A nation’s currency is intricately tied to its identity, containing symbols and security codes and changing hands countless times a day. The humble ten-rupee note, one of the earliest releases of the Mahatma Gandhi series, serves as the canvas to Tanya Singh’s latest illustration project.
“It started with me running out of paper at 2 AM one weekend,” says Tanya “I found a ten rupee note in my pocket and decided to draw on it.” The idea of transforming currency to collectible appealed to her, where each note could be unique to a specific era and artist and its value gauged by the same. “Imagine someone saying ‘I have an art nouveau style, 2016 note by so-and-so’ You got something better?’ The exchange of money becomes something to look forward to,” she says.
She was intrigued by the idea of adding another layer to this context-laden medium with her drawings, and taking it beyond the means of currency.
Sharing the note on Instagram the next day, Tanya was overwhelmed by the positive response. “The same drawings in my sketchbook would be just another post, but the minute I drew on a note everyone sort of flipped out,” she says “It was a good social experiment for me to realize the importance of the canvas we choose in order to give our work context.”
The project is people-driven, as after the first note, Tanya started receiving requests from people for illustrated notes of their own. “I use whatever I can find in my pencil-box, its what I’d like to call a pitara. There’s always unexpected things falling out of it – nail cutter, finger puppets, happy pills!”
She uses a variety of mediums on the notes from markers, watercolours and highlighters to sketch pens, metallic pens and micro-tips.
“I usually work towards an image that I have already formed in my mind but with the notes, my process was very fluid,” says Tanya “One thing led to another as I treated it like a doodling exercise.”
The project is an ongoing series, and since each note is created on request she has a person in mind while drawing on the notes. Tanya, who goes by the moniker @thedoodlemafia on Instagram, is originally from Delhi and presently studies at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology.
@antrakay : This was the first one I made and my close friend and house mate called dibs on it.
@kritikatrehan : Shortly after I made the first note, I had an extremely talented senior of mine requesting me to quote a price. I was (still am) humbled. I put everything I liked into this one - milky, starry skies and bubbly, edible chunks of colour.
@deadtheduck : This note was not on request and my first attempt at rendering Mahatma Gandhi, completely unrecognizable on the note. I thought it to be a fitting present for @deadtheduck, someone who has inspired me/my work greatly.
@sumitroystudio : I created this one for a friend who raps. I’m not implying he digs Drake but the thought of transforming Gandhi into Drake in the Hotline Bling video was amusing; with the oversized turtle neck and hand gestures and that! Also, I really like the colours in that video.
@akshitachandra : Turns out my notes make for great birthday presents. Here’s Gandhi having an absolute blast on someone’s 22nd, hehe.