D&AD New Blood Award winner Sroop Sunar brings a punchy new show to the Arts Gallery this January, pitching the great British boozer as an unlikely design icon. Just in time for  new year’s detox resolutions to falter, Sroop invites you to explore a visual history of inebriated England through a show which reimagines the traditional pub sign.

Born in Birmingham, Sroop moved to New Delhi in her teens where her love for Indian street culture and printed ephemera began. From textile to matchbox labels, hair oil to medicine packaging, it was the haphazard printing quality, striking colour palettes, quirky use of typography and visual wit found on every day Indian consumer goods that influenced her work. The unusual stylization of Sroop’s illustration offers a unique cultural aesthetic, presenting India’s quirky post-colonial design culture to a Western audience.Graduating from Central Saint Martins in 2009, her final year dissertation won her a D&AD Best New Blood award. Her clients include Penguin Books, Profile Books, Random House, BP, It’s Nice That, Habitat, Civil Justice Association of California and Howies.

Following exhibitions in London and Berlin, first solo show, The Golden Glassy, opens at the Arts Gallery on 20 January.

What are you working on at the moment?
My first solo show opens in a week on Wednesday so I am manically trying to finish everything off in preparation for it!!! It’s not that I’m not prepared, that would be utterly disastrous, I just tend to leave dozens of minor things to the final moments (headless chicken syndrome?). I guess it makes things more exciting, thrilling, terrifying… its a good rush and my best work always comes from high pressure environments and feeling a sense of urgency, so I must intentionally create these situations even though I don’t plan for it. Come to think about it, it’s actually really annoying! I’m also working on my first commission of the year so all in all, 2011 has started with a bang.

What are your top tips for discovering new talent?
I find Twitter to be an excellent place to find out about stuff like this. I follow all of my favourite blogs, illustrators, agencies, publications etc – they’re all really active online and its a great place to discover new talent. I’m also starting work at D&AD on the Student Awards a bit later this year. I’m really excited about it, I can’t wait to see all of the work, hear what the judges say, and see what gets awarded what. Hopefully I’ll be seeing some amazing things, then I can tell you all about the ones to watch!

Who is your one to watch?
I went to see Alex Ball’s show at the Arts Gallery last November and I was blown away by his work. His paintings are just incredible.

Who or what first inspired you to follow your chosen career?
I wouldn’t say there was one single person who inspired me to become an illustrator. I never set out to become one. It could easily have gone in the opposite direction had my parents said to me “there’s no way you’re going to art school”. So their encouragement and support has allowed me to do what I’m doing right now.

I’ve always been “the arty one” for as far back as I can remember- I can’t explain it. I guess “creation” – or something along those lines – was the philosophy I was meant to live by. Or maybe I just watched too much Art Attack as a child…

What are you most passionate about?
Lots of things – I’m mad on vintage illustration, I love music, good food, my amazing family,  Spanish language, a really great advert/piece of communication, making things, my gorgeous Karen Millen winter coat, amazing music videos, running… just anything beautiful and creative, thought provoking and inspiring… it’s hard to pinpoint. I think in the long run, my passions are to reach the goals I set myself. And these, I am still figuring out!


Which piece of art/design/performance/communication/fashion do you wish you had created?

1950s and 60s Eastern European matchbox labels amaze me. This area of the world was embracing modern design whilst everywhere else, including Britain, still preferred the Victorian aesthetic. I really love these illustration styles- the labels are so clear and informative. It suits the subject matter too, commonly dealing with public service type announcements such as fire safety, hygiene, money saving, alcohol abuse and road safety subjects. The colour composition, symmetry and message style is so direct. I wish I made them!

Where is your favourite London haunt?
FABRIC!

What is your guilty pleasure?
King size twix and Neighbours.

Name a favourite book, song or film
Kaleidoscope – Logistics. Definitely one of my all time favourites.

What is your signature dish?
My macaroni and cheese is known to be pretty spectacular. It goes above and beyond what you would expect from an otherwise ordinary dish. It’s comfort food at it’s finest, and it is positively divine! I also make excellent potato wedges.

Macaroni cheese by Leoslo

What’s next for you?
I have absolutely no idea. My eyes and ears are open, I’m ready to go wherever the wind takes me. I have a good feeling about my first solo show and I hope it will open some new doors.