On 7th September, the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture in Mahalaxmi, Mumbai opened its doors to creativity, innovation and excellence. The auditorium was soon packed to capacity, and over the next three hours an exhilarating exchange of ideas started capacitating young minds.
Four contemporary artists and designers were invited to talk about the projects close to their heart, stories they wouldn’t share otherwise, and quintessentially their ‘work-in-progress’. WIP Sessions is a passage open for artists of tomorrow to the minds of the creative geniuses of today.
It was an honour to have Kunel Gaur, Founder - Animal, photographer Prarthna Singh, contemporary artist Sajid Wajid Shaikh and multidisciplinary artist Avinash Kumar take the podium to share their thoughts. Here’s an encapsulation of this 3-hour long session of stimulating spectrum of ideas.
If You Want To Be an Artist, You Should Be an Artist - Kunel Gaur, Animal
The first speaker for the night was Kunel Gaur, Founder of Animal, Delhi. Kunel started this design studio out of his desire to work across genres in visual art through graphic design and other disciplines.
Having worked with a wide range of brands from startups to multinationals, Kunel admits that his love lies in branding. He shared a few of his latest projects done for brands like Indiatimes, MensXP, WhatsHot and iDiva from Times Lifestyle Network and Adidas.
Kunel also focused on self-initiated projects like Indianama. In 2017, Indianama created 70 motion artworks for tourism posters. The intention was to give the archaic posters a fresh perspective and create more content around the same.
He concluded his talk by sharing his amusing take on branding through a fictional identity design experiment – Don’t Hurt Me. This satirical experiment pictures how World War III could be a successful case study with apposite branding.
What Is an Artist If Not Work In Progress – Prarthna Singh
Prarthna Singh took the podium coyly, but soon took charge and captivated the audience with the power of her ingenuity and insights.
She stepped out of college with her first photo book that worked as her first calling card. Her early learning about photography was through a 4x5 land camera. She strongly believes shooting films is a beautiful and pure form of learning photography.
Remembering her first shooting assignment in Delhi, she talked about how she shot home furniture outdoors, and advised the audience to always look at things from a different lens.
While there was a serious downpour of work, Singh worked on interesting collaborations and brands that were aligned with her creative vision. ‘Connection with brand aesthetics is important to take any assignment’, she says.
Apart from commissioned work, Prarthna finds solace in pursuing self-initiated projects, and being a part of the community that she genuinely believes in.
She spoke about how she ensures that her work has a very strong voice and gravity. Her word for the young audience was not to believe in false sense of worth created in this Instagram era. But it all comes down to what is it that you really want to say. Share your work with the world, but always introspect to make your work better.
Luxury of Inward Observations – Sajid Wajid Shaikh
A self-taught visual artist, Sajid started his talk with an introduction to his two distinct personalities – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Dr. Jekyll is the art director, graphic designer, illustrator and commercial artist, whereas, Mr. Hyde is the monster within him, the painter, printmaker, performance artist and installation artist. This Dr.Jekyll-Mr.Hyde syndrome has helped Sajid throughout his creative journey in absorbing ways.
He shared a secret of getting commercial projects relevant to your strengths. The hack is to do certain things for the fun of it. Once you do that, you’ll certainly end up getting projects more related to the fun that you had.
But it’s Mr. Hyde in him that pushes Sajid’s creative expression over the edge. He loves making comic strips about himself, sketches of his imaginary dog, and even artworks of his not-so-imaginary heartbreaks.
Sajid pushes himself in the quest of making his art better. It not only evolves his art, but also the artist in him. He looks at art as a getaway, and keeps finding newer ways to escape everything that’s not interesting. He keeps pursuing whatever comes to his head, and will proudly continue doing that.
Every time there’s a conflict between both his personalities, he tries to maintain a balance between characters, and ultimately lets the monster take over.
Keep Failing – Avinash Kumar
While our other speakers shared their multiple projects from their line of work, Avinash Kumar focused on only one.
A design strategist, researcher and artist, Avinash Kumar is a name synonymous to Quicksand, BLOT and Unbox Festival.
He started his ongoing trans-media project, Antariksha Sanchar in 2011, and will take another couple of years to complete. With dropped jaws, the audience intently listened to the story of this colossal work in progress.
It all started with the inception of Quicksand Games Labs, a byproduct of his studio Quicksand, set to make its first video game.
During his journey with Blot and Quicksand, Avinash collaborated with his mother, Jayalakshmi Eshwar, a trained Bharatnatyam dancer, and designed a technology-infused classical dance performance. After many more similar experiments and interactions with his mother, the idea of Antariksha Sanchar started taking shape.
When the project started, his vivid interest areas from early cinema 4D Art and HDRI to botanical illustrations, insect anatomy, toy designing, and T-shirt designing converged and helped him move towards one direction.
Antariksha Sanchar is not just the first video game from Quicksand, but India’s first-ever cultural video game based in South India. The task is challenging, but Avinash is patiently marching towards its completion one step a time.
As a word of advice, Avinash urged the audience to keep failing, for great projects are an outcome of a series of failure.
The session ended with networking drinks by The White Owl Brewery. Creative conversations brewed too, as the audience got a chance to talk to the speakers over drinks.
We have some good news to share with you! Design Fabric is part of the Bowl Exhibit at London Festival. We are also bringing Animal’s Indianama to Mumbai at the Volte Gallery, Worli.
And last but not the least, the next WIP Sessions is on the 25th of October. So just in case, you missed it this time, make sure you book your seats right away.
Photographs by Vishwajeet Chavan