Ashwin Chacko's joyful work is full of bold lines and shapes with characters intermingled with hand-lettered positive messages and vibrant patterns, often tackling serious topics in a lighthearted, humorous way.
Also known as Whacko, he's a multi-disciplined illustrator, designer and hand-lettering artist based in Dublin and believes his influences are rooted in contemporary culture and a love for music, comics, tattoos and street art. "I love telling stories, uncovering the social interactions that drive culture," he tells Creative Boom. "As an introverted child drawing for me was a way to experience the world and to express myself. This ability to communicate a story through a visual language has always fascinated me.
"The act of drawing to remember or to tell a tale goes back to our ancestors leaving a mark in the caves they inhabited, the act is very intimate and intuitive. A story has the ability to reach past the many filters and walls we build and to touch the heart," he adds.
Ashwin grew up in India in the foothills of the Himalayas in an international boarding school called Woodstock. "I was living in a little melting pot of people from 50 different nationalities, sharing our own experiences of the world, each with our own unique perspective and culture," he says. "But we came together to create a new culture."
He puts this experience down to being able to "relate to many cultures and adapt to fit in but never fully feel a part of any." Ashwin adds: "This ability to adapt has had a huge influence on how I work and has driven my capability to merge different practices into a fusion that works like my hand-lettered type in conjunction with my illustration."
Last year marked 10 years of freelancing for creative studios and brands like Puma, Nike, and – more recently – he enjoyed an artist residency with Facebook. To inspire other creatives on their own journey, Ashwin has just released a new book, Keep At It, full of inspiring quotes and insights that he hopes will help.
At the moment, Ashwin is working on another picture book with the working title, Everyone Has Fear: "It's to encourage children to realise they are not alone, as we all have fear, but fear does not define us," he says. Amongst many other things, including building a creative network in Dublin, Ashwin is working on launching a mini apparel brand.
"My positive messaging and voice stems from who I am, and who I am stems from my faith. Christ taught us to uplift the downtrodden, fight for justice and most of all – love one another. My hope is that in this chaotic world we live in, I can bring encouragement through my art, bringing joy and a sense of peace."
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