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Artist Pia Alizé Hazarika carries her workspace on her back

As a frequent traveller, the artist makes a workspace out of window ledges and kitchen tables and finds inspiration in the most random places

Pia Alizé Hazarika with her cat.
Pia Alizé Hazarika with her cat. (@pi_alize on Instagram)

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There is a deep, dark, delicious honesty to Pia Alizé Hazarika’s art that feeds the soul as an intimate conversation with a friend would. A gifted storyteller, she uses comics and graphic illustrations to express ideas and impressions on life, relationships, and mental health.

Her recent posts on Instagram include brilliant self-portraits, comics that take an unflinching look at the human condition as well as soothing videos of the artist engaging in crochet. Hazarika's portfolio features web, app, print design work and several book illustrations and collaborations published by Penguin Random House India, Zubaan Books, Manta Ray Comics and others. Most recently, her work was seen in the docu-series My Daughter Joined a Cult directed by Naman Saraiya, available on Discovery+.

In a conversation with Lounge, the artist speaks of making art on the move, 3 am strokes of inspiration and her many creative influences.

Describe your current workspace to us.

I’m currently travelling, so my workspace is pretty much anywhere I get a surface and WiFi. Right now I’m sitting outside, at a table in California, before that it was a kitchen counter in Philadelphia, then Seattle, and before that I was sitting on a window ledge because I still haven’t ordered a desk for the new place I’ve moved into.

Also Read: Our whole house is my workspace: Harpreet Padam

Has it always been this way? Or has it evolved over the years?

It’s actually always been like this. My entire work setup fits into a backpack so I’m pretty mobile, which is a gift and a curse. I can set up anywhere. I’ve moved multiple times over the last few years and the only thing that’s been consistent is my ‘workspace’. How it has evolved is that it all got a little more streamlined. Of course, my backpack has gotten heavier.

A labelled flat lay of the things that make for Pia Alizé Hazarika's mobile workspace.
A labelled flat lay of the things that make for Pia Alizé Hazarika's mobile workspace. (Courtesy Pia Alizé Hazarika)

How would you define your daily relationship with this space?

It is tenuous at best because while I love it, all this constant moving around and carrying things on my back cannot be good for my spine. Then again, if we’re identifying workspaces I’d have to say ‘the inside of my head’—my relationship with that also being tenuous at best.

Tell us about some of the eureka moments you have had and major works that you have done from here.

I’m going to stick with the ‘inside of my head’ metaphor here because the physical space keeps changing. I’ve been doing this for a while, so there have been a lot of eureka moments. They happen at the most random times for the most random things: everything from layouts to story ideas. They’re usually spurred by too much coffee. Sometimes, something occurs to me at 3 am and I fall out of bed and into my backpack to retrieve a laptop or a notebook so I don’t forget it. This has a 30 per cent success rate because I usually forget and remember multiple times.

If you were to trade in this place for another, what would it be?

A desk. With a chair that has back support because prawn life (my title for horrible posture) is hard.

What’s the one thing that has always been at your workspace over the years? 

Coffee. (Do you have to ask?) But also a notebook and a pencil.

The first artist whose work you followed closely/sometimes imitated. What about them appealed to you?

This is a big question. I follow and look up to a lot of artists: Quentin Blake initially, then a barrage of DC/Marvel illustrators (I’d practise by trying to replicate their pages), Becky Cloonan, Alison Bechdel, Alan Moore, Craig Thompson, James Jean, Kruttika Susarla, Prabha Mallya, Aarthi Parthasarthy and Kaveri Gopalakrishnan (of Royal Existentials and Urban Lore)!

What was the first medium/tool you used in the early years of practice? How has that evolved now?

Crayons! But I was also a baby back then—and I used to eat them. Has anything changed? Probably not.

Indumathy Sukanya is an artist and independent journalist based in Bengaluru


Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces.

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