"It’s Important to Always Be Open to Feedback" - Ananya Kumar

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1. Tell us more about your background and journey.

Hi, I’m Ananya, a 19-year-old who likes to pretend he has knowledge about digital art and graphic design. I’m also currently pursuing a B.Sc in Mathematics from Sri Venkateswara College. I love being outdoors, cycling and running. I started making art in the form of doodles way back in sixth grade because I was perpetually bored in classes. 

I moved over to making digital art in around 2016 and started creating 3D and trippy abstract works. I took a break from all forms of art around 2017 because of academic pressure, but soon realized that was harming my mental health, and now I’m back to creating!

2. When did you decide you wanted to be an artist?

To be very honest, I don’t think I have decided even now whether this is something I can pursue full time. I do know that I like to be in front of a laptop or a notebook and design and create compositions. 

It’s possible that I’ll never be sure of what I want to do, and end up being an artist after all, because this is the one avenue that interests me the most. It’s fun to be able to work on a range of projects, everything from social media designs, album covers, brand packaging! 

I don’t think any other ‘job’ allows you to explore such different avenues, sometimes even simultaneously.

3. Is it a financially stable career?

This really is a question that depends on your own benchmarks of stability. It is certainly not as stable as a traditional monthly paycheque day job. I started freelancing in January of 2018, and it has been a rollercoaster. 

There will be months where you’ll earn a lot, and these months will be followed by long periods where you won’t see a single penny. Planning your finances is important if you want to pursue this full time. Since I don’t have to completely support myself right now, it is a bit easier for me.

To answer the question, I would say it can be financially stable, provided you are intelligent about how you manage your income.

4. Who is your favourite artist and why?

Ah, fun question! I am inspired by so many artists, photographer, designers, it’d be really hard to pick a favourite. Still, I’ll try. Forgive me if I end up listing more than one hehe!

My favourite designers will have to be Rob Janoff (he designed the Apple logo, what a legend!), Michael Beirut, and Paul Rand. There is so much to learn from just observing their works.

Among composite artists, some of my favourites are on Instagram. Natasha Chomko (@postwook) and Ishaan Chattoraj (@tharkiturkey). Natasha’s artworks are a constant inspiration to find the beauty in the things and people around us, while Ishaan creates hard-hitting social satire that really makes you stop and think what we as a society are doing.

5. Where do you get inspired to create art?

Most of my recent art is a form of escapism. I like creating sceneries and composites that you won’t actually ever see in real life. I think real life, with all that’s happening around the world right now, is a dark and dreary experience.

With my art, I try and create a world that I’d want to leave for future generations. That’s why you’ll see rollercoasters and cars in space! A lot of my art is also about mental health, and being comfortable with your own self. I question a lot of what I do in life, and that ultimately finds an outlet in the art. 

I believe everyone has the potential to be an amazing, kind, graceful person, provided that society does not bind them to archaic thoughts and ideals. This is why a lot of my compositions have flowers and stars coming out of people’s head.

6. What does your typical day look like?

Most of it is spent in front of a laptop, it’s strange that I haven’t been prescribed glasses yet (touch wood!) I get up early, around 6, go on a run, do some cleaning up around the house, take a bath and settle down to start creating. I usually reserve the first half of the day for working on commissions for clients, although this sometimes stretches depending on the scope of the project, or if there’s a strict deadline to meet.

In the second half, I do everything from social media, reading books, creating art for myself, playing instruments. I tend not to relax too much in the traditional sense, and I think that is a flaw. I’m working on that by taking some time out to watch TV shows and movies!

7. What piece of advice would you like to give to future aspiring artists?

While I myself don’t have much experience being an artist, my one piece of advice would be to not be pretentious. It’s important to always be open to feedback and criticism. If you can’t do that, you won’t be able to grow as an artist, and you won’t be able to work with people for long. 

In the creative industry, while talent and skills are important, it is equally important that you be easy to work with. There are so many artists out there, many of them with the same skillset as you, so it’s important that you bring something unique to the table with your attitude towards work. Having a sense of humour also helps, especially during negotiations about rates!

8. Which is your favourite book and why?

Easy question! Duma Key by Stephen King. It is the first Stephen King book I read (I recently finished his entire bibliography!), and it is such an evocative and beautiful book. 

It’s a book about art, the beauty of memory, and about appreciating what you have in life. It has some of my favourite quotes of all time, and one that really sums up my own attitude towards life. “Do the day, and let the day do you.”

Interview by - Shamayla

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