Musings: Interview with Ritaban Das

Ritaban Das is an illustrator, character designer, storyboard artist and a secretive musician. He works in an animation and gaming studio, which means, for a major portion of his time, he’s busy creating characters that seem to inhabit his imaginary world. A Mumbaikar-convert since the last 6 years, he loves the rush of the city and its fast-paced living which he says does influence his work a little.

We caught up with Ritaban who was eager to answer anything we threw at him.


INTERVIEW

Tell us a little more about yourself.

Hello, my name is Ritaban Das. I’m a professional illustrator/character designer/storyboard artist. I’ve been working in the animation and gaming industry for last 6 years. I’m from Kolkata, but currently work as an art director at an animation studio in Mumbai.

Ronnie Reaper. What’s behind the moniker?

That’s actually a funny story! When I was studying at an animation institute, a member of the faculty made a caricature of me in the Grim Reaper’s outfit. A year later when I was planing to create my art blog, the name Ronnie the Reaper hit me. (I find it pretty catchy!)

What’s your medium? What tools do you use?

I tend to make the initial sketch in my sketchbook (I prefer drawing on paper), scan it, and then fill the colour digitally. But if I have to meet a tight deadline, I make the entire composition in Photoshop, starting with a very loose sketch. If I’m satisfied with the rough sketch, I clean it up and put the colours.

Tell us a few artists whose works you love. Why? What kind of emotion does it evoke in you?

Ohh man, there are too many actually. It’s a toughest job to list it out. I absolutely love “Creature box” designs (I think they are INSANE!!). Also I really go crazy about Sergi Brosa, Nicolas Marlet, Brett Bean, Miki Montello, Tyler Carter, Matias Hannecke, Sean Galloway, Michael Bills, Ryan David Jones, Wouter Tulp, Edwin Rhemrev, Cory Loftis, Skottie Young, Armand Serrano, Dan Seddon, Frank Stockton, Headless Production’s work.
Where Concept art is concerned I really dig SIXMOREVODKA, Massive Black, Calum Alexander Watt, Carlo Arellano, Eytan Zana, Anthony Jones, Vince Proce, Android Jones, Gilles Ketting, Michael Kutsche, Shreya Shetty’s work!

I know I missed a lot of people’s names but these are artist who came to my mind. They are the best!!

Being in a part of the animation industry you have to play with different style of designs. I grew up seeing their work and each and everyone has their own style. Like the “Creaturebox” people are experts at making monsters, mechanical and sci-fi stuff and the amount of detail they put into each and every character is just way beyond cool. I think I can somehow connect my working style with them.

 How did you get into art?

Well I have always loved to draw and have been drawing for as long as I can remember. I remember spending most of my time with a box of chalk and slate which was gifted to me by my father. Like every other child, I also loved to sketch my favourite cartoons. I usually sketched these animated characters on the back pages of all my notebooks and also my classmates’ notebooks. In fact, I was well-known amongst my seniors for my sketches. I was mediocre at studies but very good at art.


“I’M NOT SATISFIED SO EASILY. IF I CREATE SOMETHING TODAY, I USUALLY SCRAP IT THE NEXT DAY. I STILL FEEL VERY MINUSCULE IN THE WHOLE ART SCENE AND I’M CONSTANTLY STRIVING TO BETTER MY WORK.”


Punk Girl by Ritaban Das | Cupick
Punk Girl by Ritaban Das | Cupick

What’s your workspace like? Your favourite place to work out of?

Well I got two workspaces (in my home and in office) and both are kinda messy! I use Wacom Intuos 4 at both places. At home, my workspace is scattered with action figures, comic and art books. On the other hand, my office desk is filled with random sketching papers and board pins! I have a very bad habit of losing my Wacom pen!! -_-

I have no personal favorite workspace actually. Wherever you set me a computer with a pen tablet and Photoshop, I can work!

Any favorites among the work you’ve done?

Woah! umm..I guess I haven’t made that still. I’m not satisfied so easily. If I create something today, I usually scrap it the next day. I still feel very minuscule in the whole art scene and I’m constantly striving to better my work. But yeah I guess there’s one artwork where I feel I’ve executed what I had in mind and that’s a piece called “Gods at War”. It’s a team of some Indian Goddess with a bit of the Justice League/The Avengers look to it.


