Manjit Thapp

Meet the illustrator representing everything pop culture: Manjit Thapp

Manjit Thapp is an illustrator based in the UK, killing it on instagram and merging the use of digital creative programming with the pencil. Thapp’s art often portrays popular modern imagery from that Solange A Seat At The Table album cover, to adding the (rly cute) snapchat puppy filter to drawings of girls. Wonderland caught up with her to see where she gets inspiration from, what her favourite TV show is, and what it’s like mixing mediums.

Taking inspiration from a variety of experiences in her normal life, and popular culture such as music and fashion, Thapp creates playful, bold images that translate well over into stickers, which she sells online. She’s addicted to Netflix like the best of us, but has turned her obsession into some sick scene drawings, interpreting Wes Anderson’s works such as The Grand Budapest Hotel in her own colourful style.

What’s your main inspiration?

I get my main inspiration from music and fashion. I also get a lot of inspiration from random images I find on the internet, I like to keep everything in a folder on my desktop so I can have somewhere to go when I’m stuck for ideas.

How did you get into art?

I’ve always enjoyed art but started taking it more seriously in secondary school. My best friend was really good at drawing which made me want to get better!

Do you have a favourite art-related memory?

When I was younger my mum would draw lots of elephants for me and I’d decorate the mats on their backs with different patterns. I wish I still had some of them!

You’ve said before that you use pencil, and then fill in colour digitally. It’s a pretty cool and unusual way of mixing old and new styles, how do you find mixing mediums? Does it give your work a particular effect?

I love the textures that using traditional media creates especially when using pencils and I like to retain that as much as possible in the finished piece. Using photoshop allows me to experiment without doing anything permanent as I can be pretty indecisive especially when it comes to choosing colours. I love to combine the looseness of traditional media with the more refined nature of digital art.

How would you describe your style?

I’d describe my work as having a narrative quality that focuses and revolves around these female characters.

You’ve drawn a collection of scenes from movies, including several from Wes Anderson pictures. Do you have a favourite film director? What films are you most inspired by?

I’m inspired by a lot of Wes Anderson’s movies. I love the framing of certain scenes and the colours, there’s just so much detail in his work from the backdrops to the characters themselves. I also really like David Fincher’s work he captures mood so well which is something I try to do in my own work.

“I’d describe my work as having a narrative quality that focuses and revolves around these female characters.”

What’s your favourite TV show?

Orange Is The New Black, Fargo, How To Get Away With Murder, Gilmore Girls, The US Office and more recently Stranger Things! Kind of addicted to netflix.

Your body of work crosses several platforms, from fashion illustration of brands such as Ashish, to collages. Do you have a favourite thing to create?

I love being able to work across lots of different platforms because I start to get bored if I’m doing one thing repeatedly. I enjoy doing the fashion illustrations because I find capturing someone else’s vision in my own style really fun. Working on personal narrative work is maybe my favourite thing to create though!

How did you feel about the Tuesday Bassen controversy?

It’s frustrating that bigger brands feel so comfortable about stealing other artist’s work. I’ve been a fan of her work for a long time and I thought Zara’s response to her initial email was pretty disgusting. I really admire her for not backing down and it was really encouraging to see how many people were so supportive.

Social media is giving a platform to so many artists now, how has it helped you?

I’m so grateful for social media in that respect, especially Instagram. Since I’ve been posting on there I’ve been able to grow my audience and have had a lot of opportunities and commission work from it. I love being able to stay connected to some of my favourite illustrators and being able to find new artists on there.

There’s a girl featured in several of your drawings. Is it you, and if not, is it based on a real person?

My characters aren’t based on anyone real, though I do feel my work is sometimes subtly personal.

Do you have any exciting plans for the future?

I’m going to be updating my online shop soon with t-shirts and tote bags which I’m really excited about. I want to explore this avenue of mixing fashion and illustration more in the future!

Annabel Waterhouse-Biggins
Manjit Thapp

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