This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Canada, which closed in 2021.

Soni Satpathy-Singh, The Sketchy Desi, Captures The Hilarious Truths Of Being South Asian

For example, Indian aunties love talking sh*t!
Sketchy Desi

If you grew up in a typical South Asian household, you know a few things hold true: brown aunties love gossip, your mom was always superstitious and there are tons of dahi (yogurt) containers in your fridge. Like a lot of them.

But one New York City artist is taking common South Asian situations and turning them into colourful works of art. Soni Satpathy-Singh, a 35-year-old recipe developer and writer says she's been dabbling with sketches and comics in the past few years but never took it as a serious endeavor.

"Nine months ago I began to take myself seriously and [created] greeting card ideas and longer-form comics that speak to my experiences of being Indian-American," she tells the Huffington Post Canada. "With any culture, I think there are certain inside jokes that arise with having access to the same shared experience."

Satpathy-Singh says her focus is mainly around growing up in a South Asian home in North America as opposed to growing up in a country like India.

"I feel those of us of the second generation have spawned our own culture with subtext as we’ve taught ourselves to move through space with our hyphenated identities as Indian-Americans or Indian-Canadians," she says.

For her artwork, which generally depicts classic comic book fonts and cartoon-like characters, also takes on political stances and topics that may be considered South Asian taboos — like sexism and shadism. Relying on conversations with other Desis (Indians) or experiences with the South Asian community, she is able to sketch out her ideas in full.

"My community seems to hold a host of codifications steeped in scriptures and/or traditions. We’re told we can’t do x,y, z because we’re a woman, or affiliated with this religion, or married, or because it’s this day of week," she says. "I sketch about things that I’ve mulled over, that that I find peculiar, funny, or just plain wrong."

In terms of feedback, she said non-Desis have appreciated her work even though they don't understand all the South Asian cultural references, while some South Asians believe her artwork is disrespectful.

"I’ve been told by strangers in social media that as a women, I should be more demure or that in questioning certain things or poking fun, I am disrespecting this notion of 'culture.'"

But this doesn't bother her. In fact, it makes her want to do more. Currently, Satpathy-Singh says she is working on creating longer comics and taking on certain themes in larger detail.

Check out some of our favourite pictures below and check out her page for more!

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