Lotta Farber is the alias that Gitanjali Sukumar goes by. An illustrator, graphic designer and art photographer based primarily in Bangalore, Gitanjali channels her positive energy into her artwork inspired by nature and animals. Her work exhibits a playful sense of adventure, of a desire to prolong her experiences.
In a conversation with us Gitanjali reveals her journey as an art student in India and Australia and her very unusual passion for snakes!
Hi Gitanjali! It’s a pleasure to have this conversation with you! Tell us a bit about yourself.
I like to describe myself as a free-spirited animal lover, a biker, a traveller and a discoverer. All this leads me to be the artist I am today. Its what motivates me to continuously re-evaluate myself and changes my creative dimensions constantly. I enjoy spending my work time in an unstructured work environment that allows self-expression. When I’m not working, you can probably find me enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate and reading a book, or travelling near and far, anywhere there is inspiration and animals around. Born in Madras, spent my childhood in the Nilgiri forests of Mudumalai, I lived for a few years in Sydney and now currently living in Bangalore and moving to Pune, I work full-time for myself as a graphic designer and artist.
How did you find your passion for art? We’d love to know what inspired you.
I was one of the lucky ones. I grew up in the jungles of Mudumalai. I grew up with beauty, swirling winds, wild creatures in the backyard and misty mountains around me. I was really young, around 2 or 3 when I realized the one thing that kept me happy was being around animals, and having a bunch of art equipment with me. It was only natural, in my eyes, that my love for art blossomed… By the time I got to middle school, I decided art was what I really wanted to work on, pursue and explore. I’ve never looked back since.
Are there any recurring themes in your artworks?
Most of my art revolves around my first love – nature, more specifically animals. Its what inspires me round the clock , so its only fair that it gets the main feature.
Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from ideation to the finished product?
My creative process between ideation to the finished product can take anywhere between 10 minutes to 10 months. There are days where I’m so full of ideas, and I just throw it all out onto my (digital or physical) canvas. Then there are days… weeks… when an idea is developing but I’m not totally happy with it, something about it isn’t quite right and its frustrating. But when its done, a few weeks or months later, its when I decide I’m happy with it and its ready to be absorbed to its full extent.
We are eager to learn about the tools you use, give us a quick preview of your inventory.
I work with anything and everything. In my studio you will find the conventional oil paints, acrylic tubes, brushes, mediums.. Look a little closer and you’ll find clay, plaster of paris, resin, sand, beads, threads, foils, metal pieces, feathers… to be honest, it’s a box full of surprises.
Would you mind letting us have a peek at your work station?
(I’m sort of in transit moving everything from Bangalore to Pune, so things are in-between the two cities, in boxes sadly. No photos for now, my apologies!)
What keeps you busy? We would love to know more about the projects you’re currently working on/ would like to work on.
I’m currently working on creating a funky bunch of designs for your online platform. I’m also working on some ideas for a series of paintings I want to get done before the end of year. Apart from this, I’ve got my regular work stuff happening where I’m working on logo designs and collaterals for a couple of events and brands coming up in Bangalore.
How different would you say studying art in Australia was, compared to studying art in India?
I did 2 years (A foundation course) of the BFA from Chitrakala Parishat in Bangalore back in 2005. It was interesting to a certain point.. we were encouraged to take on art and its exploration in a very primitive way. I did enjoy it and learnt a bit about traditional ways of tackling design work… But it was almost a rude shock when I landed in Australia a couple years later. I hadn’t used a computer for art work at all through my time at CKP. I was lost and felt like I had a whole new starting point now. Doing the course at UNSW College of Fine Arts was a whole different experience… one that was everything and more I needed to get out of my comfort zone. The possibilities they offered were so vast, initially I was overwhelmed by it. I couldn’t be happier that I chose to do my Bachelors in Fine Arts there though.. I felt like I had rediscovered my skills and love for art there. It helped me push my boundaries so much more than I could’ve ever thought, kicking me right out of my what I was so cozy and comfy with. I needed that push.
Procrastination- how would you define your relationship with it? And how do you deal with it?
It’s a bit disturbing how comfortable I am with procrastination actually, enough to make me uncomfortable with it. Lately I’ve been making very conscious efforts to channel my energy on to more specific tasks. Lately, my version of procrastination has been that I start working on a different set of art ideas that suddenly popped up instead of continuing to work on what I was currently doing. It’s good and bad at the same time. I get a lot of creative things done, but I need to work out how to set specific time aside for this. It’s an on-going process. I’m working on it J
What is the one thing that keeps you going?
Is there any artist/artists whose work has had a significant impact on you?
I absolutely love Yayoi Kusama’s work. Its something I’ve always looked up to and been inspired from. David Choe’s work is pretty amazing too. I feel like they’re an evolved version of Pollock’s work and I’ve learnt a lot from how he controls his canvas and paints.
What is your most favorite work thus far?
This work here, The Elephant Eye is one of my most favorite piece from my portfolio. It’s dry pastels on paper of an eye of one of my favorite elephants from the Mudumalai elephant camp. It was one of those artworks that I started working on.. and I almost regretted it at one point of time, it was just taking so long to finish, it wasn’t going the way I wanted it to. I gave it a break for about 6 months and then starting working on it again. I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I’ve gifted it to my dad since (only appropriate since he’s a scientist on elephants).
If you were not an artist, what do think you’d be pursuing?
An animal caretaker. Working at a chimp orphanage in Zambia.. or with dolphins off the Gold Coast, Australia.
What about music? How influential is it while you work at getting a creative output, oh and- let us have a peek at the top songs in your playlist right now.
Hahahaa .. It’s a mad bunch of songs. None are from the same genre, but this set always takes me to a happy place. My music playlist keeps changing every few months, but this set of songs have been a constant for a while now, with a few new ones thrown into it –
Ludovico Einaudi – Una Mattina
Sonique – It Feels So Good
Rachid taha- ya rayeh
Craig David – 7 Days
AFRO LATIN PARTY
The Magician – Sunlight feat. Years & Years
Eve – Gangsta Lovin’ ft. Alicia Keys
Bonnie Tyler – I Need a Hero
Gipsy Kings – Bamboleo
Pudhu Vellai Mazhai – Roja
Kannathil Muthamittal – Nenjil Jil Jil
Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
What’s the most dangerous thing that appeals to you?
A powerful motorbike. Oh, and did I mention I love snakes? I love snakes.
If you could give one piece of advice for aspiring artists reading this right now, what would that be?
Go all out. Explore. Travel as much as possible. It really helps with generating creative juices.
How has the journey with Cupick been thus far?
It’s been a super platform for me to get my work out there. I can’t wait to really push my boundaries with this one, make the most of it. And when you guys are taking care of the printing, shipping and customer satisfaction, I don’t have anything to complain about no?
Visit Lotta on Cupick to discover more of her work.