In Conversation with Vidyanand Kamat

AnimationXpress’s Ishpreet chandock had a conversation with Vidyanand Kamat – Illustrator and Photographer about his works and more… Excerpts… Can you give us a brief about your work? If I’ve to say anything about my work then it’s full of variation in terms of styles, mediums as well as subject. I found myself lucky that I always got the chance to work on such a large spectrum of subject. You’ll find many different styles in my blog from painting to pixel art, super realistic to minimalist graphic design, cartoons to fantasy art, editorial to Bollywood art.  I love experimenting. I worked for many different areas like Advertising Agencies, Publication, Design Studios, T-Shirt, Labels & Hang Tags, Packaging Design so on and so forth. Interesting part is I get bored very easily, so I always look for new styles to create which is the main reason that I always try to work one level up and makes my boundaries wider & wider. Were you interested in art since childhood? Actually Yes, I used to do drawing from my school days. I used to participate in many competitions organized by school or through school and used to win as well. But never thought it as a career coz I Was also good in my regular studies and used to get distinction every year. How did you start your career as an illustrator? I never thought or decided to become an Illustrator during my college days but even though I passed out in 1998 from J. J., I had already started working as a freelancer for different agencies from 2nd year itself. And started receiving different projects through my college assignments & by the time of final year I became professional illustrator. After few years, when I created my blog, clients keep coming after looking at the blog with different projects & I worked for them. Till now I have not did any marketing or PR for my work. Everything is going on smoothly by grace of god. You have graduated from the J.J Institute of Applied Art in 1998, with a BFA (Hons) in Illustration. How important was it from a career perspective? The surrounding of J. J was excellent as in terms of creative thinking.  Here nobody was putting pressure on students that they have to work based on someone else thinking but the think process of the student was always considered as an inner strength and if there is any of the weaknesses in his / her thinking then it was solved by the discussion process. So if you are working on one assignment then you get to know 100’s of good & bad work ideas and you come to know the good & bad part of one particular subject and your level of thinking starts growing automatically. So in that term, J. J. helped me to grow in my professional career as an Illustrator. Also J. J Library was a Treasure of many artists and Illustrators which I able to explore during my Student’s life and that time I was not having any other source to review those great artists & illustrators. So it’s like a Visual Treaton its own. Also J. J. Canteen played an important role in my 5 years of course. J The reason being that as many students used to sit and participate in the open discussion on different subjects and funny pranks, which were also creative. Many of my friends who were the major pranksters those days are at a very good position right now in the industry and known for their creative work. Other interesting part of J. J. was that we used to do wall paintings of the Canteen; so while doing that we used to create different styles & techniques of Illustrations. And during that time that was the Big Canvas for us apart from our regular assignments so it was unforgettable experience of the J. J. life. And I’m sure each one of the individual who had spent the time in canteen was a lifelong experience for the whole life for them as well. So J. J. is definitely an important part of my professional career. How much has the experience at J.J Institute helped you? Now days there are many institutions where person can go & learn art but during my time J. J. was the only college where I can learn. Today also it’s a great place to learn. In creative field, people are recognized by their portfolio but if you have good educational background then it’s always beneficial for your career. And it happened with me as well for my smoother take off of my career and then sky is the limit. It’s up to us. Your work as an illustrator needs no introduction however you have done the hat of a photographer as well, Your blog ‘Life is beautiful’ showcases some of your work in photograph. Can you elaborate more on this? I’m very much new in Photography. I’m pursuing into it just as a hobby as I love to explore nature. So it will be a big word like “Hat”. I’m considering myself as a fresher in the photography field. Also I have mentioned in my blog that before starting this blog I didn’t knew the technicality of the photography. Thanks to Digital Cameras! The only thing is that I feel fresh while exploring the nature through viewfinder. And the benefit of that are; the things which I was enjoying only after looking at once, now I can view that again & again and enjoy even after that particular moment is gone. Interestingly, I found a new activity apart from my regular work, which is quiet interesting as well and the results are coming beyond my expectations so will continue this hobby. Do you also teach the art to people? If