My logo crystal

A friend Smriti was talking to us the other day about one's life as being a spiral, you start at a source and move outwards from that source, make a full cycle around and find yourself back at a parallel point on the same line. It's the same place, the same lesson to be learnt but something has changed. And onwards and onwards, we find ourselves back at the same place in a cycle but having learnt more and expanded outwards.

All of last year was an internal cycle, looking inwards, drawing all the time, working on Khoya and INK, growing and thinking and changing and meditating. A work Sanyaas of sorts. I didn't freelance, money and everything else became irrelevant. I was creating Inner worlds and I was happy. and chapters were coming to an end I graduated from Srishti after 5 years at the top of my class as Valedictorian, and released Khoya into the world.
Then came the next loop, the outwards spiral- Sharing, Pouring out, rising out of the sea and into the sky like a star. And it's been rewarding too. There's so much love here, first the TED talk went out like a wave across the universe, and from there on it's been an endless flow of articles and outward living. An acquaintance once told me that one must be like Akshayapatra in the Mahabharat- the Vessel that is only full when shared, the second one stops sharing one becomes empty. For the last few months I've been sharing consistently, living that outward life, being loved and loving. But lately I'm starting to feel like this cycle is slowly coming to an end as well. My vessel is full and I am sharing, but perhaps one shouldn't be so averse to being "empty" for a while either.  I feel like going back to this blog that's been my silent haven since I was 16 before followers and stats, It's been ignored since I've started posting stuff on facebook with more instant gratification. I need to train myself to become a Karma Yogi of the digital world, share without care or expectation, and while blogs make it easy to talk to myself and be honest, Facebook doesn't. I think it's a balance a lot of us in the online blog and art world are trying to figure out too : How not to crystallize.
All the talks on Khoya are exciting, but I feel I need to move on before I start to feel like a broken record, even if it's only to Khoya 2. There are new valleys to explore, new interactions to create and other universes within the narrative to paint and see and be before I become into a crystal of Childhood and Magic. These are phases and circles in the spiral. I was much older when I was younger, darker, scratchier, more instinctive but also sadder, affirming negative emotions in my life until it came to a total crescendo of near madness and fear. 

(some canvases from my older work when I was 15)

I was reborn as a child, rediscovered magic and love. But now I feel like I've grown up again and this time round perhaps it's not so bad. Khoya 2 is going to be an exploration of this growth, and newer realizations.  A new wave in the spiral. Relatively older and ready to learn again without expectation.

A photograph from this month's Time Out magazine.

I need to go back to the Source, to re-boot and refresh myself. Find what it is that made me glow first before I become crystalline. 
Hello I've missed you. 

PS- Ironically, this post was saved as a draft for months with all the pictures and videos in but no words:  A Microdocumentary about my life and connections which was so beautifully shot by Ben Henretig of Microdocs, the launching of myself as a brand of illustrated goodies and more. But instead, it's turned into an introspection on innerworlds and outerworlds. :) Perhaps this was meant to happen after all.
Thank you for all the love :)


A few months ago I was chosen as one of five Indian Street artists to be part of residency of sorts called Urban Avante-garde Bangalore with 5 german Street artists. Organized by the Max Mueller and Jaaga, it was amazing. We took over walls all across Malleshwaram and transformed them.

This word "transformed" really does work especially in the context of the streets, an otherwise empty space starts to tell a story, bring people together and create a backdrop for endless photographs and conversations. 
This one is at the Malleshwaram train station and is a tribute of sorts to the Indian Railway.

If you're ever there catching a train- Go say hi to my female coolie, 15 feet tall and beautiful armed with purple suitcase and all. This was done in just 2 days and I really want to do more BIG walls in public spaces now. 

thanks to my special assistants Gayatri Ganju who took me in her yellow Reva with ladders in boot, Aruna C who made those lovely pink swirls on top of the train, Riya Vegas of the Paati eating icecream, Ria Rajan for trainstation company and tall Gabor who helped me reach the suitcase!

If you're ever in Malleshwaram, at 18th cross bus-stand, go say hi to the donkey I painted there! Ever noticed how there are so many donkeys in Malleshwaram? It's quite bizzare to drive by some road at night and see a donkey elegantly poised in the middle of the road under a frangipani tree.

