Born in the quaint town of Darjeeling, Nori Norbhu is an upcoming artist from the region. Her works are usually bright, colourful and portrays illustrations of women of colour in various public spaces. Being raised in a family of women, Norbhu has felt strongly about issues of women empowerment from a young age. The artist, who now resides in Mumbai, has been showing the world her experiments with marrying art forms together and we could not help but take note. Her most recent experiments with merging illustrations into photographs yet again addresses various aspects of social issues such as women empowerment, body positivity, LGBTQI* issues and self love. We decided to engage in a short conversation with the artist from the mountains to better understand her intent.
TS: Where are you from? How has it played a role in shaping the person you are today?
NN: I was born and brought up in Darjeeling. I can honestly say I had a lovely childhood. We played in the mud, studied when we needed to and were able to enjoy the little things. My hometown has definitely made me more preceptive to the environment around me. It’s made me want to change the way people perceive art. It’s made me enjoy the smaller things in life. If I can do that in my own small way I’d have achieved something.
TS: Where did you start picking up on visual art?
NN: I think I have always been a more visual person. I had Fine Arts as a 6th subject in school and that was always my favourite class. Even in school I remember my art teacher taking us to the school garden to draw. We observed flowers, leaves and began drawing them in our sketchbooks. This was definitely my introduction to art. Digital illustrations on the other hand probably came up as a natural progression from a sketchbook to a tablet. I have an equal love for both.
Gif Art Work by Nori Norbhu
TS: What is your profession?
NN: I currently work as a graphic designer at an advertising agency called the Glitch, while also freelancing as I love illustrating in my free time as well.
TS: What specific issues do you mostly like to highlight through your art works?
NN: I have varied issues I try and talk about through my art. Most of my art would reflect on women empowerment, body positivity, LGBTQ issues and self love. More recently , highlighting social issues by marrying illustration and photography.
TS: What inspired you to use the medium of visual art to talk about women empowerment and lgbtqi issues? creative philosophy?
NN: Being brought up strong women who I was able to look upto, I felt the need to share that with others who probably didn’t have the same upbringing. It honestly makes you looks at the world in a different perspective and in this day and age, we can only grow supporting each other. The power to choose who you want to be and not be bound by societal demands is something I strongly believe in. The past year has been incredible for women and the LGBTQ community but we still have a long way to go.
Art works by Nori Norbhu
TS: Any artists or individuals you look up to?
NN: I love the work of Sam Kuvaloor, Rachel Aldean, Prashant Miranda and Cat Coquillette. On a personal note, I don’t have to look far for inspiration because my grandmother, Mrs. Norzin Norbhu, has been a trailblazer and an absolute inspiration.She was able to set up a school and change primary education in Darjeeling so an inspiration to say the least.
TS: Based on your journey so far, any messages to aspiring artists?
I’d tell them to believe in your art and trust your process. Try and explore all mediums and find out what inspires you to make more art. Find people who push your creativity and expand your knowledge of art. It’s sometimes harder in the hills to explore a creative career but I’d say to not listen to the naysayers and follow your heart. We need individuals making this world a more colourful place to live in.
All in all, we understand from her that the key to making art is following your heart and expanding your scope to various mediums. Explore more of her work and life on her Instagram page.
Contributed by Animesh Gautam
Photo and art work by Norzin Norbhu