Anoop Bhat is an architect and a freelance illustrator currently based in Bangalore, India. Born in Mangalore, he studied at Sir J. J. College of Architecture, Bombay. He works primarily in pen and ink and creates illustrations for gig posters, album covers and t-shirts for bands. He is currently exhibiting some of his work across venues in the UK as a part of the ‘Self Help’ art tour, a traveling exhibition put on by Cats and Bats – an art collective from Hereford, UK.
Why are you an Illustrator?
I have been drawing since a very young age, so that’s been there. I was decent at it and I didn’t have plans as such to make anything out of it. It did get me interested in design, so I chose architecture. I thought architecture was all-inclusive in a very mother-of-all-arts sort of a way – meaning, I knew I wanted to get into design but I didn’t want to restrict myself to say, graphic design or product design. Architecture allowed me to dabble in a bit of everything, including illustration.
If I had to pin-point a particular instance, it would be when I started listening to the kind of music that I listen to – heavily distorted, guitar-based music. It introduced me to a whole bunch of stuff – art, literature, history and of course, more experimental music. That’s what set off my interest in the relationship between art and music, their inter-dependence and the sub-cultures they’ve spawned together. I just wanted to be a part of it somehow and contribute to it in whatever little way that I could. I was pretty terrible with playing any instrument (still am) but I was decent at drawing things – so I said that’s it. That’s how it began really and it is why I’m still at it – to actively contribute to this sub-culture that I identify with.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
I didn’t for fine art per se but I studied architecture design at Sir J. J. School of Architecture. I absolutely love that place.
You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I wouldn’t say that really, if there’s anything it’s the use of pen and ink along with the minimal use of colours. It is how I’ve drawn since I was a child. So I’m not certain if I have found a ‘style’ but I’d like to believe that I’m getting there. For now, I’m just doing what I’m most comfortable doing.
That said, the medium that I work within isn’t limiting by any means, the kind of dynamism and complexity that can be achieved just within it is incredible and I think, drawing the natural physical world including plants, landscapes and creatures helps me explore a variety of textures and patterns.
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Stanley Miller, Rick Griffin, Roger Dean & Syd Mead.
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
David D’Andrea – his earlier works for Life is Abuse, Om, Sleep etc is what inspired me to take up drawing in pen and ink. I see clarity in his work, I think they capture the essence of a band’s music quite beautifully. It’s what I’m always trying with my own work.
What made you decide to become a freelance illustrator? When did you start freelancing? Do you illustrate for advertising?
I did my first ever poster while I was still in college. It was a gig poster for, Djinn and Miskatonic, a doom band from Bangalore. That show had a terrific line-up. I was really happy with it. It did good, I sold a few prints at the gig and I soon started getting more requests – so I was all ‘hey this could very well be a thing’ and that’s how it all began.
Advertising? No, or at least I haven’t so far. I haven’t felt the need to really. You must understand, I get to work on commissions only during weekends or holidays. I have a dayjob which keeps me busy during the week and I draw on weekends, basically on my leisure time, and that’s how I’d like it to remain. None of this pays my bills but it lets me have an outlet and I like that.
Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
I wouldn’t know really but to go by what some of my fellow illustrator friends are doing, I think there has been a discernible ‘shift’. It’s been slow but it is happening.
Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
Haha, no. I have just started.
Have you considered turning your illustrations into toys?
Nobody’s asked me that before. I don’t think it’s a great idea. I mean I can see it work great with some of Jermaine Rogers or Alan Forbes stuff but maybe not with the stuff I do.
Any Indian Illustrators who you admire?
Vasudevan Namboothiri, Sameer Kulavoor, Jas Charanjiva, Jasjyot Singh Hans, George Mathen, Anand Radhakrishnan, Pia Meenakshi, Rahul Chacko, Jit Choudhary, Sonali Zohra, Xi Lu.
Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Tony Roberts, Rich Knepprath, David V D’Andrea, Adrian Baxter, Mike Lawrence, Alexander Brown, Zane Prater, Bryan Proteau, Brian Luoung, Michelle Yu, Ajka13 and Kaska Niemiro are some of the contemporary artists whose work greatly influences where I want to be visually.
Other than that, Brandon Duncan, Ross D Mckendrick, Ikbal Arifin Suradi, Sammy Dutto & Henry Bennett are some of the fellow illustrators that I really like.
You have such a wide experience as a top working professional. What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on Illustration as a career option? Is it paying well enough?
To keep at it, no matter what.
A complete career switch isn’t viable for someone like me who works in such a strict space, you see. I make posters for gigs, t-shirt designs for bands who by and large belong to the heavy metal or punk/hardcore sub-culture. Most of them operate on DIY budgets, so there’s not a lot of money. I’m not complaining, it is the space I’m most comfortable working within and I like it. There are projects that I’ll take and a whole lot of projects that I won’t. It is really important for me to be able to have that kind of freedom. I use drawing as an exercise to unwind and I can’t let anything take that away from me.
Whats your dream project?
May be it is too soon to talk about it but I wouldn’t deny it’s the project I’m most looking forward to. I’m lucky to have some really talented people as my closest friends. We’re all busy doing our own thing at the moment and I appreciate that but I see it converging toward an all-encompassing, multi-disciplinary design studio – a studio that’ll operate in the fields of, but won’t limit to, architecture and design. Sure, we haven’t chalked out any details but its been there at the back of our heads and it excites us just thinking about it.
Oh and if this question was about my ‘dream commission’, I’d love to do some art for Thou, this sludge metal outfit from Louisiana who are my favourite band at the moment.
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Sameer Kulavoor. I have utmost admiration for the work his studio does. I think it would be cool to sit and talk to him about how he went about things.
What’s on your iPod?
Kowloon Walled City – Grievances
We Lost The Sea – Departure Songs
Ride – Smile
Fudge Tunnel – Hate Songs in E Minor
Yautja – Songs of Lament
Whats your Twitter Handle?