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The animation industry in India has come a long way and has a long way to go. Renowned animation filmmaker, Suresh Eriyat, gives us the ground reality of the industry today, and where the future lies. In the process, he also teaches us a few things that make the animation world go round.

The Indian Animation Legend, E Suresh, has been a pioneer in storytelling and animation through films. He currently heads his animation studio Studio Eeksaurus. He was the first to launch clay animation commercials in India. A few feathers in his cap include creating Amaron battery advertisements, music video Bindu re Bindu, the Simpu series for Channel V, MTV Poga series, Johnny Bravo goes to Bollywood, Levis Slim vs. Slim, and so many more.

His short films, Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk, and Tokri, both won National Film Award for Best Non-Feature Animation Film, apart from winning almost 60 national and International awards at various festivals with over 150 official selections globally.

CG. Where does animation stand today in India? Is there a gap in the understanding of what the animation industry encompasses?

Suresh. There are several gaps in the way animation is understood in India. Internationally ‘animation filmmaker’ and an ‘animator’ are similar. There the animator is synonymous to a filmmaker who uses animation to make his/her films bringing in a holistic process to the film making. In India that is not necessarily the case. Firstly, the animation is associated with cartoons in India. Beyond that, it is widely believed to simply be a technique. And this is used in the Indian animation industry mainly to provide a service, as a BPO format. Unfortunately here animation is seen as a skill set equivalent to learning software or a tool, and not as a conceptual ability of a person creating ideas to tell a story. It is not seen as the overall process.

Another misconception is that animation films don’t require direction/a director. These are all misnomers because it is not yet a popular medium here. The way it is taught or talked about by some of the academies in India, also adds to the confusion and misleading terms.

CG. What do you think it would take to change this perception in India?

Suresh. It would take more exposure to see these films, and gathering a better understanding of what animation is, for this change to occur. This will eventually lead to recognition for animation and its various forms. The evolution needs to happen where people become more aware of animation.

 

In the West, people have been with animation for many decades now, so they understand all that it encompasses. They understand that it is a tool to tell powerful stories. In India, the animation is still young. I am sure in another 10 years we will be where all these countries are in terms of understanding of the medium.

CG. When you are making your films, what sort of target audience are you looking at?

Suresh. I make both short films and advertising films. Both have different agendas. Advertisement films have a definite purpose, either to spread awareness about a brand or convey a message. In both cases, a behavioral change is desired. The brief and objective are very clear and the process involves a lot of research. We go by the design process where there is a defined problem, a defined target audience, and a very clear message to convey. The advertising films have a wider reach in that sense.

My short films, on the other hand, aren’t targeted to a market audience. Instead, they are targeted to a crowd who are artistically inclined and who appreciate the process. The films also target the festival audience, so that they see what India is capable of creating. It is important for Indians to not just be perceived as a service but also as great storytellers.

CG. Where does India stand on the global platform in the animation industry and film making?

Suresh. At the moment, we are not considered capable. Nobody thinks India will make good content. Right now, there are only a handful of companies that are known to create content in India. But the majority lot of animation professionals is complacent about creating something original. We need to tell more stories and make more films to be put on the map.

CG. In your work, how extensively do you use the design process?

Suresh. We often use the design process in the craft of film making. Through this process, we arrive at the most appropriate form and direction to convey the story in the best way possible. Different production houses are bracketed for making a certain type of content. It took us some time to establish ourselves without being labeled in that manner, and instead to be perceived as a design-driven production house.

We are known to work with any medium in order to make the idea stronger. I have directed and produced close to 500 films now, and I don’t consciously try to come up with a new medium, but somehow that has always happened. Each of my films has a unique look and feel to them. This is mainly the result of the design process that we use to strengthen the idea we want to convey.

CG. Creative professionals often begin to make the same kind of work, and then get stuck to that style. How did you escape that?

Suresh. While making films we first look at the story and then the form. We never begin by deciding the form. Many people tend to decide the form first thus stick to it. Sometimes clients go to them because they are known for a particular narrative style or a form that they specialize in.

Creating work with similar form is understandable because of our influences. We see things around us and try to include them in our work. But this is exactly why the design process is important. It diminishes the tendency of aping something or following a trend.

 

Our attempt has always been to push the form further than the predictable and strive to make it more cutting edge and niche.

CG. What makes a good story? What is good storytelling?

