Having worked with corporate designs, feature profiles and photographs, Designer Avinash Jai Singh talks to us about being a whacky designer, working on an erotica series, opening up to the metal world and working for the #IndiesKvltureProject
1. Tell us a little bit about your work and background. How did you foray into the offbeat, unconventional and cool world of art and design?
I grew up in a small town, Panipat. While all things shiny distracted me, my dad decided to channel my mad energy into sketching and made learn the game of observing the light play, people, emotions, colors, everyday after school hours. His persistence paid off and shaped my career.
Under the strong influence of mythological stories, the local textile market and vinyl album art, I decided to pursue a degree in graphic design from ApeeJay Institute of Design. I then took up a job of a Junior Visualiser in Ogilvy and Mather, Delhi. Post O&M I moved to Bombay to explore bigger canvas and got myself an internship under Mr. Suresh Natarajan, and learnt the new ways of creating a better picture, through photography. After some time assisting and exploring a whole new world, I moved to MTV as a designer and a photographer.
Being surrounded by such talented people, it inspired me to explore a lot more fields, like title design, character design and now directing music videos / promos for a few crazy projects for MTV. But illustration is something I do while I procrastinate.
2. What kind of artwork do you dabble in?
I try not to let style drive my work; instead, I always endeavor to develop good story or vibe that in turn dictate the project emotionally and aesthetically.
It’s about understanding the nature of project consciously, emotionally and how it should progress, to convey a story or a vibe.
I swear by Symbolism and metaphor, it gives me an interesting layer to play around with and its always exciting to discover what lies beneath.
This pop surreal world has enchanted me. Like, I’m currently working on an erotica art series, which is also kind of driven by humor and shall be done in a few weeks. It’s completely different from whatever I have done before, in terms of style or concept. Light hearted and play-full. I don’t design to offend anyone, but taking a cranky bit on mythological stories, history lessons and every one around from everyday life is quite fun.
3. Tell us about your association with the Indies KVLTure Project. What ideas do you have in mind?
I was busy painting and designing far away from the metal scene, until I got to know these two guys, i.e Aaron Pinto and Nikhil Udupa. Who recklessly are in love with this scene, and in a way, the reason for me being here? My first metal artwork was a typography tee shirt design that said Hail – Mogambo, for Scribe. Which was fun, but not as intense. With this #Indieskvltureproject by Pepsi MTV Indies and BIG69, I am actually diving into this scene of metal album art with full force.
I used to follow Dan Mumford, and was looking for an opportunity to execute something with the kind of detailing I had witnessed. In this artwork ‘Rager’ I have played with the heart and brain conflict, it looks like a heart on fire but again it has replaced the brain part of the skull, leaving the confusion back again. Most of my work usually has some kind of metaphor or surreal approach.
4. Which have been your most challenging and/or inspiring project so far in terms of designing music-related artwork?
All project comes with certain amount of expectations and challenges, like designing for Coke Studio @MTV album art Season 1 was something on the lines of paisley designs. Which I had to practice a lot before making the final design, as it was fusion of musical instruments and paisley motifs. Also, so many gig posters for different genre of music, come with the different set of audiences. They have their own set of favorite colors, visuals as per the sound / genre. It is quite a bit of work to crack the code and gain the attention, while keeping the design in sync with the culture of that particular music genre.
5. Walk us through the current scenario of metal-related artwork? Who inspires you and what kinds of artists are currently entering this space?
While growing up I always had issues with album art in India, Be it in indie scene or popular commercial music. It was just about an image of an artist mostly, posing in front of a wall or something like that. There was nothing one could take out of those images, and honestly was a disaster. Its not like that western didn’t do it, they had their own share of boy bands posing, but there always have been a culture alongside which had their own visual language growing with music on the parallel grounds. Be it pop, garage rock, alt rock, those bands / labels were quite aware about the visual stimulation an image is able to make. They conceptualized album art / posters and did brand content. Branding, not in the term of logos, but about visual communication, where they were quite sure about what they want to say in terms visual content and vibe. In last 5-6 years, the scene in India is definitely on the rise, though only a few of these artists are doing it, but they are doing it well. And if you follow up, you’ll know. Bands also have come out and realize the power of visual communication, hence, their support and need towards it.
My need to sketch started, when I used to sleep listening to mythological stories from my grand dad. The way he used to describe us the persona of the characters in his stories was amazing. He was man with magical words and a great storyteller. That got my imagination kicked off as a child and then comic books, graphic novels, vinyl cover art helped it nurture.
Favorites are not just in field of metal art, but contemporary artists like Myke Patt, Banksy, Becha, McBess, Diela Maharani, Conrad Roset, Dan Mumford, Mark Riddick, Brock Hofer, Nate van Dyke, are few of them.
6. How important do you think is a visual element in a music festival or live gig?
Art has the potential to create analogy. It can become so big that communities and audience are forced to think. And a gig is the one of the most-friendly way to put across an idea that can connect, communicate and catalyze. It’s simply a metaphor for dissecting all the complexities of today’s society. It’s not about changing the world or practical things around us. That’s not what art is supposed to do. But if worked out right, visuals can definitely change perceptions, and a gig is just another opportunity or rather a medium to explore and reach out to people who are willing to experience something more.
7. Lastly, what kind of music do you personally like to listen to?
Depends on mood, and vibe of the music. Anything from garage rock to metal (getting there) to Sufi; I try to listen to and experience all kind of music though, drum and bass is something I heard in last 2 years and I still can’t decide I love it or hate it. So, whatever it is. This is one of the most difficult aspects I am still trying to discover about myself. I prefer music with lyrics though, I like a human voice / sound in a song, if that’s the right way to say it.