Jag Nagra: Simple geometry, complex characters

This interview is part of our Designers We Love series, crawling inside the heads of wonderful illustrators, photographers, photoshoppers, doodlers, and generally super talented artists that we’ve had the pleasure of working with. These folks make The Book of Everyone beautiful.

Jag Nagra coaxes complex characters out of the simplest shapes. She’s an absolute genius at knowing what simple elements to leave in. She’s the mastermind behind our Superhero-Ology pages. Her designs bring our 2D superheroes vividly to life.jagnagra_1

Describe your style in three words.
Geometric, colourful, minimal.

What was it like collaborating with The Book of Everyone? What was fun about it, what was challenging?
I collaborated with The Book of Everyone when I was really into doing portraits, so it was super fun to interpret and develop characters based on the descriptions provided.

If someone loves your work, what other artists should they look into?
Mikey Burton is a favourite of mine!jagnagra_2

You’re currently working on “Jag Draws Days,” wherein you illustrate a “weird and wonderful” holiday that takes place on every single day of the year. It’s not your first time with a 365 day long project – what appeals to you about this kind of challenge?
My first 365 project was in 2012, and I started it as a way to teach myself how to illustrate. It was a great way to make sure that I took a little time every single day for myself and to develop my style.

My second 365 project was called Scout & Scholar, and I went out every day and asked one person “What did you learn today?” I’m very shy by nature, so this was a real struggle at times, but it really pushed me far outside my comfort zone, and forced me to approach strangers and have some really meaningful conversations with them—something I could have never done before. That project really helped me grow, and has had carried some lasting effects.

I find that 365 projects are a great commitment and while they may seem draining at times, the overall results I’ve achieved in my personal life because of them are well worth it.

What’s your favourite Day that you’ve drawn so far?
Oh, that’s a tough one. I actually really like all the throwbacks. Whether it’s drawing an old chocolate bar, a classic car, or a video game like Oregon Trail, it’s nice to revisit the past.jagnagra_3

What’s the coolest place your work has ever been displayed?
In 2014, during the Super Bowl, a 30-second commercial that I illustrated aired across Canada. It was such a thrill to see it air live on TV… we had a Super Bowl party just so we could watch it, and sat through 3.5 quarters of the football game glued to the screen during all the commercials just waiting for it to air. It was an incredibly special moment.

How do you balance commissioned work with the artistic drive to create what you want to see in the world?
All of my commissioned work so far has actually come from people seeing my personal work that I’ve uploaded to various sites, so I know that it’s extremely important to continue with personal projects to constantly develop my art and improve my skills.

Name somewhere you’ve been that you think more people should know about.
Last year, I had the chance to visit Pamukkale in Turkey, and before planning our trip to Europe, I had never even heard of this place. It’s unreal. Its nickname is “cotton castle” and it’s this mountainside that’s covered in pure white mineral deposits that make it look like snow. We spent an incredible afternoon sitting in the warm pools and taking in the incredible views. You should check it out!jagnagra_4

What’s your favourite YouTube video?
Fainting goats will forever be a favourite.

Besides your own, what’s your favourite page in our book? Got any questions for that artist? (I’ll be passing it on to that person when I interview them!)
I really like the work of Bruno Veloso, and I’m wanting to incorporate hand-lettering and hand-drawn illustrations into my work. Any tips for getting started? I feel a bit intimated about sharing hand-drawn work online!

Bruno responds: “Always take a notebook with you and try stuff freely whenever you have a little time. Never a boring train ride again…” Check out more from Bruno in his interview with us.

Big thanks for the interview, Jag! See more of Jag’s work on her FacebookInstagram, and website.

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