Simoul Alva on his delightfully plasticine CG illustrations, and what it’s like to work at & Walsh
The Indian-born designer is currently at & Walsh, New York (formerly Sagmeister & Walsh), having been commissioned to create her signature CG editorial illustrations for The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, MIT Technology Review, The Atlantic, Adobe, Wired, Slack and more.
Since the pandemic, the & Walsh team have been working remotely, like most of us; and Alva says one of the big things he misses is not being able to have lunch with the rest of the team. Other than that, however, she says the transition from working in the studio to working from home has been “very smooth.” What is that really do you like working there? “Every day is different … Designers are usually drawn into different projects and have a lot of freedom to present something unique for each client.”
Much of her freelance work is the result of hard work outside of working hours. She had dabbled in 3D to experience the medium and really get to know her tools, with the ultimate goal of seeing how she could use it as a form of communication. Her first editorial commission with him was for none other than The New York Times: âThat’s when I saw its potential to become a style of illustration,â she says. “I use it now like I would use any other design software.”
This enviable commission came out of the blue when she received an email asking her to work on a piece for a specific story. With some of his 3D work, it’s hard to tell where the CG ends, and something like plasticine begins – it looks so spongy and tactile. As it turns out, CG never ends at all: âI love that it can be made as real as needed but as stylized as possible,â says Alva. “I grew up playing with miniature toys and clay. I think the fascination with building little worlds stems from there.”
Another exciting element of working in 3D to create fully digital pieces is allowing new avenues of expression in editorial illustrations through their movement capabilities.
His advice for those looking to work in similar fields? âDon’t be afraid to reach out. Everyone is looking for new styles of illustration and people to collaborate with. Be patient, share your work, meet deadlines and work hard.â