Selfies have been the next in thing for so long that saying it is already dated. Even taking selfies with famous works of art is so 2015 that it has its own book. So it was only inevitable in the age of Photoshop that from taking selfies with old paintings, phones would make their way inside them instead.
That’s the concept of Selfie Gods, a Tumblr blog run by Adrita Das, 24, a designer working in Pune, and graduate of visual communication from Bengaluru’s Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology in 2014. In her posts, Das delicately adds phones to the outstretched hands and signature pouts of people and gods in old paintings.
“At Srishti, we tend to work in areas that interest us,” she said. “I was already looking at religion in a funny way and this grew from that.”
Das, who got her Srishti diploma in 2014, now works part time at the design studio of an IT firm in the city and freelances as an illustrator in her free time. This project, she says, gives her a break from the daily grind of illustrations.
Selfies with Gods actually began as a marketing idea she conceptualised for a Spanish startup soon after her graduation.
“I saw paintings that seemed perfect for smartphones,” Das said. “This was a lifestyle brand and the target audience was Bohemian hippies who like to look at simplified, Orientalised images, so we thought this would work.”
After she parted ways because of conflicting work times, she decided to use that idea for a Tumblr instead. She posted the first image in March 2015 and has added sporadically to the collection in the year since.
Das began with Radha and Krishna because, she said, they really do seem as if they are taking selfies in many Rajasthani paintings of them. The process is straightforward. Once she identifies paintings, she has to make sure to use a high resolution version of the image. This makes it easier to edit on Photoshop. Even the iPhones that blend with their surroundings are just images of fancy phone covers Das found through Google.
“Most of my work happened instantly,” she said. “A lot of them had appropriate hand gestures already. It was just sometimes difficult to find the context that would make them funny because just showing them taking selfies is not enough. I have to work towards that.”
The project has since moved on from its divine origins, with Das now expanding to secular paintings from India and miniatures from Iran and Japan.
“This whole thing of depicting gods with pop culture elements has always been controversial,” Das said. “Nobody has told me yet that this is offensive, but I just hope that the humour negates any offensive thing.”
Here is a selection from her Tumblr: