While most people take selfies against Mumbai landmarks, illustrator Sebin Simon (27) stands in the middle of the road clicking photos of construction sites, empty vehicles, and ditches. “People look at me like I’ve lost my mind,” he says.
Over the last three months, Simon has been clicking photos on his phone, then Photoshopping them to add digitally hand-drawn monsters. The images then go up on his Facebook page, called Inkology, as part of the Monster Hub series.
Sebin kick-started the monster series in March this year. It takes after his earlier works, where he created illustrations with motivational quotes. Already, the current series has 82 monster illustrations. It includes an eco-friendly, green Cyclops at Kala Ghoda hugging a tree, a briefcase-toting monster travelling by Mumbai Metro, and a ferris wheel that morphs into a 12-handed monster.
“I used to love drawing funny monsters. Earlier, I would sketch them on paper. Now, they have evolved in the digital space,” he says, adding, “Monsters offer infinite possibilities. I can draw them with different shapes, colours and forms. Drawing them gives me relief from all the other client work and its pressures.” He works as a creative head at a Mumbai-based digital marketing agency.
Simon’s aim is simple: to bring a smile to people’s faces. While the images seem to be a critique on the infrastructural woes of the city, Simon says he isn’t comfortable preaching a message just yet. “In the future, they could. But the goal right now is to keep my inner child and imagination alive. And that’s what I want other people to do as well. Try to smile and have fun,” he says.
Simon’s interest in drawing goes back to his childhood. He then studied commercial arts from LS Raheja College, Worli. “But my focus was never illustration. I started it only in my spare time,” he says.
The Dombivli resident (the suburb features prominently in the series) clicks photos whenever he travels. His favourite, he says, is the photo of the bridge at Dombivli railway station. “The structure [of the bridge] has the exact shape of the monster I imagined,” he says.
Sebin picks a place and shoots it with a monster already in mind. “Once I’m back in my studio, I translate the monsters from my mind onto the photographs.”
While his Facebook monsters are gaining popularity (the page has six lakh followers), he admits that his work is seldom seen as art: “I’m a common man’s artist. As long as my work touches hearts, it doesn’t matter if I’m not exactly acclaimed in the art world.”
Simon now plans to start a YouTube channel for Inkology, where he will upload illustrated short movies.