Meet Vijay, the designer behind the realistic illustrations created in Figma
Updated: Nov 28, 2022
Hi! My name is Vijay Verma, but I usually go by the handle "realvjy". I grew up in a small town in North India but moved to Delhi NCR five years ago. I'm an illustrator and designer who also love to code. For years, I worked full-time as a product designer for brands managing there design systems and helping the design team create better products. But, this (2021) year I quit my so called 9-5 job to become an independent designer. Currently, I work from my studio as an independent contractor helping brands develop effective visuals and design systems. Other than that, I spend most of my time at the studio, experimenting, designing, and making things what I love.
When did you start creating?
The earliest memory I have is drawing mountains and houses as a child. Design has always been a passion of mine since I was a kid. While growing up, cartoons had a huge impact on me, and I subconsciously decided that I wanted to create those things one day. Although I still can't do it.
In 2008, I was drugged by Photoshop and it was just awesome. Since then, I keep working on digital design. In 2016, I decided to focus on creating illustrations and created 100 illustrations in 100 days, later released as open source illustrations - illustrations.co.
It is always interesting for me to experiment with different tools and techniques. At the moment, I enjoy creating more realistic illustrations in Figma. Also, learning 3D modeling and animation. Since I love creating resources for the community, I have also created some plugins and other design resources.
Where do you find inspiration?
It seems that everything around me inspires me in some way, no matter what it is, whether it is nature, surroundings, movies, or games. Like, In every movie and game there is something that inspires me to design something, the visuals, colors, and so many tiny details inspire me to create what I would like to design as my next project.
Whenever I need digital inspiration, Pinterest is the go place. I made a lot of boards in different styles and categories, and I always spend some time adding inspiration to them.
How did you develop your style?
I think my style is still evolving. Over the years, I have experimented with many different styles of illustration and am now working on 3D art style as well.
I've always wanted to create something that's colorful, eye-catching. When you browse through my old posts, you'll see that I started out with bold stroke illustrations using mostly primitive shapes and vibrant colors.
Currently, I love creating more realistic illustrations in Figma by combining primitive shapes, color, gradients, and masks, which I've learned over the years. I love vibrant colors, mainly blues and purples, as you can see from my illustration.
How do you find working in Figma like?
One word - Wonderful! For me Figma is a tool, I was waiting for a long time. Back in 2017, I began using Figma for UI design and quickly fell in love with it. This is such a simple but powerful tool. I adapted it first at my company because of its collaboration feature. I eventually became a fan of Figma and I started using it for most of my work, including icons and high-detail illustrations.
“I use a notebook and pen but the truth is that 90% of the time I start working directly in Figma.”
Could you walk us through your creative process, from start to finish?
Usually, I just make most of my illustration in one sitting. In general, the process of designing or illustrating is pretty much the same.
Sometimes I sketch out the ideas on my iPad first using procreate. However, that rough doodle/sketch does not give much information beyond the basic structure for the piece I want to work on.
Secondly, I create moodboards so I can collect color references and objects related to the piece I'm making. To create moodboards, I use Pinterest, Purref, and Figma.
Sometime after collecting ideas and references, I think it through and either draft it for later or begin working on it immediately.
Whenever I get stuck, I take a break and collect some more references or I start again. Other than that, I iterate until I like it. That's pretty much how I create any piece of illustration. And at the end Art is meant to be shared and let it go.
“When it comes to my creative process, I try not to get too influenced by current trends.”
When did you start using Figma to illustrate your work?
I just shared a twitter thread describing why I prefer Figma for illustration over Sketch and Penpot. My first detailed illustration in Figma was soul in 2020, which I created after watching the Pixar movie. Initially, I started this as a challenge, but now I find it calming and satisfying. The simplicity of Figma makes it my first choice for illustration and design work. I also use other tools like Procreate for rough drawings and Illustrator for more complex illustrations. Still, Figma is my top choice over other alternatives.
Which artist inspires you?
Honestly, there is an incredibly large amount of artists that I love and there is something I have learned from each of them! From the history I really love the abstract illustration style of Pablo Picasso. Also, I find myself inspired by the new artists that have appeared on the internet lately. Always love to see work of - Pablo Stanley, Samji, Ranganath Krishnamani, Raf Grassetti and many other artists with different art styles and genres.
Could you share a practical tip to deal with procrastination and imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is extremely common. I do sometimes feel it. However, by understanding where impostor syndrome comes from, such as perfectionism and fear of failure, you can break this impostor cycle to become happier, more productive. After a while, I learned that getting things done is more important than making them perfect and moving on to the next task.
Value of your work: The value of your work is not dependent on your performance. Sure, your performance is a measurement. However, your value lies in your ability to self-reflect, adjust, and improve.
It's okay to try and fail: It’s better to try and fail than to do nothing at all. Even if you do fail, you will learn things along the way.
Nothing is perfect: Nothing is perfect, and nothing you produce will be perfect either. Forget about perfection and focus simply on working well.
Stop overthinking: Instead of thinking (and getting anxious) about the result you want to achieve, decide on a process that will get you to that result and stick to it.
“Go out and conquer something. It doesn't matter if no one likes it. You should do it for yourself. Put it out and move to the next thing”
What is your go Spotify playlist?
My two on-the go Spotify playlists are these two
I love acoustic musics mostly, this one is so good 🙂
Also, I have a private list curated with some of my favorite songs
What is your best habit and the worst while creating?
Sometimes I underestimate the amount of time needed to complete a project and either start late or repeatedly iterate. In the same way as many other artists, I'm obsessed with quality work and keep changing things as I go. Sometimes I spend hours drafting an idea and don't like the results, and it never saw light. I learned this is not good practice and am trying to reduce these days.
Good thing is - As soon as I start designing or making stuff, I just focus on what I want to create. Focus mode is an effective practice for concentration and reducing distraction, and I think I'm good at it.
The process of creating art is generally solitary, requiring discipline and planning one's time. Generally, I divide my day routine into two parts: client work and my own stuff. When it comes to my own work, if I haven't done it during the day, I do it at night; being consistent and giving time to improve one's own skills is a good habit.
What do you do when your creativity is stuck?
Hopefully, I don't have a pressing deadline. Then I tell myself it's okay to pause for a while and return later. Taking a power nap or just thinking about something else for a while helps. Creating a new file and finding color inspiration here and there or creating some moodboard for the next idea re-energises me.
I think working on something you enjoy in the studio for long enough will eventually lead to something creative. Better surroundings and ambience helps to make you creative. In the past, I would worry what would be my next project once I finished one, but after working for a long time, I know a new idea will always come.
Currently, I have more ideas than time, but when I started, looking at other artists' work always helped me overcome the creativity block.
How do you unplug?
Heheee! It's an interesting one. Actually, I spend most of my time on my iPad or MacBook. During work, I use focus mode of my iPhone to remove distraction and notifications from social media. I unplug from electronics for one day every weekend and just be lazy or spend time cooking something special.
Is there a book you recommend to the SoulDoodles community?
I read some time, yes, Some of the books from my shelf - Ikigai, Steve Jobs by Walter Isscon, The Design of Everyday Things, Atomic Habits, Creative Selection: Inside Apple's Design Process. I’m creating a digital bookshelf on my website here vjy.me/book
Where can people follow your work?
I can be found everywhere using the username @realvjy. These days, I primarily use Twitter. The Instagram is like a portfolio of my digital journey. I also share more behind-the-scenes stories on instagram story. As a designer, Dribbble played an important role in transforming me into who I am today. And this is my website vjy.me, which has everything I've done so far.