Suresh. No story is good or bad. It depends on how memorable a story is. And this depends on how engaging and captivating the audience is by it. And all this comes down to how the story is told. Majority stories have a similar pattern, the intro, the middle, the climax, the end, etc., but how you manage to tell the story in a captivating way is what counts. For example, the story of Ramayan and Mahabharat has essentially been the same. But the style of narration has changed with time. Every story can be told in many ways. Narrating it in a way relevant to the context is important.

CG. What is the importance of humour in storytelling?

Suresh. While narrating a story, the audience needs to feel good about it, and humour is a sure shot way to do that. It lightens up the mood and adds a twist to look at reality. Laughter is definitely a great ingredient.

CG. An example of great use of humour is the awareness campaign for Mumbai women that you had created. Can you tell us a little more about that, and how humour worked there?

Suresh. The Mumbai police claimed that in Mumbai, anywhere a woman is in distress, all she needs to do is call the hotline, and the police will reach her in within minutes. This was something they were proud of, but when I checked around, no one knew the number. So I decided to create a campaign to create awareness.

We did not want to go by the obvious approach of showing women morose or stressed ‘victims’, because that does not work at all. Through the communication we wanted women to feel empowered and get the courage to face the world. We wanted them to imagine the hotline was their weapon.

 

The beauty of this campaign is that the way it was executed, still makes it relevant. The form has a cartoon look, but artistic styling sets it apart.

CG. Many youngsters look forward to a career in animation. But Indian parents are very concerned about how lucrative this industry is. How would you respond to that?

Suresh. The animation is unlike mainstream fields like medicine, today in India. Instead, it leans towards art and culture, and these are essential elements of the fabric of society.

 

Another thing is, if you empower a student with animation, you are making him independent because animation films can be made single-handedly. It is like writing a novel. Just by investing time in it, sharpening your skills and exploring different mediums, a career can be made out of it.

If you are good at it, work will always come your way; because we are living in a time where the demand for entertainment is going to grow. Earlier the platforms were limited, but now there are so many non-linear avenues for accessing entertainment like Netflix and Prime. There is a lot of content that needs to be made available, because not it is turning into a library of content. In that sense, there will never be a dearth of work.

 

Apart from this, there are so many other emerging sectors connected with animation like the education sector, AR and VR experiential environments, simulations, etc. There is a tremendous scope and I don’t see parents regretting this in the future.

CG. Tell us why you see specialization as a danger today.

Suresh. Nowadays the younger generations are too focused on a specialization. It is necessary to know peripheral aspects that could influence art or the specific subject one is into. When you are thinking of a story or making a film it requires a certain sensibility towards what is going on politically, socially, and environmentally what is happening in the country and outside. Youngsters today find this irrelevant. They focus so much on their specialization that the ideas they give are no more holistic. When you are a specialist, the danger is not being aware of the bottom line issues.

There is always a contradiction between generalization and specialization. The organic path would be specialization after generalization. I am talking purely technically, but in life also, if you have a wider opinion on things, you have a much better view on a specific topic.

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

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Creative Gaga - Issue 54

 

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Vijaya Laxmi exhibits the power that a woman possesses through her illustration series, ‘Devi’, ‘Shiva-Shakti’ and various other series, all are an exploration of her mythological concepts allowing viewers to see beyond the obvious.

Obsession with drawing and painting is Vijaya Laxmi’s genetic code. Pursuing art as a free-time hobby flowered into a passion of extremes where she could forgo sleep to complete canvasses and thus began her creative journey as a professional artist.

 

Also practicing clay modelling, she credits herself with a substantial part in promoting the concept of ‘Green Ganeshas’.

Shivgami

Themed Concepts of Modern Divine

Sensing and feeling divinity within her and outside of her, she has explored this divinity through her artwork in a modern and contemporary manner. Her work is mostly figurative created using oil and acrylics on canvas in subtle blues and greys, attempting to convey a story.

Saraswati

According to Vijayalaxmi, the female form has allure, grace and beauty emerging from the gentleness of form, the curves – be it the nose, the neck, the torso, the bosom, the waist; the softness of lines of fingers and toes convey a sense of movement. There is remarkable strength in what to the eye looks merely dainty.

Towards Peace

The Devi Series

To convey the message that each female has a different rupa, she has created a series, Devi, which is a reflection of her unhappiness where people see a woman as a goddess but not the other way round. Unlike calendar art, she has depicted the various Devi in a simple manner, without the much elaborate attributes of goddesses with heavy ornamentation.