Legend has it that all these donkeys belonged to the dhobi ghat, the dhobhi's used to the donkeys to drop off people's clothing after they were washed.
Ofcourse, now cycles and bikes and more convenient. And so though the dhobi ghat has slowly faded, the donkeys remain as wanderers through malleshwaram street, chewing flowers and trudging along. :) If you know any more legends about these wandering donkeys- Let me know. I think these beautiful creatures should be given the social status of Unicorns. hee


Ask and you shall Receive

Possibly the greatest truth revealed to me this year, is this. Ask and you shall receive. Every single opportunity that has crossed my life has been driven by some desire to Create something. 
A few weeks ago, when I was in Bali: I watched a shadow puppet performance and thought it was completely beautiful. I decided that I wanted to work with shadow puppeteers this year, somehow.
And magically, when I got back to Bangalore, someone I'd known for quite a bit said he's working with puppeteers in Kerala! Going there in September. *excited*

Other lessons too have been learnt. As my life gets more filled with abundance: talks, interviews, press, conferences. I find myself also understanding and appreciating the 
Abundance in simplicity more than ever. 

here's a picture from a my little meditation cove in my room:
Tonight's gathering of gods: incense, sandal, kumkum, fire, frida, flowers, 
small temple bell and only rain outside.  

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:" Matthew 7:7

I am You

A few months ago for woman's day I was asked to guest blog an article for Tanishq titled "I am NOT You",
It was a portrait of a few successful women who had done things differently, and yet I felt like the title didn't fit. 
 it was pretty exciting actually, because I realized how much I missed writing. I'm definitely going to start writing more regularly after this. 
Here's what I wrote :

"I am not you"
This much is true. This article, I’m told is about me. And all the success and love I have found by being me. But what’s ironic is that perhaps the realization that brought all of it to me was ‘I am You’.
I am You. I see myself in everything that shimmers, every whispered love song, every flower that gently finds its way to the ground. I travel in gardens and bedrooms,around corners, through doorways, up stairs, in the sky, with friends, lovers, children and heroes; perceived, remembered, imagined.
For all my growing up years, my angsty teens, I tried to separate myself from you. I said I was a rebel, robed in black, scribbling poetry into my skin while watching raindrops from a distance.
I said I was not you. Cut you off. Broke you down until ‘I’ broke down and then something changed.
The poet Kabir said
The Redness of my Beloved is such,I went out in search of Red, and became Red myselfand this is how it happened.

I was brought up primarily by my mother, also an artist. And so our relationship was set in pigment and pixel. Perhaps the greatest realization for both of us has been that Art and Illustration and the creation of beautiful things wasn’t a process that cuts people off, but brings people in. ‘I am you’.
I am not the ‘You’ that chose a road well traversed, I am not the ‘You’ that didn’t stand up for beliefs, I am not the ‘You’ that chose corporate jobs and black suits. I am the ‘You’ that fell in love, the ‘You’ that remembers and lives the innocence of childhood, the ‘You’ that dreams and believes that these dreams can be transformed into a reality. The child, the dreamer, the mother, the goddess, the lover and in all these manifestations we are one. Cyclic and Moon-drawn.
I started travelling when I was 16, perhaps more fearless then than I am now, and on those countless train journeys sitting by the door of the train I learnt (and keep learning) that perhaps the most important thing is to trust. Trust that you are protected, trust in your own strength, trust that this strength will guide you, that your feet (adorned with anklets and colour) are strong and will not slip, and trust enough to “Let the Beauty of What you Love be what you Do”.
Trust those doodles, those songs hummed in the shower, that poetry scribbled onto your skin, all the drama, because it’s in those that one’s love sometimes lies, in those doodles an artists, that humming a singer, a poet and an actor.


The Sufi's say that between this Realm of Matter and the Realm of Spirit is the Imagination. And through one's imagination we transform the mundane to the divine :)

When I was a little girl, me and my friends would spend hours creating beautiful imaginary kingdoms that somehow we could both see. Towers and creatures and ships that we both inhabited. Both shared without doubt.

I sometimes feel like I chose to illustrate so I didn't have to stop creating and sharing worlds. :) Sometimes when I'm drawing, I feel almost like I'm whipped away into towers where lovers are united, or forests where crows speak and spat out a few hours later by these watercolours wonderlands.

This image was done for Rangashankara's Summer express. 

Speaking of Children: Here are some Images from a Workshop I've been  doing with Kids all through the summer.
It's been super fun working with kids again! The last time I did full on workshops was when I was 16.

