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November 3, 2021

Meet the Illustrator Behind Instagram’s Diwali Sticker Designs

BY: Instagram Business Team

San Francisco, CA

For Bangalore-based illustrator, muralist and pattern designer Neethi (@kneethee), art has transformative powers. Her work often depicts a bold and dreamy world, infusing subtle elements that reference stories from the past. Her training as a textile designer is evident in her pairing of flat textures and inviting depths, as well as in her unexpected, courageous color combinations.

This year, our @design team worked with Neethi to create a beautiful Diwali sticker collection. Connect and #ShareYourLight today by using Neethi’s vibrant designs in Stories. To learn more about her craft and what Diwali means to her, read on.

sample Diwali sticker depicting two people surrounded by lights

How would you describe your work to someone who’s never seen it before?

I think there is a sense of familiarity and nostalgia when you look at my work, because there are a lot of patterns which are used. Because of my textile background, I love to intersperse my universe with all these different patterns. It could be from textiles, pottery, or wherever, and you won’t see it used in any traditional sense or with any traditional scale. Overall, I think it's quite texturized with patterns and colors, and it's bright and bold. I think that's [my] signature.

Before the pandemic, I did a lot of murals. All of my murals were inspired by outside spaces. For example, if it's a mural in Bombay, I would research about the place. If there's a lake nearby, I'll make a mural about the lake. But again, the last two years have pretty much been indoors, so that's a very big shift.

Tell me about your process with these stickers for @design. Where did you begin, and what was your favorite part?

It was a very smooth process. I just [explored] the things that I relate to with Diwali. Growing up, these are the things which I would see. That's what I wanted to reflect on. Now, the way we celebrate Diwali is obviously not as we used to a decade ago, with all the [fire]crackers and things like that.

Over time, the meaning of Diwali has also changed for us. Now it's a holiday where we connect with our friends. Homes are decorated with these beautiful lights, which I really love. And it’s the only festival I celebrate, so it's amazing that I get to do this. There’s this charm about Diwali, so that's what I wanted to reflect on, and definitely it being a festival of lights. That's what I focused on, just bringing the light part everywhere.

What do you want people to take away from seeing your stickers?

It's the moment you see a celebration, that's what I wanted people to take away from it. The hashtag that you've chosen, #ShareYourLight, I think that's perfect, because that's pretty much what I see Diwali as. It's such a communal event.

Letting go of your inhibitions and coming together is something that I would associate with Diwali, and that's what I got to express.

Which communities were you thinking about as you were working on this project?

Everyone! We've spoken about how it's not just about India celebrating Diwali. Everybody who feels connected with this festival should be able to celebrate.

sample Diwali sticker

What does Diwali mean to you and how will you be celebrating this year?

I have my fiancé here with me, so I'm planning to make some sweets and want to put up a rangoli. I come from the southern part of India, so we have one of our celebratory festivals called Unum, where we do the rangoli with flowers.

I’m [also] going to put all kinds of bright, colorful things in my house. And Diwali is for cleaning, so this is my cue to clean the house and make it spanking new. And the lights! I'm a very reserved person, but I definitely make sure that I light a lot of diyas, as much as I can, for at least a week around Diwali. I really enjoy looking at other people's houses and in any building; everything is lit up and it's such a beautiful sight.

What are some of your favorite ways that you and your family have transformed traditions?

Growing up, my dad used to bring [us] loads of gifts. Gifting is a big thing in Diwali, sweets, especially. You get this very typical Indian mix of dry fruits and sweets, and this used to be something my dad and every friend of our family would give to us. Almonds and raisins and cashews — that smell is something that I really associate with Diwali. That's what we did growing up. Now, people choose what they want to give, and you’re more aware of what the other person would want, if they want something at all. So that's something that is not as common today.

Describe a memorable Diwali or Diwali tradition that stands out when you were growing up.

Mostly it's being with family, which we don’t get to do very often. A couple of years ago was the first time I actually made sweets with my own hands, which was great. So I’m trying to do new things and borrowing from everyone else. A friend might do certain things during Diwali, so I'll borrow from their traditions as well.

sample Diwali sticker of a candle

Looking to learn more about how Instagram can help you push your brand’s creativity? Browse our Instagram for Business blog for more inspiration about how you can make memorable and fun Instagram Stories.

BY: Instagram Business Team

San Francisco, CA