Could you tell us about yourself?
I live in Chennai, India. This is home and I independently work out of here. I speak Tamil. I did my BA degree in English Literature from Stella Maris College in Chennai and MFA degree in Animation and Digital Arts from NYU Tisch Asia, Singapore. I like reading and drawing. I live in a cave, from where I work. I love my cave. I’m mostly boring and I like being so. It’s easy on the mind.
What inspired you to explore animation as a professional career?
I’ve always been drawing. Through school and college I’d experiment with illustration and painting and animation, but I had no idea these would help me make a living one day. My family helped me figure it out eventually, and I went on to study animation. Time and circumstance have been most favourable. I’ve been lucky to have discovered what I love to do, very early.
What are you currently working on?
Currently working on kicking my own butt to make my own film, in addition to projects I have going. I get so excited by work that I forget to pursue my own ideas. Two children’s picture book projects and an animated narrative video are now in the making. I’m also drawing one graphic story for Studio Kokaachi’s very cool Mixtape 3 graphic anthology.
Can you name three artists that inspire you and what you like about their work?
This is such a difficult question. About 3000 names come to mind simultaneously.
I love Lewis Carroll. I re-read Alice in Wonderland once every few months (okay, weeks). It’s the best book in the whole universe and I’d recommend it highly. I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast as well everyday. On lucky days, I get to draw some of them.
I adore Marjane Satrapi. I admire breathtakingly beautiful compositions. Her storytelling is something else: It’s magical how her narratives are so tragic, so hilarious and so ironic, all at the same time. Although her diverse characters are set in specific cultural, political and temporal settings that are not so familiar to me, they never fail to remind me of people from my own life.
Oliver Jeffers. I have all his books. I know they’re for children but hey, who says I can’t enjoy them! The Heart and and the Bottle is so moving.
Aaaand…I’ll need a few pages and a few weeks to list out all the animators and studios I look up to. I’m way too nervous to pick.
You have a distinct style about your drawing which I find very fun and whimsical, could you tell us how you developed the style?
Do I? I’ve always dreamt that someone would say to me that I have a distinct style, and you call it such nice things too! Thank you, I’m thrilled!
Fortunately, since I work independently, I get to dabble in drawing for print, video and the web, for clients with various requirements and for diverse target audiences. When I first started out, I was merely trying to draw or imitate styles that would fit that project’s brief. This method worked to the extent that it helped me explore while getting paid, and over time discover what comes naturally to me. I’m not consciously trying to build a style. I’m just having a blast experimenting. But hey, if I have one, I’m really excited to know!
When I’m not drawing for work, I’m still drawing my own stuff, or stalking an artist or filmmaker and lapping up their work. Mostly, it’s inspiring and I get really productive. But sometimes when I see art that blows me away and I just want to dig a hole and sit inside it, and never ever draw again. Either way, I enjoy this. I have the best job in the world.
What do you like more indulging in, animation or illustration?
I love to draw (and sometimes write) and am contented doing whatever involves my Putting pen to paper. So I enjoy doodling, sketching, drawing, painting and animating. I try to update my blog with my sketches and the DIY projects I try out at home
A good illustrator has a better understanding of characters and the visual medium, it is said. How far is this true? Did this help you while creating drawings for ‘Deadline’?
On the contrary, my training in animation has I believe, helped make my illustrations more alive and spontaneous!
As an artist juggling between two visual forms is a task. What kind of projects have you been working on lately?
I have been working for a bit over a year as a freelance animator and illustrator on a number of exciting projects. Along with my friends Jeremy Chia and Ishaan Kumar, I animated for The Diary of Amos Lee TV Series, based on the bestselling book series by Adeline Foo and airing on the MediaCorp Okto Channel now in Singapore. I have also completed animation projects for clients such as PreeVu.tv and Shopo.in. I have been regularly doing illustrations for The Times of India newspaper and some magazines. I was involved in designing and illustrating an e-book for HCL Technologies. My sister Chaaya Prabhat and I illustrated a set of textbooks for Book Lovers’ Program for Schools (BLPS). My next sets of projects are now in progress now.
You have done three animation films so far with Deadline being your latest offering. What have you brought different on the table with every film? What things did u learn from each one of them?
All three films were created as projects while I was studying at Tisch, with different goals in mind.
‘Dinnertime’ was the first time I was animating with a concept, shots, storyboards, character designs and a soundtrack. I asked to animate a simple story that wouldn’t take too much time to produce and decided to explore a common family situation. My friends voiced the characters. It was an exciting experience as it enabled me to understand how the medium works and how it can be shaped variously for creative storytelling. ‘Dinnertime’ also got me my first film festival experience!
‘My Space My Time’ began as an ambitious technical attempt which my friends Tzu-Yin Weng, Kai-Sen Chan, Jeremy Chia and I did, as a final project for one of our subjects. The film was created more to be a colorful visual feast, combining time-lapse and animation, rather than tell a story. Our red-haired girl travels through various painted canvases while reading a book, as we continue to paint them alongside. The film has been screened in many countries and has won awards. We are even now thrilled by it, and would love to create a part 2 when the opportunity arises.
In ‘Deadline’ I tried to portray the artistic struggle that a writer goes through. At one point, just as my protagonist’s character refuses to work with him in the film’s story, my film was refusing to work with me. My teacher Patrick Smith helped me overcome this and we got the film an ending. The process of completing the film become doubly rewarding for me
What is the kind of work excites you to take upon as an artist?
I enjoy dabbling in the visual medium. I’ve enjoyed designing, illustrating, animating and writing for projects over the last year. Alongside, I am working on developing my own content and ideas. I look forward to developing at least a few of these into finished products in the coming year.
As an animator, what do you prefer traditional animation or computer animation?
I am open to using either of these methods and others. I don’t think it matters how the animation is done as long as it helps convey the point, or tell the story or express the idea as intended.
What kind of projects do you take up and how?
Professionally, if a project sounds exciting and inspiring, and is within my capabilities as an animator or illustrator, I go for it. My personal projects range from simple everyday experiments with sketching and animation, to writing down ideas and stories that I might some day make into animated films!
Being a freelance animator and illustrator, does it allow you the leverage to your creative freedom? Does it prevent succumbing to monotonous work and boredom?
It has been exciting being a freelancer and handling multiple projects. I’ve had the chance to mingle and collaborate with people from various locations and have had to handle many types of creative challenges. Hardly any time to be bored! So far, I’ve had immense creative freedom in the kinds of projects I’ve taken up. I am happy working this way.
What can we look forward to seeing from you?
I am doing children’s illustration work and am also engaged in some commercial and short animation projects now. I’ve simultaneously begun work on my next independent animated short film that I hope to complete it in 2013.