Durga

She says that simplicity is itself the beauty of a message: ‘Here She is – now you draw your own meaning, interpret it, but here are my guidelines.’

 

Laxmi in her work is depicted as smiling – as everyone wishes to be blessed by her bounteous grace. Devi Kali’s face projects the anger or rage at injustice. Like Kali, Durga too has a more chiseled face, emphasising their strength, both destructive and creative.

Shivalankaar

The Shiv-Shakti

The Shiv-Shakti series is where she sees Shiv and Shakti as one – separate and together but spiritually one. It is a glorious representation of souls, their quest for merger and the attainment of the moment when they are immersed into each other.

 

Vijaya Laxmi sees Shiva not just in a male form but also as a female – the ardhanarishwar. He manifests himself in a complex dual form; the two forms merged in a manner where it is difficult to point where the male form ends and the female begins.

Shiva-Shakti

Shivangini

She has showcased the constant effort of Shakti to merge with Shiva in the He-She element through a series of paintings like Shakti seeking his attention; Shakti with the power of her will, she herself transforms into Shiva in the posture of meditation, but with her feminine physical attributes intact; Shakti trying to create a Shiva into whom she can merge.

Natsati

Traditional is Evergreen

For Vijaya Laxmi, the visual language on the canvas is the marriage of an idea, a thought, the medium and the expression using the mediums. Even an ordinary thing has to be beautified or the art is lesser for it.

Prayers

For her, digital art is flat and does not reflect the energy that the strokes of a brush provide, imparting life into a work of art. The computer screen’s size and the size of her canvases are of no comparison. Working on an actual canvas scale is a stupendous realisation that the good old brush can turn a trick or two which machines may not be able to.

Published in Issue 46

We all design for different audiences and always keep trying to figure out what they would need and how will they react to our designs? But, one audience who is the youngest of all and most difficult to predict is ‘Kids’. So, to get more clarity, we focused on animation design, an extensively used medium to influence these young ones. This issue is full of veterans advice and a lot of inspirations throughout for every creative soul. So, go ahead

 

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CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 54

 

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Generating stories and translating them into photographs doesn’t seem like a cakewalk, but Avinash Jai Singh’s work makes it look like it. Illustrations supported with compelling messages and eye-catching colours and visuals appeal (photography) to the youth and engulf the audience.

Photography

Many times, the influences and the exposure one receives as a child, gives one a certain direction in life. Something similar happened with Avinash, a photographer and an illustrator from North India who carved his own path to success.

Photography
Photography

He grew up in Panipat, the hub of the textile industry and his observations of the colours around him generated a love for visual arts and gave him a perspective to understand lighting, forms, shapes and portraits. Avinash was always fascinated by lifestyle magazines and his world changed when he started his actual learning process in a college in Delhi. Finally, he had his aha moment when he was on a trip to Kashmir doing a series on the lives of people, where he realised that photography was what he wanted to do all his life.

Photography

For Avinash, the story and mood behind a picture take the lead and is as important as the technical factors involved. He believes that they are interdependent and essential if there’s a story, the mood can be captured and if there’s a certain mood, a fresh story can be generated. He hears the conversation of visuals in mind and his way of story-telling comes out in the form of photographs depicting bold shapes and forms. Always careful about the colour pallet involved, he doesn’t like to add too much colour and rather believes in using it in proportions that add an edge to picture than causing distraction. Except for this, even lighting plays a major role especially in black and white photography, where the subject dictates the mood and mood dictates the lighting.

Apart from photography, Avinash is also an artist with a quirky vibe to his illustrations. Contemporary designs which deliver a message with a touch of modernity and minimal colours popping, he creates illustrations which have an impact on the audience. Collaborating with other artists as well, he strikes a balance between his art and the way he captures it through his camera’s lens. Crisp and neat lines with bold and chic colours, catch one eye immediately. Avinash also develops art-series which talk about a particular topic accompanied by his interpretations through art and photography.

Photography

One of them is the gender bender series where he has captured images depicting humans as a “genderfluid”, taking an important stance for the decriminalisation of sec 377. Backing up his work with powerful and effective captions, the overall effect of the art is noteworthy. The series showcases a person who sometimes a boy, girl or someone in between but ultimately a human who is equal and respectful. Avinash’s personal favourite works include Downtown and Google.org which have an amazing visual impact on the audience. His varied portrayals of love, photography shoots for Jabong and a poster campaign for MTV display regular things with a blend of art and photography.

