Mad Skills Monday 017: Manu Ambady

Welcome to Mad Skills Monday, where we showcase top work from young creatives to bring some creative inspiration to beat the post-weekend blues. This week we present the fusions of digital and hand-drawn illustration by Manu Ambady.

Power tool: Pencil & paper, Wacom Intuos 4
Power song: Prodigy - Breathe
Power snack: Kerala banana chips

Manu Ambady is a current student of the MIT Institute of Design in Pune, India. Influenced by figuration and realism, his illustrations experiment with different styles and mediums and his recent project documents the lives of street vendors in Mumbai. Here’s what he had to say about the project brief:

“Hawking or Street vending is one of the means of earning a livelihood which requires minor skills and a low financial input to get started. A street vendor is a person who provides goods or services for sale to the public without having a permanent base or a shop, but instead work with a temporary static stalls or mobile stalls etc. There are about 2,50000 street vendors across Mumbai. Most of them were once engaged in better paid jobs in the formal sector while the others are migrants from small villages who have come to Mumbai so start a better life. The working day of a hawker is more than 10 hours. Though the hours are long, the income does not reflect the time or the effort. But they still work hard and try to eke out a living. Street vendors in Mumbai sell everything from fruits and vegetables to replica of branded merchandise products. A lot of the goods sold by street vendors such as leather items, molded plastic products, household goods and clothes are manufactured in home-based small-scale industries. This way, they support the employment of a large number of people from manufacturing to marketing.”

Manu’s response is a series of observational drawings that combine detailed, black and white sketches with bright, bold colors. This contrasts the struggle and hardship of the sellers against the skillfully-made crafts and invaluable food products they sell. The strong sense of character in each image also gives a face to citizens who would otherwise be lost in a crowd in such a heavily-populated city.


mail2mail3mail4digitize_merry6Here’s some more examples of Manu’s work, which also fuse digital and hand-drawn imagery.

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Before studying at MIT ID, Manu graduated from BA Graphic Design at University of Northumbria at Newcastle. You can check out more of his projects on his Behance and Facebook pages.

Want us to show off your mad skills? We’re always looking for young creatives, students and graduates to showcase for our Monday feature, so send us an email with some samples or a portfolio link with the subject line “Mad Skills Monday” to and we’ll check you out!

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