"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.
Mallika: I get what you mean. I worked as a hardware engineer for almost 10 years before quitting a few years ago. I used to spend all my evenings after work and weekends making and selling art. Eventually juggling both things became difficult as my heart pulled me more and more towards painting. Some days are tough being a full-time working artist but I’m happy I did it. At least I won’t have any regrets in the future.
How does the pursuit of art support you financially?
Sneha: I’ve got some amazing offers for commissions in the past that have paid very well. There are other days when it is a complete dud. It just depends on the market and whether people are willing to spend on art or not. The days when I will not be getting these offers will be the days I will be struggling to pay my bills. The commissions are like the cherry on the cake, it’s going all into my savings and investing back into my art.
I generally get a lot of work from digital marketing agencies. Sometimes they want art for their brochures. For example, I did a couple of illustrations for some premium motorcycle brands. I also get commissioned to make fan art for influencers. It pays for materials and other expenses but the main thing is that I’m able to do it.
Clockwise from top left: Sneha with Andrea Dovizioso and his portrait, Aaron Colton and his portrait, fan art of Robbie Maddison, C S Santosh and Valentino Rossi.
Malika: That is so cool! What’s the story behind your moniker, Mechologue?
Sneha: I was trying to find a cool name for a motor art compilation. like a catalogue where you can see my designs. I purely love automobiles, anything that has a motor in it. So came mechanical + catalogue = mechologue.
Sneha Yadav with her pooch and art at IBW 2017
“Rather than killing yourself trying to be perfect, how about you make your own style, develop something that speaks about you. One look and you should know that it’s my sketch.”
Mallika: What does your studio practice look like?
Sneha: Generally, my studio practice involves a considerable amount of research, setting the mood & the tones, deciding on the mediums to begin with. The materials that I often use are fine liners, markers, and watercolors. I do boxed canvases mostly and watercolor paper because I like the feeling that watercolors give. On average I spend at least 6 hrs on each artwork. On a recent sketch, I spent 18 hrs.
I am also now venturing into digital art. I just finished a digital sketch that I posted on Instagram for people to use as an adult coloring book. Around 50 people asked me about it and I was very happy that there were 50 people asking me about motor art. A lot of them were women and I felt really really nice to see so many people signing up for something like that. I got many emails later asking to create a coloring book drawing for a KTM or a Royal Enfield. So maybe one day I will come up with my own adult coloring book.
For me, motorcycling means freedom and motor art is meditation. The only thought behind each artwork is that it has to be less than perfect to be beautiful in its own way. My motor art gets me solace if that is counted as an emotion. It's got more to do with peace and being zen. My preferred brands are any day BMW, Triumph & Ducati. Superbikes & cafe racers are my thing. I make them often.
Sneha working on paper and on her husband's Ducati.
FREE coloring book drawing on Sneha's instagram account.
Malika: That’s a really interesting point you just brought up. Can you elaborate a bit more on “Less than perfect”?
Sneha: I have many people who message me asking how I manage to get this done. Why do I spend 18 hrs on drawing? It’s basically very subjective. I don’t like to sabotage what I'm making but I like to make it different from the photograph. You’ll have the same essence of the photo but it won’t be a photo. It’s not going to be the exact thing, and I don't want to aim for the exact thing because you lose yourself.
Rather than killing yourself trying to be perfect, how about you make your own style, develop something that speaks about you. One look and you should know that it’s my sketch. It has something that belongs to you. It has your essence in it.
Mallika: We understand you have a challenge you are dealing with presently that you are not very happy about. Can you tell us more in the hope that it may help other motoartists?
Sneha: Another artist has taken my style, my clients, and my work. This person has copied everything right from the captions to hashtags. It happens, I get it. Everybody has to look up to somebody else. But I felt this person was outrightly stealing my content and has even put up a story highlight as motologue. I have called it out twice now on social media so now this person has started doing motoart for free. This is where the business takes a hit. This person has taken images from other artists and outrightly put them up on their wall as well.
Mallika: That is terrible but unfortunately it’s something all creative people have to deal with at some point. The world is full of plagiarism and copying. The only consolation is that good quality work always stands out. At the end of the day, the clients asking for free work neither value you as an artist nor your work, and the clients who value quality will recognize your efforts and come back to you.
Do you have any wise words for other up and coming motoartists?
Sneha: My only piece of advice to the artists struggling with Motor Art - is to find your own style, and to develop it rather than just copying other artists.
Thank you for tuning into the conversation with the talented Sneha Yadav a.k.a Mechologue. Also, we’re both happy and excited to report that a few weeks after this chat, Sneha did indeed quit her HR job and is now pursuing her art career with full throttle! You can check out her art on her Instagram handle @mechologue.
So, that’s that. Another interesting motoartist, and another delightful conversation. We’ll be back next week with the next artist we’re interviewing as part of ‘Lane Split with Mallika’, an exclusive motoartist interview series.
Stay tuned on our Instagram handle @motoartshow for the next artist reveal and all kinds of kickass motoart updates.
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This is your host Mallika Prakash signing off! See you soon!
Mallika Prakash is a motoartist and a curator who started life in Delhi, her art career in San Francisco and recently moved to Bangalore. She started Moto Art Show in 2018 in response to a lack of opportunity to exhibit motoart in India and began curating and hosting motorcycle-centric art exhibitions, bringing together a like minded community. She is extremely passionate about carving a space for motoart and everything it has to offer in the physical art world.