Heading Into the Online Learning Era
It was almost love at first sight when he first saw Disney's film, Tarzan. Dattaraj Kamat is an animation artist and a former art instructor who knows the portrait of animated art in India like the back of his hand.
Home is the primary nurturer of most of our accomplishments. Take us to the origin valley, what inspired you to join Animation art and pursue it as a career?
Certainly my upbringing! My folks back in my hometown reminisce about creating artistic pieces for these celebrations. Born in a family of artisans, I was raised in Goa at my ancestral home with a large family who make clay idols and decorative items used in various festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi, Saraswati Puja and Krishna Janmashtami. Having a grandmother who creates magnificent paper flower decorations, a father who designs clay idols and huge paintings on plywood and loving aunties who are skilled embroiderers, it is no surprise that I was born to be an artist.
Looking back on my career trajectory, originally I was interested in joining a live-action film development course but when I saw Disney’s Tarzan animation film I fell in love with animation and decided it as my career.
Being an artist to an art director, it must have been one heck of a journey to reminisce about. What breakthroughs and fallouts best describe your journey the best? Give us one of each.
As of the beginning, I was more inclined towards drawing and painting. But along the line, I was exposed to various films that showcased different art styles and designs to understand the theory and aestheticism. I, eventually, developed the fascination into a creative exploration of production design with artistic interaction around the world. I used this global interaction to gather an understanding of theories involved in the different kinds of styles.
Initially, I developed an IP project in a studio in Goa. And, this project became a confidence booster for me as it received funding from an overseas investor. Since then, I have been working on developing various styles for pitch projects as it gives me full freedom to develop a unique style based on the formed script.
Within your professional timeline, you have tailored classroom sessions for students in offline mode. Were you to design a virtual classroom, which key elements would be on your top priority list to provide the same experience and effectiveness as a traditional classroom?
To fragment the nature of art education, it has been more or less the same over the ages. As an artist, I believe that the productive feedback provided to the students on their class assignments and interaction with the teacher can help a student develop their knowledge about art and impact the digital learning process largely. Unless a student understands what mistakes they are making and what is the scope of development in the work process, the student finds it difficult to use the given knowledge in his art process. I strongly believe that you cannot train an art student but you have to nurture them to develop as artists and designers.
The second most important aspect would be breaking down the course into smaller strategic classes to make it easier for the student to grasp the knowledge provided. The inclusion of a virtual platform, where the students can interact and engage with each other as well as the teacher, will replicate the classroom interaction.
I feel that any art or animation institute should understand and agree to the fact that animation training is not just skill-based training but is an art form. One has to understand that the skill that is learnt here is going to be used in creative content development in the future so it has to be carried out as any other art form like singing theatre and dance. One cannot expect a student to create wonderful content just based on software skills. Instead, fundamental emotional and social expression of art has to be included along with the software knowledge that is provided.
When it comes to online education, the biggest debate around the town is regarding the quality of education. What do you think of this paradigm shift? How would you mend the connection between a student and teacher sitting across each other against a rectangular screen?
One must understand that art education has to be done in a specific manner and at a specific pace keeping in mind the time it takes for the mind to mature in terms of art knowledge. The more you mature in terms of life the better stories you can tell. In art education, you will need something else than learning about a simple theory or formula. Theory in art is understood only when the mind is mature enough to understand the emotions and any life aspects behind it.
To specifically talk about animation, the animation is simply storytelling that revolves around life. By learning certain software skills or theories one cannot expect to be a great storyteller at a young age. Any form of art requires a specific amount of time as art grows along with the artist. An artist has to put across a certain amount of practice as well as a certain amount of life experiences to become a full-fledged artist. So, no matter what the medium of the art education is, as long as proper attention is given to the basics and the necessary time is given to the student to understand it any course will be successful.