These are examples of the journals some of the kids made. More pictures of that  coming soon. 

The TED stage!

This month I designed for the TED Auditions this month in Bangalore. Giant Panels of Red Sarees with thick gold embroidered patterns and giant illustrated panels on silk draped around. The Idea was to bring alive the essence of the Indian Archetypes in the TED quest- they were out auditioning looking for the sage, the prodigy, the artist, the storyteller, the inventor, the performer. And these panels represented the Indian versions of those archetypes.

What was particularly exciting was that chris anderson and kelly stoetzel who run TED were both there! and they both agreed it was one of the most beautiful sets their tour had seen. :) Quite an honour! Chris Anderson when introducing me on stage said "Such a talent! and reccomended all to check out the TED talk. (which if you haven't you totally should :

It all came together very hurriedly over a week in Bangalore. Rushing through rainy streets in markets finding sarees, getting giant panels printed! The giant illustrations you see have been printed on 14 feet long silk panels! they were huge! enough to make a tent with. 


 The Original Design
It's always a surprise designing a stage. (This is only my second so far) and it's such a trip seeing small drawings on your screen turn into GIANT sets overnight. Big thanks to Cigma Events, that does all the production and setting up of these big stages! To INKtalks for bringing the whole event together and organizing everything and more and more. :) Though I didn't get to speak on this stage, my partner did! :) 

More soon and Lots of Love 
Shilo Shiv Suleman

Long time no Sea

It's been a long time since I posted last and many months have passed.
truth be told, it's been a bit of a war between posting work on my facebook page and on my blog.
and the facebook page becomes easier to quickly put up stuff as it's happening and get instant reactions as well, but this space has a silence that I love and started to miss too.
So now I'm back, and promise to be back more often as well. Here's a bit of the backlog.
The illustration above is from a book I'm working on (very slowly) on Yoga positions and chakra flows. (and a may it inspire you to stretch)

'The moon lives in the lining of your skin'- PN
A new long notebook started by the moon-drawn sea with crows and imaginary whales for company 

River Running to the sea. This one is an ollllld one from Pampasutra(look into the belly of this blog and you'll see more images from that book), the River of Hampi.
I hear now that the Bazaar of Hampi bustling and alive with gypsies selling silver and mirrors has now been torn down to be replaced with malls and theme parks. I only hope this stops.

Love and more soon

The Earth Laughs in Flowers

 Wallpaper Giveaways

My last week has been beautifully flooded thanks to the INK talk going on
So much love :) Thank you all for all the comments, the feedback, the joy and understanding.
If you haven't already seen it: Do watch it on :

It's been overwhelming, with over 240,274 views in just over a week! :) 
do download Khoya here as well.

"The Earth laughs in flowers" is an old favourite by Ee cummings. It's been whispered and scribbled in notebooks for the longest time and this December, while taking a digital detox of sorts in Goa, I found myself back to nothing but a paper and the same watercolours that have be friended me for over 5 years. Infact I think I want to spend a large part of this year just painting again. So if you know anyone who you think would be interested in an exhibition, let me know :)
The original watercolour piece or a print is available if you email me

This wallpaper is a special response to all the people who have sent in emails and comments after TED. :)  Thank you fellow stargazers and dreamers.
'I know nothing with great certainty but the Sight of the stars makes me Dream' - Van Gogh
What this set of Wallpapers has inspired though is a 2 week long search for 2 beautiful quotes that I can illustrate and give out as wallpapers,
Leave a comment either on the blog or here and your quote could be illustrated :) 

My INK talk is on TED!

Today at 23 years old on 22022012 my talk is out on on the stage that I designed!!
Forget stomach, my entire body has been taken over by big beautiful butterflies and I am a flutter.
I started my journey with Khoya in search of magic, and this magic found me.
It found me in Love, in Work and in myself and for this I am grateful.

Download it here! 

The labour of love, and many sleepless nights.
and a constant reminder to :

Thank you TED, Thank you all of the INK team and Lakshmi, Shanna, Nilofer, Avijit, Gayatri, Arfaaz, Anders, Inkoniq and everyone else that's part of the big Khoya journey.
Shilo Shiv Suleman

All the World's

...A Stage
and this was mine. my private universe upon which dreams unfolded, chariots took off
and like water moving through a river, it never remained the same.
I designed this stage over 3 months while working on Khoya for the INK conference this year in Jaipur. As their featured artist of the year, the stage, the book and the entire conference became my canvas, a fertile bed upon which my dreams could take root.
Ofcourse, I had never designed a stage before. But we all start somewhere!
and I started here. A lightbulb, a meticulous cutout in paper, and an idea.  

