“Train yourself to become a better artist and reach to a level where it does not matter what tools you have at hand”

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What made you decide Art was your calling? How did you further move into Animation?

I have been drawing from as long as I can remember. I grew up watching a lot of cartoons and when I wasn’t watching them, I was trying to draw them. I also have very supportive parents who nurtured my interest in art since childhood and eventually decided to let me pursue a career in Animation. Art has always been my calling, and I can’t think of a time where I wanted to do anything else other than that.

How has been your journey since the day you graduated from DSK Supinfocom? You have done an internship from Green Forest Animation, Shenzhen, China. How was your internship experience?

It’s been 1 and a half years now, since I graduated from DSK Supinfocom. It’s been going great so far. The professional experience is very different from what we had in college. In college we created films which were our own, and now we are utilizing our skills to contribute to a company’s project.
I had done my first internship in 2012, in Green Forest Animation, China. It was an eye opening experience since it was the first time I experienced working in a professional environment and also my first experience working outside of India. It was great, both in terms of work and culture.

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Apart from your Masters Degree, did you undertake any additional formal training to become an expert Designer? How much important do you feel it is to gain international experience in this field?

I did not, the education in DSK Supinfocom is the only formal training I have had so far. Apart from that, as far as my interest in Art goes, it is mostly self taught. In college they teach you the tools and techniques. After that it is up to the student to take it further and use it to create something.
International experience is a must in our field. Mainly because, as artists we have a tendency to easily get comfortable living in our own little space, shut from the outside world. When you travel and meet other artists, it opens your mind to something much more bigger and gives you so much exposure, which you wouldn’t get sitting at home or at your studio.

What is the process that you follow while executing any project and the tools that you use?

Most of my projects start in the little notepad I have on my phone. The first step is always ‘the idea’. And the funny thing about ideas, is that you can get them anywhere at any time. So my phone is something I always have with me, and I use it to note them down, before I forget it. Next step is to do tons of research on the project that you are about to begin. Get your facts and references right, and then jump into designing. I mostly work with pencil and paper during the initial stages. It always starts with rough sketches and quick doodles, just to get down the ideas from my head in the paper. Once the project is in production, I mostly work digitally. Softwares like Photoshop, Autodesk Maya, Adobe Aftereffects come in quite handy.

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Tell us about your most memorable/challenging piece of work that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it?

The most memorable work that I have created, has to be my graduation film ‘Magarwasi’. I made that in college with 3 other classmates of mine. We spent a year working on that film, and all the hardwork finally paid of. The short film won 9 Awards at International film festivals and it helped us get our jobs and break into the industry. Its a 6 minute short film, about an Indian cop and his encounter with the malicious Magarwasi tribe. Magarwasi, is a fictional tribe that I came up with. The idea originated from a newspaper article that I had read a couple of years back. It was about the ‘Crocodile killings happening in the Powai lake in Mumbai’. I was really fascinated by the idea of crocodiles living in the middle of the city, and went on to develop the idea from there. I can share a few, screenshots from the short film.

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Which aspect of creating such brilliant characters do you enjoy the most?

The creation itself is the most fun part of making art. If you are not enjoying while you are making it, there is something wrong in what you are doing.
Apart from that, the real satisfaction is to share it with people and see their responses. Good or Bad, it makes you feel like you are contributing something to the world. A single piece of art can make a person feel all the emotions and that is what an artist or a filmmaker strives for.

Who or what keeps you motivated to generate new ideas?

Thanks to the internet, now we have access to the works of so many artists from around the world. We have some really great communities and online groups where artists get together and create stuff. Seeing the works of other artists motivates me to work harder and produce more art. I look up to a lot of artists and their work is a constant source of inspiration for me.
As far as my ideas are concerned, it depends a lot on my life experiences. I like to design things that I see around me. The people I see on the streets and the stories I hear from people are a big source of where my ideas come from.

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What are some of the technical skills should one possess to excel in this field?

Animation is a field that requires a lot of team work. To make a single short film, we had people with different skill sets contributing to the project. There are a lot of departments which need to work together to be able to make these films. Some of these departments require a lot more technical skills than the rest.
I can speak for myself. And my department is right at the beginning, during the ideation and designing stage. Having an understanding of how 3d softwares work is a must these days. Even as a designer, even though our main job is to just draw and paint. Knowing softwares helps you to get your output much more faster.

What message would you like to give to the aspiring animators / artists?

Just stay focused on what you want to do, and work hard to achieve your goals. Write them down on paper and make decisions that will help you reach closer to that goal. Stay in touch with the artist inside you, especially if you are a CG artist. It is easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by all the latest softwares and technology, ultimately what matters is what you do with it. Softwares are just a tool, like a pencil. It is not going to do the work for you. Having a better pencil is not going to make you a better artist. Train yourself to become a better artist and reach to a level where it does not matter what tools you have at hand. You are still going to make awesome stuff.

To see more of Varun’s work, click here

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