Musings: Interview With Abhishek Choudhury

Abhishek Choudhury’s illustrations are a sight for sore eyes. Instantly uplifting and loads of fun, Abhishek’s artwork presents pop-culture with a whole new twist.

Join us as we speak to Abhishek about his fascination with everything pop-culture and get to know more about his artistic process.


INTERVIEW

Hi Abhishek, it’s great to finally speak to you! Tell us more about yourself.

I spent most of my early years in Assam. I was born in Guwahati and I grew up in lush green colony in the outskirts of the city. But then we shifted to a small town in Upper Assam called Moran. That was where I discovered my love for theatre and performance. Moran was also culturally very strong which taught me a lot about Assamese literature, films and art.

I went to Delhi for my Plus 2, which was a great turning point for me. I met many talented individuals and artists there who were also passionate about pursuing a design career. They gave me feedback and shared their experiences with me.

What drew you to art? How did you realize your passion for it?

I have been drawing for as long as I can remember. My parents encouraged me to draw and explore my creative side. One big driving force was my cousin who used to draw really well. And since, as a kid, you tend to mimic the elder sibling, I started drawing too. I just continued to draw regularly – filling up piles and piles of drawing books and slowly it became a habit; sort of an escape or a meditative ritual. During high school I became a compulsive doodler, got in a little trouble with a few teachers as well for making their caricatures! I used to doodle to escape the boredom/ terror of studying Maths and Science. It was around this time that I decided ‘this’ is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I wasn’t exposed to the field of design or illustration but I had more or less made up my mind.

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Desi Star Wars by Abhishek Choudhury
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Mami Wata by Abhishek Choudhury

A lot of your artwork is influenced by pop-culture. What’s the one thing about pop-culture that you like most?

Pop-culture happens to be one of my inspirations. It has a universal connection. To think of it, pop-culture is like modern day mythology. The stories and the characters of Star Wars or GOT are almost like the ancient epics and sagas. I have always had a love for mythology and storytelling, so this aspect is what drew me to pop-culture.

Talk us through your creative process. How long does it take you from the moment you form your idea to the moment you complete it?

It’s different for each artwork. Sometimes an idea just hits me out of the blue in a dream and I start working on it spontaneously, while some ideas may take months to gestate till I put pen to paper.

Familiarize us with the tools you use to get the desired output; we would also love to have a glimpse at your work station. 

I have no strict set of tools for sketching – I’m not too picky, even a simple ball point pen is good enough when I’m itching to get an idea on paper. I do most of my professional work digitally, so my Wacom Intuos tablet is crucial for me. I love exploring different material and surfaces – from acrylic markers to spraycans.

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Queen by Abhishek Choudhury

How do you manage to divide time between personal projects and commercial work?

I am still trying to find a way to manage that. But roughly I dedicate most hours of my day to commercial work and I do my personal work in the evenings.

Tell us more about your association with the Happy Hands Foundation.

I came across HHF while I was still in Srishti. I was really amazed by the work they did in preserving folk art and traditions. Their Greenroom fellowship excited me as it involved working with Mythology and working in Hampi. During the fellowship we had the chance to work with the locals of Anegundi to create a theatrical heritage walk which involved performing scenes from the Ramayana in some of the sites mentioned in the Kishkindha Kand. My most memorable experience was performing Ramayana inside a cave as the rays of the setting sun poured through the rocky roof, almost creating a natural spotlight.

Are there any artists whose work has influenced you significantly?

It’s quite obvious that Frank Miller is a huge inspiration. I love his art for Sin City. Other than that, I am inspired by the work of Tarantino, Anurag Kashyap. I love the visual imagery in their films along with retro pulp aesthetic. More recently, I have been very inspired by bootleg toy maker, Sucklord. His process and his entire approach to art is so punk and guerilla, its awe inspiring.

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The King of Hearts by Abhishek Choudhury
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The Diamond Queen by Abhishek Choudhury

Are you working on any projects currently? We’d love to know more about your work.

I am currently working on the Roadtrip Experience Project (RTX), as a designer. It has been an amazing experience working with some really talented individuals. In RTX, we handpick a group of designers, artists, musicians, filmmakers to create art as they travel on a roadtrip. Really excited about RTX as the journey kicks off in 3 days!

Other than that, I am also working on a cross-cultural retelling of the Ramayana, where we’re collaborating with Shadow Puppeteers from China. We’ll work with artists from China on a theatre piece which brings together the Ramayana and the famous Chinese epic ‘Journey to the West’.

What does success mean to you?

Getting people to interact with my work, getting recognition for my work, being able to explore and travel to new lands and cultures.

How important is music in recreating visions off your mind?

I need something playing in the back while I work. My dad had the habit of playing Vividhbharati when doing household chores; I think that’s where I get it from. I choose specific genres based on the nature of work I’m doing. Apart from recreation, music also provides insight into another culture. When I was working on the Heroes Project I was listening to a lot of Afro centric music; Reggae, kwaito, rap etc. This was helping me gain an insight into the cultural context in the community that I’ll be working with.

According to you, what is your most favourite work so far? 

The Heroes Project, for many reasons. Firstly it was final year project so it holds a special place in my heart. Secondly the entire premise of the project itself, the story of how it was conceived and the ongoing journey of the project makes it my favourite. In the Heroes Project I worked with the indigenous community of South Africa, the Khoi Sans, in creating a series of graphic novels inspired by their mythology and history. I fell in love with the uniquely rich culture of the community and their mythology. It was a cross national platform where I was the artist from India collaborating with people from SA and working with the writer in Japan to create the comic. (theheroes-project.blogspot.in)

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Ziggy Stardust by Abhishek Choudhury

What would you describe as your dream commission?

I have been toying with an idea for a retro futuristic Assamese comic. Also, I’d like to make a movie someday.

If you could wish for one, and only one superpower, what superpower would you chose?

Time travel.

If you weren’t an artist, what do think you would be doing?

While growing up I wanted to be so many things. Actor, rapper, filmmaker, traveller.

If you could give one piece of advice to budding artists, what would that be?

Don’t be shy. Be opportunistic, participate in contests, write to your favourite artists. It is easier now than ever. Put your work out and make the most of social media.

Lastly, how has the journey been with Cupick thus far?

It has been great. The team has been very friendly and helpful. Cupick is a great platform for emerging artists from India for exposure, visibility and check out new trends in art & design. I like the interface, uploading artwork is a very quick and hasslefree process. Also, the regular contests keep it exciting and inspiring to make more art.

 

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

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