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The subconscious is a powerful inspiration cauldron. Without one’s knowledge, experiences, emotions, and beliefs find their way into anything one creates. Designer duo, Shrinivas and Shivaram of 9Twenty Creative talk about what makes them experiment with that wily mistress, imagination.

Bumjo Turns Pink
Bumjo Turns Pink

Imagination is where intelligence has fun.

The subconscious is a pot overflowing with ideas. And when two heads ponder over it, the result is a mix of thoughts that are free expressions of both. Entering the realm of surreal and inexplicable gives the freedom to do whatever the pen wants.

 

On the way, trying to figure out the design philosophy, dabbling in the uncertain, unresolved realm of the subconscious. This results in a progressive moulding of the creative synergy that binds together any collaboration.

Kites
Kites
Kites

Surrealism stems from life.

Each artist is a source of untapped inspiration.The subconscious is a powerful inspiration cauldron. Before you know, your experiences, emotions and beliefs find their ways into anything you create. The subconscious is the universe. Our thought process is unfettered. This perhaps results in the varied, bizarre forms that our works exhibit.

Mooshik

Arriving at an idea is not a process but an experience.

Two heads bring to the table different perspectives. A heated brainstorming session leads to a potpourri of ideas and media. And suddenly, a pattern emerges; a combination arises almost as if it was tailor-made. Different areas of interest thrown together create unique visual performances.

 

The right feel and combination is not a structured process. A subliminal sense helps create the story with the elements.

Clients do understand creativity.

There seems to be a general consensus that clients are evil creatures who do not understand the vastness of the creative idea. We have not had to divert too far from the original concepts with the clients we have dealt with so far. We put forward our creative thoughts and try to stick with them.

 

Incorporating client preferences to mesh with the original concept also requires creative agility and should probably be treated as a creative challenge by itself. Having clients give us creative inputs makes the final output stronger.

An idle brain is nobody’s workshop.

It is difficult for any creative brain to sit idle. The exhilaration lies in experimenting with different media. The saying ‘You may fail when you attempt but are doomed if you don’t try!’ has always been an inspiration. Origami, illustrations, photography, designs; there is still a lot more to cover.

 

The challenge lies in extending an idea to different media. The execution, the adaptation, and the exhilaration at the final result drive us to try something different each time.

There’s a real delight in putting pen to paper.

Yes, there is a certain thrill in dipping a brush in ink and swirling it across a white sheet. This training and experience in the traditional process is a must-have for any designer. The feedback that you get from the physical feel of a brush on canvas or folding paper is something that you just cannot argue with.

 

While the classic will always have its place, using technology for easing workflow and quickening turnaround time is only common sense.

The road to the imagination is never-ending.

It is never easy to start by being different. A roller-coaster ride with the ups and downs with all the twists and turns awaits every artist. This is a never-ending journey. And for a designer, just moving ahead with all the new experiences is the key.

Published in Issue 06

With festive cover, this issue offers in-depth insights into contemporary jewellery design, controlling light in your photo shoots, surreal illustration by 9Twenty studios and many more! So, if you like to take a deep plunge into the imagination and inspirational word of these artists, don’t miss this issue and order your copy here!

 

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Whether a hero or a villain, God or Goddess, in an illustration they’re all storytellers. Artist and graphic novelist Abhishek Singh believes that a character is the fulcrum upon which the entire story rests. He lays out the process by listing up few key aspects of character building which results into storytelling.

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The Wise King Bali - An Onam Story
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The Guardian

The character is your plot and the plot is your character.

The story is set in an environment which gives the narrative a frame of time and space, providing more context and believability to the whole idea. Also, the environment has both physical and psychological effect on characters, presenting them with opportunities and challenges to move forward and complete the story. Characters and plots share a symbiotic relationship. They have to intersect ideologically, synergise each other and grow together.

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The Knower of Solitude - Kevalya
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Fierceful

Dramatise to accentuate the experience.

Making your character look more dramatic and unreal accelerates the senses of the viewer and enhances the narrative. For example, adding many hands and faces makes them mythical, taking the story beyond the realms of imagination. For an illustrator, everything is symbolic. The gestures are the invisible language of the universe. The colours represent the various sound and scalar frequencies of this quantum universe which adds intensity to the narrative. The ornaments they adorn help identify their purpose. Making the characters superhuman is the easier part, blending the story into them is where the challenge lies.

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Shiva as Bhairava
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Kansa

Play dress-up with your character.

Costume and props give the character its identity, like Krishna’s peacock feather. They also give the character a sense of history, like where he comes from and what he does. Of course, a lot of it has cultural relevance. For instance, if he’s got a bow and arrow, he’s a warrior. And in the story, he comes from a mythical past with a mission to destroy the demons. Similarly, if he’s got guns as his weapons, he’s a futuristic soldier. Everything must compliment in your character to really assimilate a sense of believability.

