“I’m highly inspired by nature and fascinated by the science of things”
Tell us about your journey from being a student who decided to take up art as a career and to being the owner of a successful studio, Studio Gumani.
I used to draw all the time as a kid, and it was decided from then on that I would pursue art, one way or another. After my 12th grade, I got a BA in Graphic Design. It was only mid-studies that I realized it was illustration that I wanted to do and not graphic design. After I graduated I worked in a couple of places as an illustrator. While studying I was also working as a tattoo artist in a studio in Bangalore. At some point I realized I can’t work for anyone, since most of my concepts/ideas got lost midway between the middlemen (boss, co-workers) and the clients never fully got to see what I wanted to propose for their projects. I also wanted to tattoo more, since my clientele was building up by then. So I quit my job and started a physical studio in Indiranagar, Bangalore. I worked out of there for a year and then shifted my studio to Jayanagar.
Did you undertake any formal training for tattoo art? What are the tools / software that you use regularly as a part of your work?
Yes, I worked under Pradeep Menon of Dark Arts Tattoo Studio in Bangalore. There I learnt through his training, and the lovely guys I worked with, how to tattoo and deal with client and ideate concepts.
For illustration, I have a whole bunch of tools. I use traditional medium like watercolours, ink, pencils etc. and also work digitally with software like Photoshop and Corel Painter. For my digital work I use a Wacom Cintiq 13HD.
For tattooing, I use the standard tattoo equipment that all artists use.
How would you describe your personal style? Also, how is your workflow pattern or your approach towards a project?
I would describe my personal style as very organic but slightly dark. In my work I like working with earthy tones, using natural subjects such as birds, animals and plants. In my personal life, I like surrounding myself with natural/neutral colors whether its in my house/studio or clothing . I like surrounding myself with plants. I do a lot of gardening. I try and be in touch with nature as much as possible, whether its sitting quietly with my dog, or feeding the strays and squirrels outside.
My approach to projects is really straight forward, I first get my basic concepts in place and then I start sketching out ideas. Then it gets tweaked until its close to what the final outcome looks like, Then its just a matter of doing the illustration in the final mediums, whether its painting by hand or digitally. If it’s a client project, it’s the same process.
Which has been your most memorable piece of art that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools you used for the same?
My most memorable project is possibly a mural I did in collaboration with another artist, Sonali Zohra, who goes by Dangercat. We did a mural of a tiger for a outdoor lifestyle store called Wolf Pack. It was the first time we did a project together and we went into it head on without worrying about anything. The concept was pretty simple, it was a tiger peering through jungle foliage. But we really enjoyed working on it. We took our time working on the details and of all the murals I have done, that was the most fun and relaxing. It was a bonus that we had no trouble from the client and they let us go all out with our vision which is the best.
We used pretty basic tools for the project. Graphite to draw out the design, interior wall paint and brushes.
What are the challenges you face as an entrepreneur? How do you overcome them?
Well, running your own business isn’t easy. You don’t wake up and head to work and come back with a salary. You wake up and try either finishing the projects you have or looking for new ones. You also have to worry about non-creative things like self promotional activities, dealing with clients in a professional way, figuring out your accounts and expenses etc.
Unless you run a business with some one else who can help take the load off once in awhile, its pretty much a daily task to get all these factors in place plus be creative and do the project well.
There is no easy way to overcome these tasks but to minimize procrastination. I find it really hard to do these things on a daily basis and I put off a lot of things but it takes time to train yourself to be able to manage these tasks and be productive.
Who or what motivates you to come up with new ideas or concepts?
I’m highly inspired by nature. I’m really fascinated by everything about animals, plants, insects, birds and their behaviour. The science of things. I find a lot of inspiration in things like feathers, leaves and flowers and I try to incorporate these elements to convey a message or idea that I have.
What challenges do you feel an artist has to face on the job front? How to be well prepared?
My biggest challenge, which just gets worse every time, is clients taking the projects seriously. Either they have issues with the money, or how long it takes to do the project, or they give no creative freedom with the illustration and that makes the entire process really bad. One point that I have realized is that, most clients don’t know how to work with an artist. So I make it a point to ask before hand if they have had any experience with these kinds of projects before. I also have solid contracts, ask for an advance and don’t budge if they haggle for the fees. Its hard sometimes, since you don’t want to ruin a relationship, and a lot of clients I’ve faced, end up getting cold when you behave professionally. Maybe they think all artists are laid back and easy going, and maybe some are, but for me this is my job and livelihood so I try and be as professional as possible.
Do you take interns or offer some training programs for budding artists?
No, I don’t take interns at the moment but I do have a lot of workshops in the coming months. I’m toying with the idea of regular classes in illustration for a small bunch of students.
What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?
I would say a few things:
1. Never compare yourself to other artists. You as an artist with your own ideas and own skills, should pave the way for how you like to work. Its very easy to get discouraged looking at the skill and success of others, and I would say, look at other’s work to appreciate their skill or learn something new , but never compare your position and their’s.
2. Always keep practising and improving your work. Whether its drawing skills or software skills or just generally feeding yourself with good content like great films, books and music that can inspire you and give you ideas.
To see more of Pia’s work, click here