Lane Split with Mallika : Sneha Yadav

"For me, motorcycling means freedom and motor art is meditation."

Hello art lovers, motorcycle enthusiasts, and motoart discoverers! Last week, we picked the brains of Douglas Thompson a.k.a @TempusDeficit on how his work as a mental health professional inspires his art, motorcycling stereotypes, and his plans for future art. If you missed the interview, fret not! Click here to read the interview now.

And this week, we’re back with another motoartist who is as outspoken about herself as her work is. Born into a background of building practical yet aesthetic machines, she spent a joyful lot of time in the garage with her dad. And when she isn’t creating hyper-realistic motoart, she dons the HR cape for Cathay Pacific.

A person who knows what she wants and what she doesn’t. She’s amongst the top 100 female illustrators in India (2014), with her work showcased at India Bike Week 2019 and Burn Festival 2018… Introducing Sneha Yadav A.K.A Mecholouge!

Motoartist Sneha Yadav

Mallika: I am so happy to have met you at our Helmets for India exhibition in Bombay last year. You told us that you rode 600 km from Khajurao with your husband to see the show. We can clearly see your passion for motoart. How did you get into it?

Sneha: My back hurt like crazy after that ride and I couldn’t get out of bed the next day. I met so many other motoartists at the show that I have now become good friends with.

For me, motor art wasn’t a challenge or a skill to achieve, it was purely out of love for the Motor! I grew up watching my dad work on automobiles, from sketching to building them. All of it struck a chord with me and I fell in love.

Until sometime back, my motor art was about off-road monster trucks & supercars. But then I was thoroughly pushed by my boyfriend (now husband) to give motorcycles a try. I did, and boy, there is no going back now. It’s opened up a whole new world to me. I started sketching as a child, would ape what my father drew, and gradually developed my own style, a combination of realism & messy lines.

Artwork by Sneha Yadav

Mallika: Let’s talk about your father’s role in your art a little more. Is he in the automobile industry?

Sneha: As a child, my biggest influence was no doubt my father who is in the agricultural heavy vehicles industry. Before any vehicle like a tractor is produced, you have to run prototypes. This is where he was involved, in creating the concept sketch, its beautification, and cosmetics while keeping the functionality. I used to watch him draw out different concepts on paper late into the night, work out the exact measurements, and focus on both functionality and good looks at the same time. He would explain engineering concepts such as an A-pillar, B-pillar, how they match, aerodynamics, ground clearance, etc.

Sneha with her father on a field trip

Whenever my dad was traveling abroad, he used to bring back auto magazines and point out artists of interest. We didn’t have the internet at that time, just these magazines from say Hong Kong. I used to try to understand the images and I started building them in my mind, this is when my actual contact with the cars came into being, through car styling magazines.

The only thing that my father always told me is that sketching another vehicle is great and styling is great but nothing will be very concrete unless it has been put to use. So you need to make sketches that are practical in nature, you know that it could be used, not something that looks amazing and futuristic but will not see the light of the day. So you make something that will be practical. He has a workshop where 10 designs are prototyped at one go, he’s after the lives of our denters and painters, the whole team because it’s very difficult to make what’s on the paper. That’s how I was molded.

Besides my father, my style has been influenced by the work of a South African artist Claudia Liebenberg. Her art is clean, to the point & elegant.

Concept design by Sneha of a wheel loader.

Mallika: Dads can be so practical at times. When I bought my motorcycle, my mom’s reaction was of shock and confusion while my dad started ranting off on how I should know how to do the basic maintenance and troubleshooting in case the bike stops running in the middle of nowhere.

So Sneha, what do you do when you are not making motoart? What’s your full-time job? Do you enjoy it as much as art?

Sneha: I work in HR for an international airline. I somehow stumbled into this profession after my MBA. It’s been 8 years and it's enjoyable and pays the bills. It gives me a lot of time to work on my art and it’s the only reason I am sticking otherwise I would have quit long back. You know where your passion lies and you go for it.

Malika: Have you thought of quitting your daytime job to pursue art full time?

Sneha: Every single day! I remember having that conversation with you at the Bombay show and I told you that my husband is super supportive but I do not know what’s stopping me. Every day I get up in the morning and say I'm putting in my resignation but it never happens. Maybe I'm very comfortable in this area where I can work and reach my office in 20 mins. I can come back home sooner, beat the traffic and I have the flexibility of working hours. It’s convenient but at some point, you stop learning and that’s what’s hitting me, I'm not doing enough.