Asavari Kumar is a visual artist, designer and filmmaker from New Delhi, India. Her work is primarily character driven with a unique, playful and pliable graphic style. She tells stories through animated films, paintings and interactive installations and strives to create immersive experiences that blur the line between the physical and virtual world.
Her work has been widely recognized across several platforms including the Ottawa International Animation Festival, The Pictoplasma Exhibition, STASH, Cartoonbrew, Styleframes.ny and Vimeo.
Asavari has worked as an art director, designer and animator with a variety of clients that include – Disney, Vh1 India, Channel [v] India, GQ magazine, Cambridge University press, Britannia, Fanta, Bigshot Toyworks, Shilo and Royale.
She is currently based in Los Angeles, CA and is working as a freelance designer and animator. She also posts weekly interviews accompanied by quirky gifs for her ongoing personal project and art blog here.
Why are you a visual artist ?
I have been granted the good fortune of being able to create and give life to things that exist as just thoughts and ideas in my mind – I cant imagine doing anything else with my life. Pursuing a life and career as an artist – atleast for me satiates my desire for curiosity, creation and learning and facilitates a lifestyle in which I get to meet amazing people and have incredible conversations
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Yes, i have a BFA from the National institute of Design in Animation film design and a Masters in Experimental animation from the California Institute of the Arts.
You have a distinct style. How long did it take you to develop your style?
Its been evolving over the years – when i first started using vector software like illustrator and flash – the limitations of the software contributed a lot to what my finished artwork looked like – every now and then i would get tired of my style and i would break ti down and build it up again – it seems more consistent because i still gravitate towards similar shapes and colors and simplicity of form. In 2007 when i was in my final year at the national institute of design was when i first noticed that I had a certain style – before that things were a lot less cohesive 🙂
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I definitely looked up to my dad ( and still do) – who is a professor of computer science at IIT delhi – I wanted to be as intelligent, happy and well respected as he is and also travel as much as he does – I think it was less to do with a career in engineering than finding your passion and having
Who was the most influential personality on your career in the visual arts?
I will be hard to narrow down to just a few but I think my greatest influences have been during my schooling years – both at NID and CalArts . My peers , my teachers and the people i met as a consequence of being at these places played pivotal roles in defining how i think and act as an artist.
What made you decide to become a freelance artist? When did you start freelancing? Do you illustrate for advertising?
I chose freelancing for the same reason that I think most people choose freelancing – being able to pick and choose projects you want to work on, having flexibility to take time off and work on personal projects, being your own boss – etc. I started freelancing in 2009 , after the end of my first job – a two year stint at channel [v] where i worked in the promos department. I have done illustrations for advertising and some for magazines as well but the bulk of my work was design and animation for commercials, promos and packaging. Currently I’m working on a freelance basis with a production studio in Hollywood, CA and i do design and animation work for TV commercials.
Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations/visual art made these days? Do you work more with agencies or for yourself ?
I’ve been cut off from the industry scene in India for a bit and given its rapidly changing landscape I cant comment of how things are now. But in LA at least from what i have seen , agencies approach production studios like the one I’m working with to commission brand films and TV commercials and sometimes spots exclusively for online and interactive campaigns – depending on the specialty of the studio. The productions studios sometimes do projects that are direct to client but more often than not, the projects come though agencies. I’ve exclusively been working on 2D animated spots for the past 4-5 months so i would say that there is a fair amount of animated work being commissioned . I try to keep up with my personal projects but funding is always tricky. currently I’m working on a collaborative interactive project with some amazing artists and we are trying to raise funding to develop the first prototype – to see some glimpses of the project you can follow me on twitter @sugrcoatedbrain and look for #elderjorgodyssey
Was there any time when you wanted to quit the arts?
I think there have been times when it was extremely hard and sheer disillusionment and self doubt caused me to question my life and career choices. But at any point if I honestly ask myself, If there anything else I’d rather be doing – the answer is ALWAYS no .
Tell us something about your latest work and exhibition.
My latest work would be my graduate thesis project titled Parallel.
Parallel is a video installation and a short film that attempts to explore the multiple possible outcomes of the same situation at key points in an individual’s life. It aims to investigate the effect of these outcomes on the individual while exploring the structure of a linear but parallel narrative and the possibility of simultaneous existence of multiple realities.
This piece is a physical manifestation of several ‘what if’ scenarios and the notion that different decisions made in the past could have made our present-day lives much better/worse. If we consider our entire life to be a Meta narrative/Meta universe, then what are the smaller stories that decide its course? What happens when these stories intersect? Parallel attempts to investigate these questions and hopefully generate a discourse around it.
Parallel has been screened at Digital Arts Expo (USA, 2014), Animation Sensation Film Fest (USA, 2014)
and Mosaic Film Experience (USA, 2014) aside from its original Exhibition at My graduate show at CalArts.
Any other Indian artists in this space who you admire?
Ruchi Bakshi – dear friend and a ridiculously talented supreme being, and Shaivalini Kumar – Sister, and co-conspirator, Also a big fan of Mira Malhotra’s, Prashant Miranda’s work
What would you advise aspiring artists?
Create what makes you happy as often as you can, never stop learning and treat every failure as an opportunity to grow. Work on yourself to leave no room for self doubt and don’t take client feedback personally. Don’t look at other artists as your rivals but help others as much as you can. Its a wonderful and rewarding journey ( albeit difficult and trying at times) but I like to think that we are all in it together 🙂
Whats your dream project?
To create an autonomous and sustainable art collective that creates everything from art installations and print projects to animated films, games and toys. I would want it to be located in a ginormous warehouse that has been converted into a studio space with plenty of room to make things and play around ( and an entire room devoted to things made of either chocolate or flan )
Mac or PC?
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Tina Roth Eisenberg and Maria Popova
What’s on your iPod?
Audiobooks ! Namely The Magicians by Lev Grossman and Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull
Whats your Twitter Handle?