Niloufer Wadia – Illustration Artist

My City Woman's story on Niloufer Wadia's entrepreneurial journey
Niloufer Wadia -Illustration Artist

About Niloufer

Niloufer is a advertising professional turned independent illustration artist. She also does illustrations for children’s books and book covers, digital vector illustration for micro image sites, painting and cartooning. Meet the multi-talented, humble persona ….

Tell us something about yourself

I’m an advertising professional and after doing Commercial Art from Sophia Polytechnic in Mumbai, I worked at what was then Lintas in Mumbai and later came back to Pune which is my home town, and worked with TBWA, another multinational agency. My professional stint in advertising lasted almost 24 years.

I’m also a single mother by choice, having adopted a baby girl in 2006.

Illustration for a kids book - Kanna Panna
Illustration for a kids book – “Kanna Panna”

How did you decide to start upon your own as a full-fledged independent illustration artist?

Advertising is very demanding, and though exciting and lots of fun, the hours can be really erratic, and clients- very demanding. It means that even though I was Creative Director at the time of leaving and informally heading the Pune branch, I really had limited control of my life and free time, and though I had reliable house-help at least 10am – 5pm, as my daughter grew I needed to factor in study time.

At the end of 2011, I decided to quit my job and turn back to my first love which was illustration and painting. I had been doing small freelance jobs that were pure illustrations and I was actually surprised to see there was that much work available. It was still very tough though to make the break; the lure of staying with a salaried job is very attractive, and it was frightening at first not to be sure where or when the next freelance job and therefore the next cheque is going to come from.

However, I had my own home, no outstanding loans, and I’m not a great spend-thrift, plus I did have the moral support of my parents, brother and his family who weren’t very concerned, probably because they thought I would return to advertising within months.


What are the key challenges you face in your job?

Book cover illustration by Niloufer
Book cover illustration by Niloufer

As I mentioned the main thing was to accept the fact that I now no longer had a regular salary to fall back on. After some 6, somewhat scary months,

I learnt how to balance things out, not to get over excited and frivolous when I’d had a “good” month, and in general to live more carefully, plan better and use money more sensibly.

Another huge challenge is to stay focussed and not to fitter time away on Social Media which is very enticing. I’m still always battling that challenge because there are so many wonderful  artists out there and one link just leads to another and then another and before you know it the day is gone!

My advertising life habituated me to tight deadlines and now with very loose or no deadlines it’s doubly easy to forget that I should keep generating artwork even when there is no immediate demand.

Another thing I really miss is the interaction with peers in the work place. Apart from being a great support system, the mental stimulation one gets from just simple discussions, the ideas and knowledge one gains, is now completely missing in my life, and I do miss that very much. I’m not a great extrovert, so I can go days now without any adult discussion.


What keeps you going?

Dusk 24 by 36 Acrylic on canvas
“Dusk” 24 by 36 Acrylic on canvas

I’ve been lucky. New opportunities keep popping up out of the blue. For example, I took part in an online competition (so maybe Social Media isn’t all bad! and now suddenly I’m regularly illustrating children’s books. I love most of what I do, I feel I’ve really improved at both painting and illustration, and have widened my scope; for example, at one time I wouldn’t dream of drawing an animal, now I’m doing a whole story book with an animal hero! I admit I enjoy the appreciation that even strangers send my way, that really boosts me, and makes me more aware of how much more I can do. I also cannot imagine now going back to work for anyone, so that’s one door closed!


How do you see yourself evolve going forward?

I hope to do a lot more of the same and hope I keep improving to a point that I myself really love my own artwork. I’d like to do a solo exhibition of my paintings, till now it’s only been with groups and  I’d also like to get into a product line where I use my cartooning for my own products, but that requires searching for good vendors and at the moment I don’t want to break focus from what I’m doing. In fact there’s always so much going on in my head, so many things to try out, that I actually have to beware I don’t get derailed doing nothing in the process.

What is the one advice you have for anyone else wanting to start their own venture?

Strictly speaking, this isn’t a business where I’m responsible for other people’s salaries, nor have I invested a great deal of money except in my art materials as and when I need them, so I don’t have advice in that direction. But yes, I think if you want to begin something, if there’s something you love doing more than anything else, go for it; there’ll never be a “perfect time”. Certainly a reasonable nest egg, sensible financial planning is required. And of course, I think all women even if they don’t need to, should do something that’s just for themselves.

You can reach Niloufer at:





As told to My City Woman!

One thought on “Niloufer Wadia – Illustration Artist

  1. I’ve had the immense pleasure of interacting and working with Niloufer.

    The one thing she forgot to mention, given her truly humble nature, is that she’s a fantastic writer too. 🙂

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