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Bhadrani
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Avatar

It’s all in the expressions.

The expression is how you perceive what’s happening in the story. That’s why try to get everything in your work to emote, both literally and subtle. They are an integral part of the character and hence, they hold an important place in the entire creative process. As part of the character, expressions add up to the numerous elements that define the former. And as a part of the narrative, expressions reinforce the movement and action.

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Krishna
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Krishna
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Chariot God

Colours tell the story as much as the drawings.

Colours create a mood. Treat them like emotions. If you want depth, include shades from the same palette. For intensity and drama, use greys and blacks with a dab of a highly contrasting colour to highlight the character. Colours give definition to the character and add to the meaning of the story. Black and white on the other hand creates a high contrast image, where the eyes seamlessly can navigate through the image.

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Who is that which dances to the sound of silence
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The Knower of Solitude - Kevalya
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Bhudeva- Lord of the earth (a roopa of shiva)

Elements are the time travel machines.

Every component in your design stands for something. The use of mythological elements helps bring back lost ideas from ancient texts. Futuristic elements tease the realms of the viewer’s imagination and set them in a state of wonder. It’s all about what story you wish to tell. Pick the elements that will place the character and in turn, the viewers, in the right space and time. Whether it’s about the past or the future, it’s for the elements to create the illusion.

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Episode-05 "The Zicron"
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The Miner and the winged Jarita
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Transformation

Detailing helps. Not too much of it though.

Detailing can add as well as kill. It can take away from the mood of the picture or add great depth. It also helps set the focus areas of an image. It’s for the artist to decide how much is too much. Across the journey of creation, one needs to know when to go with the flow and when to stop.

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Be like Water
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Warfront
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Krishna

Published in Issue 13

Coming from a country of stories and storytellers, Indian animation professionals are sitting on a gold reserve. Yet, we are miles behind the Western world. We spoke to few leading names to find out the reason and understand the Indian animator’s sensibilities and practices The house unanimously opined that we need to develop more original ideas and also create exclusive stories for animation, rather than going the other way round.

 

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Self- taught Visual Artist, Illustrator and Digital Artist, Archan Nair, describes how tagging along with one’s heart and going by what one knows within, helps to create one’s best works and let the best within them flourish

ATONAL. 3D DIGITAL ART. A notorious play of plain and colours.

CG. What role do you feel the expressive use of colour plays in what you intend to convey?

AN. I don’t think of colours too much. If they need to happen, they automatically get translated into the work. And, if the visual does not require any, that too flows out. Though, I love how at the end, colours fuse together to create layers of storytelling, mystery and fascination.

Archan Nair heart
JNANI. 3D DIGITAL ART. A rather lively, vibrant stage, indeed!

CG. What idea/intention forms the core of what you depict, and which elements do you feel are essential to manifest them?

AN. My work has been a reflection of my journey, and that journey is deeply fascinated by the mystery we call existence – how everything interacts and reacts with each other, and where we all originate from; how things are not what they seem, and the more we dig deeper, the more weird and bizarre simple things seem to become, all at the same time. I love that reality cannot be understood, and the attempt to understand it is constantly showcased into what I create.

Archan Nair heart
SUBMERGED. A psychedelic illustration via Mixed Media Digital Illustration.

CG. What qualities do you feel are essential in a designer (especially, a freelancer) to regularly garner commissions/clients?

AN. Just be yourself. Do what you love; create to your heart’s content. I don’t think there is any particular way of getting clients, or any fixed method. If your work is true and original, and someone likes it so much so that it would enhance their project, they would definitely hire you. It’s very simple, I deeply believe, in my experience.

PSYMBIONIC. Digital Illustration of human and the subtler elements of being human.

CG. How do you choose your clients? Or clients choose you?

AN. It’s a two-way process, I think. Many-a- times, there are enquiries from potential clients who want to hire you because they like your work, but want something entirely different for themselves. At this point, I understand the direction and then take a call. If it is absolutely different from my direction of work, I would not like to continue. So, yes, it has to be a mutual collaboration between both sides to make it really exciting.

Archan Nair heart
OTHER SPACES. Digital Illustration of the ferocious tiger.

CG. What do you feel is the balance between marketing, portfolio and quality of work when it comes to acquiring work? Do you think there’s anything more a designer needs to do?

AN. I just feel that the only thing required is to create from your heart. The rest are just human-made ideas and concepts, which will anyway happen on their own. There is no need to focus on anything but create and share what you like. Whatever else needs to happen, will happen. We tend to focus too much time on constructing strategies, but nothing works unless you love what you are doing, and that is all that one needs to do.

IGNITE. Digital Illustration of an Owl, a symbolically mysterious creature.

CG. What would be your advice to freelance illustrators on getting clients without needing to be pitch-oriented?