yes then how has been your experience? As far as teaching is concerned, I’m not in that profession officially but I always shared my knowledge with people who had sent me the mails asking their queries. Mother Teresa’s portrait with all little steps I uploaded for one of the artist who asked me for the details. And I still considered myself, a student as there are many things to learn in this filed and it’s a never-ending process. Your body of work has a lot of diversity, being highly detailed and has a traditional style as its basis. Is it a conscious move on your part to be different? As I have a great influence of J. J., when I used to refer different artists I observed that I really like the detailed and realistic artist to refer. And when I started working professionally on Photoshop and other digital media, I realized that many artists are using the basic tools to develop the art and making them very mechanical so I started exploring further for those techniques, which I use to do traditionally like in pastel, pencil, acrylic, oil colors, or water color to achieve digitally. And later I started realizing that these became my style of work rather than contemporary where the poses & figures are anatomically distorted. And I personally feel that as an artist when you do the work it should come out naturally and not by force. Your thinking, influences and experience affects on your work. Style is not which looks good or bad on the surface but the inner satisfaction makes your work natural & different. You always prefer to work in that style or medium which makes you happy so I preferred and maintained to work with traditional style in my Illustrations &Paintings. What’s the thinking process you have before starting a new piece of art? As I work for many different areas as mentioned earlier, it’s difficult for me to talk about my process because it constantly changes for each individual project. For Example, For Editorial Illustration; Usually when I start with an assignment, I go through the brief for little number of times or discuss with client or director to understand the focus point. I underline phrases that give me hints or jot down words that come to my mind while reading / discussing the topic. Once I feel that I have a good understanding, I let my thoughts free to think from literal to abstract concepts until I get concepts that work for the focus point. Then another round and sometimes it helps to think backward too, especially for more abstract concepts. Then I pick few of them I like most and start thinking about them , By this moment some visuals starts coming  in my mind and once it’s clear then it’s very easy for me to create it on a paper or digitally. I like this approach because this makes the piece that much more personal and interesting. How challenging is it as an artist for you to keep on doing different things every time? More than challenge its refreshing thing for me because from the beginning of my education in art, I always preferred or you can say explore the styles which I have not done earlier. So this was became the habit that the things which are not done by me in earlier assignment or projects, try doing it as & when it’s suitable to the subject. And after working for so many years, now I don’t feel as a challenge but of course when some blocks comes in your mind then it takes time to break them. Who has been the inspiration for your work? Hundreds of artists, which are my inspiration. Everyone has something great which inspires me. It’s difficult to write single name or few names. And If I write all of them then no. of pages will go on & on. Everyday new artist comes in my search and either I like their compositions or styles or concepts which inspires me to bookmark them. So thanks to Internet&Google. In what projects have you worked so far? I worked on many projects and initially I was not having habit to keep track of them in my mind but after creating blog I realized that I worked for many different projects & many different clients. Few of them are listed here like Food Illustrations for Baskin Robbins & Cadbury & Inorbit Mall, Promotional Postcards for Killer Jeans, Crossroads, Pin-up Art for GQ (India), Editorial Illustrations, Cover Pages & Editorial Illustrations for Forbes (india), Movie Posters for Channel V, Promotional illustrations for some overseas brands, sports illustrations for some brands in US. etc. What are you currently working on? Currently there are 3 projects going on simultaneously. One is Bollywood Art Style Project where I’ve to create few bollywood personalities, another one is for an indie game based on theme similar to Game Of Thrones. Creating concept art, character design to UI interface designs and one more is for Kids Interactive website. Unfortunately these are on developing stage so will not able to give more details on it currently but in future you will able to view them on my blog. Any recent work of an artist which made you look up and notice? Recently I saw J. C. Leyendecker’s work on net that was one of the pre-eminent American Illustrators of the early 20th century. He had painted more than 400 magazine covers. It’s really awesome experience to see his work. Another one I saw was David Downton, a Fashion Illustrator and Jasper Goodall, an Illustrator. It’s a pleasure to see them for different subjects. To View a slide show: