“Break the rules, work hard and set sail for the adventure to become an artist”
Where did your love for drawing start and how did you decide to move towards Illustration or Graphic Design as a career?
I have been doing doodling right since my childhood. I never thought I would take it seriously and kept on drawing instinctively. Earlier I used to like to draw mostly portraits with pencils and took the challenge to copy human faces as accurately as possible. That challenge kept me going and if I failed to copy it, I ended up crying!
I never found paintings as interesting as cartooning but throughout my college and university life I used to hop around art galleries in Kolkata and absorb everything interesting in my head which later I used in illustrations sometimes.
After completing my Masters in Philosophy in 2012, I got an opportunity to do a freelance cartoonist’s job in Kolkata branch of The Times of India. I was supposed to become a lecturer but why not give art a shot? Since then I decided to do it seriously and kept on making art.
Have you undertaken any formal training for the same and from where? What role has it played in your growth as a designer?
I never took any formal training in art but I did related courses like Film Studies and Aesthetics that sometimes helped me conceptualize a piece of art though not making it. I think performing arts like fine art cannot be taught. It comes from within. You just have to keep your mind open, let things come in and work hard.
How would you define your personal style and how is your workflow pattern for any assignment?
My style is an amalgamation of Franco Belgian comic art, far eastern art, Bengal school and my own innovation. I have been majorly inspired by the works of Herge and Craig Thomson and closer home Satyajit Ray and Mario Miranda.
I take very selected assignments where I can take challenges to prove myself by making something that has not been done before . After taking the project, I make it my own. I read the brief and visualize the scene like a DOP in a film. I build the image in my head from the best perspective possible among thousands and then I take out it on the paper by rough penciling, inking and digital coloring respectively. I also have to keep it in mind that which kind of line drawing and coloring will suit the mood of the artwork.
Which has been your most memorable piece of artwork that you have created? Can you give us a brief description about it and the tools that you used for the same?
All my artworks are like my kids but in some way the most memorable one is a piece called The Alien Durga Puja, the first one of my most recognized “Alien” series . Before that I just used to make thoughtless doodles but could sense something was missing. With that particular artwork I felt like I have gone one step forward intellectually in my personal journey as an artist.
I drew the rough penciling of it in a midnight train journey from New Deli to Kolkata. The idea came from the Durgapuja of the Delhite Bengalis in C R Park who are like aliens in the Capital of India, in my perception.
The tools are just a regular pencil, ivory sheet, normal black gel pen. After inking I scanned it and colored it on Photoshop.
What were the challenges did you face while working on such projects?
It’s the lack of time. There are innumerable ideas, so much to tell and draw and life is so short.
Who or what has inspired you to create such unique artwork?
I take inspiration from my surroundings, films, books, music and travelling. I do not deliberately, for example, listen to a particular music track to pick up an idea. It just happens. That particular feel of that song tinkles that hidden unconscious thought and a new idea is born. It is a deep psychological process. My training in Indian vocal classical music and western classical instrumental music for over 10 years too helps in this process.
After that I cook it in my head, add layers or merge multiple ideas. At last it gets ripe and then I cannot help taking it out on paper.
My parents play an important part in my journey, being always with me and encouraging me. I have been born in a cultural family where my father is a librarian, amateur film maker and also teaches subjects like Philosophy and Sanskrit and mom is a music teacher and teacher of Bengali language. My birth place Bongaon (which is in Bengal,near Indo-Bangladesh border) and later home Kolkata, Bengali language and culture too played an important role in my career as an artist.
What does the industry demand in terms of technical / soft skills from a fresher artist?
Sadly large part of the illustration industry today is more interested in making the artwork look global, westernized to increase saleability rather than giving individuality to the artist. A fresher needs to know some software and minimum drawing skills for getting a job.
I personally don’t follow the industry trends and like to do my own thing. On the larger picture, you need to deliver something fresh and out of the box to last longer.
Where do you look yourself 5 or 10 years down the line?
I always wanted to tell stories. My each artwork is a story in condensed form. In future I wish to write some comic books and hope to be able to make films of my own choice independently. There is no other sophisticated way to tell a narrative other than cinema, especially animation and there is so much to experiment in that medium.
What message do you have in mind for the aspiring artists?
I would like to tell them browse more art, read, travel and absorb everything you like from everywhere and translate them into your art.
In India there is tradition of setting people in a geometric pattern from birth that they HAVE TO become doctors or engineers to be ‘Successful’ in life, no matter what you can do it well or not. But every person is unique in their own way and have unique quality in which they can excel. So break the rules, work hard and harder and set sail for the adventure to become an artist!