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Avaaz’s Top 5 South Asian Artists to Watch in 2020

Art by Nick Sharma

Desi Comics. A reimagined Jungle Book. A South Asian-inspired Calvin and Hobbes. Even a tattoo or two. We’ve combed the interwebs for our list of the top five South Asian artists. These five talents are as much influenced by style as their own cultural upbringing.

Let’s meet our picks for the top five South Asian artist to keep an eye on in 2020.

1. Nick Sharma, Storyboard Artist


Nick Sharma was born and raised in India. But at 23, he made the leap to the United States to pursue his dream of working in animation. Today, he’s a storyboard artist at Duncan Studios, based in the Los Angeles area.


His artwork is family friendly, with a hint of classic 90s Disney animation style. Every character comes full to life with a wide range of emotions under Sharma’s pen. You can see a little Jungle Book here and his tigers remind us of Hobbes, Calvin’s stuffed and somewhat alive Tiger companion.

Sharma also infuses a lot of his Indian culture into his work, interpreting mythological characters in his unique style.

2. Maria Qamar, Artist

Take the work of Roy Lichtenstein. Indian soap operas. Comic book-style panels and word bubbles. Blend them together into a bright eye-popping palette and you get a Maria Qamar original.


“I realized that if you take a still from an Indian soap opera when it’s zoomed in on somebody’s face and you take a Roy Lichtenstein piece and you put them side by side, it’s the exact same expression — but it’s coming from two opposite ends of the planet. I decided to merge the two because it kind of described who I was as a person — I’m not one or the other. I don’t have to choose.” Maria Qamar

Qamar’s mixes pop comic art with South Asian terms and themes without translating them. Her art is focused solely on her kindred Desis, such as her book Trust No Aunty, which won a 2018 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for humor.


3. Abhijeet Banafar, Illustrator and Character Designer

Abhijeet Banafar left his home of India to pursue his dreams of being an artist in the film, television, and gaming industries. His goal: to design and entertain with those designs.

Art by Abhijeet Banafar

You can see that in his character designs, which come to life in vivid 3-D computer art. His mix of Indian culture is colorful and pops off the screen. And everything is warm and inviting. He creates worlds you want to visit yourself.

4. Heleena, Tattoo Artist

If you’re ever in Leicester, UK and you’re thinking about getting a tattoo, we have the artist for you.

Heleena is a tattoo artist who creates amazing designs influenced by her South Asian heritage. Floral patterns and animals grace the skin of many of her customers. And a lot of the work is reminiscent of Indian art you’d find in temples of the past.  You can find her inking up customers at Francis Street Tattoo, which she owns.


And if you’re not ready to ink up your flesh, you can always just color in your floral coloring book filled with a lot of her tattoo designs.


5. Alicia Souza, Cartoonist


Alicia Souza’s cartoons put a smile on anyone’s face, especially those of the Indian culture. She highlights a lot of the day-to-day life of being a South Asian female. From hilarious spouse/relationship reactions to adorable moments with pets to even the carrying of a child, her work is both fantastically funny and relatable.


Who’s Your Top 5 South Asian Artists?

With all the digital content being produced today it is a joy to know that so many come from different cultures and backgrounds. Creativity, no matter the person, is expressed from within. It is nice to see how these particular artist have used their own culture to help express their creativity and for the purpose of bringing joy to others.

But what do you think of our list? Who would be in your Top 5?


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Avid learner of animation and the arts, Kunal loves to talk and discuss everything animated. Currently working towards becoming a storyboard artist, Kunal's website (chaosthoughts.net) shows a plethora of drawings, animations, and 3D sculptures dedicated to express himself creatively.

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