AN. One needs to just focus on their heart and practice their own work, and not follow any trend, look, style or direction. If your work speaks to potential clients, they would definitely love to work with you.

SHAMAN’S WHISPER. Digital Illustration of the majestic wolf.
client

Published in Issue 37

The issue includes interactions with Preeti Vyas from VGC on ‘How to pitch for clients or retain the existing one’ and Ashish Deshpande from Elephant on ‘Challenges of working with a startup’, along with some best freelancers like Archan Nair, Shreya Shetty and Paul Sandip, sharing their knowledge of working with various clients. Also, Sachin Puthran from Thatzit.com gave a 10-point no-nonsense guide for studios to handle their finances. A must read, if you are planning for the financial year ahead or worried about your handling your money matter, this issue can give you much-needed insight and guide you to a better financial health of your business or freelancing. 

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Ben Kwok, who got his BFA in Illustration from California State University, Long Beach, takes us through his own experinces and insights gained as a keen illustrator.

ornate
Pearl Jam Front

My journey has been a great learning experience, with lots of bumps and setbacks. I guess it’s part of the journey to make mistakes and learn from them. I knew I wanted to be an artist since I was around 7 years old. I loved drawing so much, that I knew it had to be my career when I got older. At that age, I wasn’t really thinking about a career; I just wanted to draw all the time and make a living doing what I love.

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Rams Head

CG. What do you feel is the distinct quality or characteristic in your style of work, which appeals to viewers?

BK. I think my “ornate” style is what appeals to the viewers. There are lots of artists working in this ornate style, which is great because I think this style should be exposed to more people. Aside from using ornate patterns to decorate animals, I feel like my distinct approach on ornate patterns is different from most artist. I like to use patterns to express the form and shape of the subject. I don’t just put any random patterns because it’s important to me that the shape of the animal is properly shown. I also like lots of tiny details, and I do most of my shading with a ballpoint pen. From what I can gather, there are very few artists out there using the ballpoint pen as their main drawing medium.

ornate

CG. What is the core idea behind the intricate patterns and symmetry you shape your work around?

BK. It’s a practice in meditation, to be in the “flow state”. One of the major benefits of drawing is that I get to get lost in the process. To get lost in all the intricate details. It allows me to get out of my own head, and just focus on creating. Aside from the mental benefits of my artwork, I do enjoy inject sacred geometry and other various patterns to compose the drawing. As for the patterns itself, it’s all pretty random. I just draw whatever I feel like drawing. I try not to overthink the process.

ornate
English Bulldog

CG. What do you feel is the balance between marketing, portfolio and quality of work when it comes to acquiring work? Do you think there’s anything more a designer needs to do?

BK. I was taught that I should be proactive in acquiring work. I’ve had little to no success when I reach out to random possible clients asking for work: I’m not great at it. It feels like begging, and it doesn’t feel good. Clients tend to shoot down artists who are asking for work. Maybe, asking for work shows that you’re not highly sought after? So, my strategy is to continue to grow as an artist and create work I want to work on. It’s no accident that my portfolio is 90% ornate illustrations. It’s what I love doing, and what I want to get hired to do. In short, just do the best work you can do, and hopefully, the right clients find you. As for marketing, every artist/designer needs to be on social media. Regularly post your work so it’s out there for people to appreciate. Please keep in mind that your amount followers are a reflection of the quality of work you produce, so only put out your best work.

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Labrador

CG. What is your approach towards acquiring clients, and how do you fulfil their needs?

BK. I just do my best work, and let the clients contact me. I don’t recommend this method because it takes a long time to be established and to have the internet presence. I’m just one out of millions of talented artists that are out there. The only difference is that my work is very clear and focused on ornate illustrations. If a possible client is interested in ornate artwork, my name should be on top of that list.

ornate
Silverback

I fulfil the client’s needs by asking lots of questions about what they want. I try my best to give them what they want, but, at the same time, I’m the artist, and if I think the concept could be enhanced, I will advise the client. However, at the end of the day, it’s what the client wants, not what I want. Clients should keep in mind that the more freedom and trust they give me, the better the work I will produce. When I’m constricted to certain design parameters, the artwork always suffers. I’m at a point in my career where I have the freedom to say no to projects I’m not excited about. As a younger artist, I would take whatever comes my way.

ornate
Cat Head

CG. What advice do you have for young and new designers regarding how to balance finance and passion?

BK. In regards to finance, always live below your means. If you make $3000 a month, don’t spend all $3000. If you want freedom, you need to have financial independence. Try to have at least 3-6 months of emergency funds. Meaning if you suddenly lose your job, you have 3-6 months worth of savings to keep your afloat while you look for another job or project/s. Ideally, you have zero debt, because the more financial freedom you have, the more you can pursue your true passion.

ornate
ornate
Ornate Elephant

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