Photography

Avinash uses software like Photoshop and Capture One to enhance his photographs and takes inspiration from artists like John Everett Millais, and Wong Kar Wai who changed the way he comprehends things in his work. He feels that one should keep trying and making bad copies of the imagination one has, until the right one is achieved. Although it is tough to turn the images in your head to reality, he reckons that it is the only way to keep going.

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

This issue is focused on, how to design for kids, bundled with articles full of inspirations, advice and unique point-of-views from the veterans of the animation industry, illustrators, photographers, artists and many more. So, order your copy or subscribe, before print copies run out and enjoy reading this issue!

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 54

 

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Delightful animation and stories with a good sense of humour is what describes Sonia Tiwari’s art the best! Be it visual design, coding or working towards improving the system of early education, she has done it all.

A Visual Designer with abundant experience gathered from places all over the world, Sonia Tiwari, creates animation and stories that attract the audience and makes them ponder. Adding a touch of humour, a pop of colour and loads of detail to her creation, gives her work an edge, as she always strives to create enjoyable and relative content for her audience. Combining her creativity with sectors of early education, Sonia is currently working towards designing products for children to boost their learning experience.

CG. How would you describe yourself or your work in one sentence? Tell us how this journey began for you.

Sonia. I’m a creative storyteller with a sense of humour who likes to draw cute things. I’ve always been a maker and as a kid, I collected ‘potentially craft-able’ broken stuff to paint over them. I’m from Rajasthan, so I have a cultural connection with bold colours but I owe my sense of humour to Indore, whereas Happy Valley has given my art the opportunity to become a part of Learning Sciences Research.

CG. How do you start developing a character or a design? Please tell us about your thought process.

Sonia. Before designing I try to interview the characters and the more details I know, the better an image shows up in my mind. Like for the cover of Creative Gaga, our theme was ‘Designing for kid’s education’ – I was thinking about how kids draw with their heart, so I drew a pencil with a heart carved out, that serves as a library, and letters and numbers growing from the trees representing increasing knowledge.

Another good way to design characters is to build from the people we know, because it not only allows us to draw details of their facial features, but also their personality.

CG. Which software and products do you use for your art?

Sonia. I use Adobe Creative Suite, and mostly vectorized my sketches using Adobe Illustrator and add subtle animations using After Effects.

Animation - Sonia Tiwari

CG. Please tell us more about how you’re integrating early education in your work. What is the entire program about?

Sonia. I’m currently pursuing a PhD in Learning, Design, and Technology (LDT) from Penn State University, USA. Some of our recent work explores educational themes such as using digital technologies to support education in and out of school, and everyday knowledge sharing in social network environments. For my own research projects, I integrate educational media and design educational toys/games/books to facilitate learning with a ‘Maker’ spirit. I also design activities for Maker-faires, by designing e-textile crafts for attendees with no background in electronics and helping them sew simple circuits using conductive thread controllers through illustrated instructions.

Animation - Sonia Tiwari

CG. Being a mom, how important is it for you to create content that kids understand and enjoy? Does your child inspire you while developing characters?

Sonia. Many times I come across topics that don’t seem to have any unconventional resources to facilitate learning, and I realised that I have the skills to address those gaps. I often joke that my son is ‘Test Subject 1’ because as a Learning Scientist I work with children a lot, and having the ‘luxury’ of being with a child right at home has definitely been an advantage. I understand his friends’, parents, teachers’ and his perspective – something that was hard to comprehend when I was inexperienced.

Animation - Sonia Tiwari

CG. Please tell us about your favourite work of yourself and why.

Sonia. My favourite work is the one I create for my family out of pure love. I enjoyed making a pillow toy for my son in memory of my uncle. I designed the caricature in Adobe Illustrator, printed it on canvas fabric to sew together a pillow.

CG. Whose work do you look up to and why?

Sonia. I love the sense of humour in the work of NYC based artist Loryn Brantz! Two of the characters she designed are my all-time favourite – The Feminist Baby and The Good Advice Cupcake. I always have a great day looking at Loryn’s cartoons, Polish artist Pawel Jonca and Christy Mitchell’s Photography.

Animation - Sonia Tiwari

CG. Any words of advice for youngsters who would want to pursue design?

