Cartoons in general are meant to be humorous and I try to do that. However, a lot of my toons are used to express a lot of corporate communications and messages. For example, I used cartoons to explain the concepts of Agile and DevOps in the IT industry. I also read a lot and try to visually summarize my learnings using cartoons. Visuals are powerful and have a great recall value.

What’s your favourite art work?

I love creating a lot of expressions and variety of cartoon face types. I made this in 2018 where I made scores of characters in an India Map outline. I call this ‘We the People’ by Sketchy Sultaan.

Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?

The satisfaction of creating something inspires me always. I believe, humans are born creators and we derive satisfaction from our creations. Art is my creation, for others it could be music, writing, dancing, cooking, acting and anything else where you are a creator. A pen and paper is enough to inspire me, something that I keep handy with me most of times.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I am an IT professional, art creator and a facilitator.  Art has also made me a healer. In my art sessions, I realized people express their pent up emotions through art and feel better.

Why art?

Art is a medium with people from diverse backgrounds. It helps in communication and understanding yourself. It gives one the confidence and ability to express yourself differently.

What is an artistic outlook on life?

I believe the purpose of human life is to CREATE. Create something that adds value to your own life or life of others. It could be anything, an object, an experience, art, music, food… Sadly, a lot of us are creating less and consuming more.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

I conduct a lot of offline and online cartooning workshops and I get appreciated a lot for the simplified techniques I use for teaching. It always feels good to be appreciated. However, I distinctly remember a couple of occasions that stand out:

1. A 7 year old kid wrote and performed a rap song for me after attending my workshop.

2. A couple in a long distance relationship connecting over a Sketchy Cartooning workshop and communicating through cartoons.

Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?

It’s definitely not lonely for me. I am an IT professional and I have to make time for my art in my daily routine. I like to create everyday and allocating dedicated time for it is not possible many a times and hence I ensure that I am always creating something while I am on work calls. Cartooning is like a reflex action for me now a days and I have been able to multi-task for a decade now!

What do you dislike about the art world?

Art scenes in India have changed a lot in the last decade. We have more appreciators of art these days and that has meant that a lot of people are trying their hand at art as a profession. A lot of them have been unsuccessful in monetizing their work and that is primarily because a lot of people still do not respect/appreciate art and artists. We are a few decades away from times where an artist can confidently introduce himself/herself as an artist and make a decent livelihood being an artist.

What do you dislike about your work?

I love my work, I keep learning, experimenting and am constantly evolving as an artist. When I look back at my work from where I started, I have come a long way.

What do you like about your work?

There is a definitive style to my creations which my audience has also highlighted many a times. Even if my work is not signed, people understand that this is Sketchy’s work and that is what stands out for me, a style that is unique and speaks for my brand of creations.

Should art be funded?

Art is an expression. You can’t fund someone to express. But, yes, appreciate and reward the artistic expression in the right way.

What role does arts funding have?

Art funding should cover three aspects, funding for the materials used which are very expensive these days, fair remuneration for the efforts and creative expression put in by the artist and lastly ensuring that a sustainable livelihood can be made by the artist.

What is your dream project?

I love to conduct workshops and via them I want to reach out to a variety of audiences to propagate the beauty of visual expression using cartoons. My dream is to be able to conduct cartooning sessions for top companies in our country and introduce this art form which is de-stressing, therapeutic, very easy to learn, low on resources and does not require hours to create.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.

I am a creator and a preacher. Honestly, I am not aware of too many artists who have excelled at both. I retrospect regularly and compare my current work with what I did last year and identify opportunities of improvement. For me, art is a life long journey of learning and evolution.

Favourite or most inspirational place?

I love to create on my desk and try to ensure I spend at least 15 minutes everyday on the desk and create something. Having said that, I get most of the ideas for my cartoons while I am taking a shower (may sound funny).

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Do not create for digital platforms, create for yourself, create for the joy you derive out of it, create for people around you who appreciate your work.

Professionally, what’s your goal?

I believe that ‘Everyone is an Artist’ and I want to reach out to people across the globe and showcase the power of visual expression, a showcase that everyone can draw.





1 Comment

  1. Lokesh

    Amazing Artistic


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