“MUMBAI NEVER FAILS TO AMAZE ME, NOT EVEN A SINGLE DAY. I THINK THE MOST INSPIRATION I DRAW FOR MY WORK IS FROM THE PLACE I LIVE AND MUMBAI HELPS ME WITH THAT. THE PEOPLE, THE SUPER-CROWDED LOCAL TRAINS, THE SEA, FOOD, THE CULTURE, OLD HOUSES – THESE ARE SOME FLAVORS WHICH HAVE BEEN INSPIRING ME SINCE THE BEGINNING.”


You contributed to the Design for Kashmir initiative. How did you hear of it and what got you to contribute?

“Design for Kashmir” happened quite suddenly. I was working on “The Lady” series at the time and I think I’d just posted the second installment of it on Facebook. Prathima, who is curating the initiative, sent me an invitation. I actually had no idea about it. She shared a link to where she was putting up the works of various artists and I liked it instantly. She asked me if I would be keen to submit some designs regarding Kashmir but I absolutely had nothing to give. Then later, when I completed “The Lady” series, I decided to contribute it to the cause. I am overwhelmed and blessed to be part of this.

The Lady Pt.3 by Ritaban Das | Cupick
The Lady Pt.3 by Ritaban Das | Cupick

What influence does living in Bombay have on your work? Would it alter your output had you lived elsewhere, say Calcutta?

That is a very interesting question! Well I started off my career in Mumbai and it’s been 6 years since I’ve been working here. Mumbai never fails to amaze me, not even a single day. I think the most inspiration I draw for my work is from the place I live and Mumbai helps me with that. The people, the super-crowded local trains, the sea, food, the culture, old houses(I absolutely LOVE the old houses and mansions in the town side. Wish I could live there at least once!) -these are some flavors which have been inspiring me since the beginning. Also, great working environments lead to good work and I’ve been part of this environment for awhile now. Most of the people I worked with are so damn talented. What I noticed and realized is that, if you stay in this artistic environment, you’ll eventually start producing quality works. Also this city’s got so many options and connections happen very fast here. If you do good, people notice you. There are so many events happening: Comic Con, various animation and art festivals where you can meet with so many good artists and build connections. These are some of the elements which really helps me a lot.

Kolkata is brimming with talent but still very isolated in this case. I think the art scene is much bigger than Mumbai but due to lack of these kinds of events, nobody gets the exposure. Also the option are less. But things are changing slowly there now and I hope the art scene will get a fertile ground to stand on.

You play the guitar and sing. Tell us a little more about your sonic adventures.

Oh man! haha..well nobody knows that part of me. Yeah I’ve been playing guitar and singing from my school days. Had an alt. band back in my college days but left before I came to Mumbai. I have a folk/acoustic setup called “Pilgrim Treehouse” where I’ve teamed up with a guitarist friend. It’s just the two of us. I play, sing and write songs. Last year we went to Escape Festival in Uttarakhand and it was so much fun to play there. You can check some of our stuff out here: https://soundcloud.com/pilgrim-treehouse

Cubism Dream by Ritaban Das | Cupick
Cubism Dream by Ritaban Das | Cupick
Peacemaker by Ritaban Das | Cupick
Peacemaker by Ritaban Das | Cupick

Rapid fire:

Favorite bands: I listen all kind of sounds. I’m a huge fan of Pantera and Slipknot but these are some bands I really dig: Issues, Hatebreed, Alexisonfire, Memphis May Fire, Porcupine Tree, Karnivool, Staind, Coldplay, Being as an ocean, Incubus, Stick to your Guns, Snow Patrol, Haste the day, Goddess Gagged, Scribe… the list will goes on. Tough choice! 😛

Recent movies that have stuck with you: Boyhood, Gone Girl, Big Hero 6, Nightcrawler

How’s your experience with Cupick been so far?

It’s been 2 months since I’ve been using Cupick to showcase my work (apart from my blog) and the experience is really good so far. I think it’s a really nice platform to put your work on, and the best part is the accessibility to buy the posters, art prints etc from here. And there are soo many good artists there too…

Oh fuck! by Ritaban Das | Cupick
Oh fuck! by Ritaban Das | Cupick

Visit Ritaban on Cupick to check out more of his work.


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