Sonia. Use the right tool for the right task and name layers for the sake of your team’s sanity! Invest in software licenses and expand your exposure. I never miss the chance to visit an art gallery or take a look at art magazines. By defining what exactly we like about others’ design – we give ourselves pointers for our own work.

Animation - Sonia Tiwari
Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

Designing for Kids Special! We all design for different audiences and always keep trying to figure out what they would need and how will they react to our designs? But, one audience who is the youngest of all and most difficult to predict is ‘Kids’. So, to get more clarity, we focused on animation design, an extensively used medium to influence these young ones. We interviewed and feature experts opinion from the industry leaders such as Suresh Eriyat, Dhimant Vyas and Vaibhav Kumaresh to ponder on the use of animation for early education. Our cover designer, Sonia Tiwari, an animator, and visual designer, shared her thoughts on ‘How to make learning fun again’. While Suresh Eriyat emphasises on using animation as an effective medium for education, on the other hand, Dhimant Vyas and Vaibhav gave advice on how to make content for the young ones.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 54

 

Dhimant Vyas
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Animation is for everyone! Dhimant Vyas, the veteran artist and animation film designer, throws light on the future of animation and the role it plays in education.

Animation is a versatile medium that caters to a wide range of audiences. But with this versatility comes the grave responsibility of creating relevant content. The right content will not only increase the popularity of animation but also have a healthy impact on children.

Challenges of Making for all Ages

The animation is for all ages! It is a powerful and universal communication medium. The beauty of animation is that it can tell a story even without the need for dialogues. Some good examples are Tom & Jerry, Shaun the Sheep and Minuscule. Charging a below-par rate is going to hurt you, over time. Talk to your peers and know the general rates. Sources like ArtPact, Glassdoor, etc. help find out the hourly and per piece rates for illustrations and such.

Shaun and Sheep - Animation -Dhimant Vyas

The real challenge though is faced at the pre-production stages like scripting and storyboarding. It requires careful planning to convey a story without dialogues. Everyone has a child within them, and animation is a great way to bring out this child. But this is possible only by bringing out perfect emotions, mood and actions through different mediums of animation.

Animation -Dhimant Vyas

The Future of Animation in India

The animation industry in India has changed drastically in the last 20 years. There was a time where only a handful of people knew the meaning of animation. Very few individuals were involved in this field, the animation studios were small and sparse, and the institutes themselves weren’t that many.

Today this industry has gained quite a bit of popularity. The growth is slow, but I am very hopeful about the future. We need a wider audience to be interested in animation like in Japan. In Japan, animation and comics are far more popular than live-action films.

One advantage of the digital age is that knowledge and learning are just a click away. Earlier our avenues of learning were limited to animation books, VHS cassettes, and a few movies that played in the theatres. Today the possibilities are unlimited.

For a better future, we all need to work together, especially youngsters. Instead of looking for the easy way out, they should focus on quality, creativity, innovative ideas, new styles, and above all a better storytelling.

Roles of Animation in Learning

The animation is most watched by children. Hence, we have a responsibility to create good content. Children are impressionable and the learning at that age leaves a great impact. Television channels need to be careful about the content they air. Even parents need to be aware of the different consequences of being exposed to different content and thus ensure children watch only the right material.

We often find shows with extreme violence that could negatively impact children. It is important for creators of animation to take responsibility and create positive content, to help nurture the children’s minds.

Creative Gaga - Issue 46 - Cover

Published in Issue 46

We all design for different audiences and always keep trying to figure out what they would need and how will they react to our designs? But, one audience who is the youngest of all and most difficult to predict is ‘Kids’. So, to get more clarity, we focused on animation design, an extensively used medium to influence these young ones. We interviewed and feature experts opinion from the industry leaders such as Suresh Eriyat, Dhimant Vyas and Vaibhav Kumaresh to ponder on the use of animation for early education. Our cover designer, Sonia Tiwari, an animator, and visual designer, shared her thoughts on ‘How to make learning fun again’. While Suresh Eriyat emphasises on using animation as an effective medium for education, on the other hand, Dhimant Vyas and Vaibhav gave advice on how to make content for the young ones.

 

Order Your Copy!
CURRENT ISSUE
Creative Gaga - Issue 54

 

Avinash Jai Singh
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Avinash Jai Singh, on a spiritual journey with his art that he believes can challenge one’s preconceived notions; Avinash Jai Singh is a multi-discipline artist and a commercial photographer. He is an illustrator whose art invokes curiosity and the hunger for exploration.


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