Art can be found everywhere,

if you only appreciate that it's there.

Vinay Rawlani’s fascination with art developed at a young age, influenced heavily by his mother. An immigrant to the United States, she spent a great deal of her time studying to become a nurse. Art was her escape during the difficult transition into American life. What began as a therapeutic hobby, knitting and sewing in her free time, eventually became one of her greatest passions. By the time Vinay had reached the age of seven, his mother had enrolled in art courses and introduced him to the College of Dupage pottery studio – the ultimate playground, in his eyes. He was enamored by the cool touch of the clay on his hands, how the water would alter its consistency and change the effect his fingers had upon the clay. He was instantly hooked.
Before long, Vinay himself had enrolled in courses of my own and spent the next few years honing his sculpting and drawing skills. Whenever he was without clay, Vinay could be found sketching his pets or relatives. Art was his outlet. As a teenager, the academic demands of school and the hope for a successful career forced Vinay to depart from his obsession with art. Little did he know then, these two art forms would become lifelong passions and go on to influence his future. As time went by, Vinay realized the ever-present nature of art; that it was all around us, every day. Ultimately, it was this realization that allowed him to return to his roots and incorporate art into his professional career and his life as a whole.
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Although he’s held tight to the materials that first made him fall in love with art – vine charcoal and newspaper print for drawing, and clay for sculpting – Vinay’s artistic endeavors didn’t stop there. Having grown up in apartments, he had always had an appreciation for nice homes, and spent hours and hours of his childhood sketching dream homes. Luckily, Vinay’s grandfather was a civil engineer, and eager to share his knowledge. Upon immigrating to the United States in the 1960s, he landed two major jobs, building the Sears Tower and the John Hancock Center. Vinay loved watching the way his face would light up when he’d show him original blueprints of the buildings. It was mesmerizing, but Vinay found myself more interested in the architectural and interior design aspects of the job. He took the usual classes in architecture and interior design, and gained some field experience by designing intricate landscapes for his relatives. But it wasn’t until medical school, when he and his cousins bought space in the John Hancock Center (imagine their grandfather’s excitement), that he really had the opportunity to explore his own aesthetic.
Starting from scratch, they designed and decorated an office space they were proud to call their own. It was truly magnificent. While it was bittersweet to leave the John Hancock Center after he married and moved, Vinay was fortunate enough to design the interior of his new office space in the Museum Tower, which he shares with his beautiful wife, Lisa. Additionally, he’s been blessed with the opportunity to design condos for friends and family members in Chicago – two of which are in iconic buildings, the Trump Tower and Lake Point East. Location aside, Vinay believes it’s always incredibly humbling when someone invites you to design their living space. After all, a person’s home is their sanctuary; and to be trusted with the task of turning a house into a home is a privilege.
Lacking the formal education that most high-level designers would have, Vinay’s blueprints were… let’s say, innovative. He’d use black and white copies of downloaded floor plans that he had cut and pasted together to match the task at hand. When it came to designing the space, Vinay spent countless hours in showrooms, looking for the perfect materials. From the tile to the paint, the carpet to the fixtures, and even the toilets – each and every aspect of the interior was meticulously chosen. And while he never did get to build that beautiful, free-standing dream home he’d sketch as a child, Vinay was lucky enough to design an elaborate landscape for his parents when they finally moved into their first home. He was so excited to see them reach this milestone after decades of hard work, and was be honored to have put his stamp on their land.
Vinay’s love for design came in handy in 2012 when he married his bride, Lisa. Because she’s American and he’s Indian, they had a dual culture wedding over the span of four days. That’s right! Four days of an over-the-top celebration of love, starting with a day of praise to bless the wedding, a night of singing and dancing, a full day of two wedding ceremonies and a reception, followed by a vadai (where the bride is formally given away). It was gorgeous, but like any wedding, it was not without careful planning! Vinay designed his own Indian ceremony outfit, as well as the room and mandip (the structure they were married under), and worked closely with their event planner to help design the reception. He also put his artistic skills to use by designing their very own customized save the dates and invitations. With no lack of inspiration, Vinay worked with a choreographer to put together a flash mob, and even coordinated a parade for their wedding day. (Best wedding ever, right?)
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Eventually, Vinay’s artistic abilities collided with his medical career. While in medical school and working in hospitals, he was known as a free design artist (creating medical drawings by hand rather than digitally). While he never intended to become a medical illustration artist, two of his drawings were published in a medical book, and he’s built a robust collection of anatomical art for his portfolio. It was plastic surgery, however, that was the culmination of Vinay’s art life. A tried-and-true perfectionist, his determination for a perfect end result made him a force to be reckoned with in the plastic surgery field.
Vinay found that his experience in various forms of art was helpful to him as a surgeon. Drawing taught him about shadows; essential knowledge for understanding the changes of a person’s face and body with age. Sculpture instilled in him proportion and reference. Architecture showed him infrastructure, simplicity, and placement; all of which are key to a higher understanding of structural rhinoplasty. Additionally, his experience with graphic design and copy influenced his bedside manner, making him a more effective communicator with his patients and students.
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Despite being a well-versed artist, plastic surgery presented Vinay with his greatest challenge yet: working human tissue. With surgery, the stakes are high, forcing him to take on each new patient with a commitment to perfection. As a surgeon, you cannot be restricted by time or money; instead, you must work until you’re certain that the patient will be ecstatic with their end result.

Vinay elaborates on his love for plastic surgery…

“The beauty of plastic surgery is in the unpredictability of human tissue. There are many different types of tissue – bone, cartilage, fat, skin – and each reacts differently to surgery. While scarring, both externally and internally, is only mildly controllable, a surgeon gets better with each new experience. So it’s more than just the changing mediums that’s exciting, it’s the ability to grow with them over time.”

Vinay became interested in cosmetic surgery four years into his residency. His artistic nature was drawn to the idea of mastering a perfect physical result. While he was extremely knowledgable and skilled in surgery, Vinay didn’t feel that this was enough. To compliment his surgical skills, he enrolled in The Art Institute of Chicago to pursue a Master’s degree in art. In this program, Vinay was asked to choose 3 subjects to focus on. Not surprisingly, drawing and sculpture made the list, as well as photography. As a photographer, he concentrated on portrait and figure photography. His goal was to utilize photography in his medical career, but to go beyond the standard clinical photographs.

While he’s not a professional photographer, Vinay is actively practicing and improving his photography skills. Primarily using a Nikon D800 with a Sigma 24-105 lens, his photos are raw and candid in nature. Influenced by David Jay’s “Scar Project” – a series in which women are photographed after undergoing surgery for breast cancer – Vinay hopes to use photography to tell his patients’ stories. The after picture, he believes, should speak volumes about the way the patient intended to look and feel post-surgery.