As a cartoonist, Sandemo Ngullie stays on top of news, sports, and current affairs. But his style of illustration is best recognized for his funny and brilliant general human observations.
Presently working for The Morung Express, he has been in the cartooning field for the past eleven years. His work was first published in one of the earliest newspaper “The Naga Banner”. Thereafter, his cartoons were also published in “The Northeast Sun” and “Jet Set Magazine”. He then went on to work for “The Nagaland Post” from 2004 to 2008.
Since his School days, Sandemo knew he was good at art. But it was his cousin Late Merithung Merry, noted Musician Ren Merry’s younger brother who taught him how to draw and honed his talent. He shared that Late Merithung was a very talented illustrator and had taught him everything. Since then, Sandemo has had no formal training.
He candidly reveals that he was an addict during his teenage years. Cartooning, he said, turned his life around. After a successful stint at rehabilitation centre, where he found himself drawing to pass his time, Sandemo found his calling to Cartooning and has since, never looked back.
He lists his favourite cartoonists as Mario Marinda, and R.K Laxman. His family and friends are his biggest supporters and his sister the biggest fan, who has all of his cartoons on her phone.
As a cartoonist, he faces criticisms and has often come under attack. But, he also has his share of fans. He particularly mentioned Father Chacko, former principal of Holy Cross School Dimapur, who is said to follow his work and sends words of encouragement and has even given him several books as gifts. This, he said has been a source of motivation.
He reveals that his favourite themes, particularly in reference to Nagaland, are on issues of Prohibition, Illegal immigrants, and the Church. Sharing his creative process, he said that the words come to him first and then the pictures. Also, sometimes ideas come to him instantly and sometimes in two to three days. When he is faced with creative block, he tries to watch television, read the newspaper, or go out looking for inspiration. Flipping through his old works is said to help him overcome his creative block.
The worst limitation in his work, he said, comes from having to worry about making a livelihood. Because, cartooning in Nagaland is not a decent paying job, forget, being a lucrative career. Even for someone like him, who is employed as a full-time cartoonist in a daily newspaper.
He laments on the sad scenario in the State, where the Government has given hardly any interest to artists, with only a handful of painting competitions held occasionally. He also underscores the importance for Schools to teach art to its students. He commented that Nagas are deemed as inherently artistic but there’s barely and platform or encouragement happening.
It is with this pessimism, he states that in Nagaland, aspiring cartoonists, needs to first complete their education, while simultaneously keep art as just a hobby. He advises to draw a lot and keep practicing every day. He also stresses the importance of developing the habit of reading from a young age. Besides cartooning, he loves to paint, and is also a keen handicrafts maker.
Extremely shy in nature and modest about his work, Sandemo lets his cartoons speak his mind. He humorously calls his work as an “Awareness Programme” every morning, because, according to him a lot of people are not aware of what is happening in their own State. This, he hopes to remedy through his cartoons.
Sandemo plans to publish a book containing a collection of his work. Besides this, he has a dream. To see an art gallery in every district of Nagaland.