An intricate web of laser cutouts, layers in wood and mdf all hung and studded across the sky with a back projection with constantly changing backdrops. There would not be a moment of static on my stage, the cutouts were silhouetted by two large animations, and over the span of four days, the colours changed, forests were born, clouds gathered and rained upon it, giant butteflies took over the stage and constellations twinkled.

this was the sketch that I'd made of the stage. and saw it come to life. 
and so it was, white cutouts, open to being transformed with light. (and some love).

And it changed, it morphed from the deepest purple skies like you see below, complete with shooting stars and rockets.

to golds and ambers and blues.
here's a close up of the cutouts in silhouette. 

and quite by accident or fate, while watching it I would see beautiful coincidences, as Julie Taymor, director of Frida and Across the Universe (the namesake to this blog) spoke about a setting sun and the Source of all Inspiration, a sun rose over her head. There she was, source of my inspiration talking about her source on my stage. Tears rose and spilled over.

And by my side, helping me along as I designed my first set were Raghava who brought me in and took me through :) Hilary of bubbles and great bouncy ideas, Paddy of crafty solutions to anything and Anil who laboriously got these produced and dusted. Avijit and my mother and more for moral support and Team Oktopus for endless tracing.

 More from the Stage and INK coming soon. :)

Magical Mystery Tour

 The Magical Mystery tour is coming to take you away!
I count my lucky stars that I can make a living doing things like painting buses.
 I was chosen as one of 5 artists from India along with 5 from Germany to work on a Street Art Project in Bangalore curated by Archana Prasad and Robert.  It's called Urban AvantGarde Bangalore and we're going to be painting all kinds of wonders around the city this week! Next in line is painting an old train station here which I'm quite excited about.
One of the many dreams I've harnessed since I was a wee girl was to paint a bus! At one point I was pretty certain I wanted to live in a bus and replace all the seats with a giant bed!
The giant bed bit is yet to be realized but I did get to paint a bus!

Such lovely interactions with the local workshop guys there, one of whome came to me and said 'yeh to sukoon ka kaam hai' (this is a job of great peace and contentment). And it is.

And now onto the next wall. I feel very small :)

We two ours One.

My mother Nilofer Suleman (illustrated by me above) started her artistic journey as a cartographer, and perhaps that's where my journey began too. As a child I'd spend hours watching her pour over those maps and each word would become a gateway into a world full of pirates and shipwrecks and images that lurk in my imagination.

Here we are when I was little. And as the source of my river and the tree of my apples, on her birthday here is some of her work below: and you can see more here:


A still from the Creation Myth of Khoya- click to see details

"There is some kiss we want with
our whole lives, the touch of
spirit on the body. Seawater
begs the pearl to break its shell.
And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild darling! At
night, I open the window and ask the moon
to come and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me. Close the language door and
open the love window. The moon
won’t use the door, only the window"

Let me say this, I am not one for Valentines, red ribbons, cheesy songs and teddybears. 
the greatest lesson for me in Love has been :
Beloved.  Be-loved.   Be love   and Let Love be.

 And my two beautiful and best friends, depicted in the portrait above proved exactly this when they slipped into a marriage quietly and gracefully, without any show and pomp. As if they had slid from one room to another, with no change of costume. A simple and sacred thing. Letting Love be. 

 In other forms of Love, the cd I designed for Jai Uttal, 'Queen of Hearts', a collection of songs for Radha and Krishna was sent across the seven seas to me a while ago. Here's a picture of what it ended up looking like.
I also turned 23 on the 1st of this month, and spent the day alone with Rose wine and Vincent's thick beautiful blues at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam where I went roaming post the DLD conference with my Beloved. Be loved. Be. Love.

We did Munich, Paris, Amsterdam and Berlin as part of a Khoya tour of sorts and it was all that I dreamt of. More revelations and relics from the trip in a post that will soon follow. :) 

and in another form of Love altogether, here's Sufi, my bundle of love when he was a puppy a year or more ago. He's a lot bigger now but his love has not changed. 

and there's so much love to give. and there's so much love to give.