Well, I belong to a family of artists. Dad was an actor; a stage actor, he is still a poet and a photographer. As for mom, she was a poet too. As for my brothers Shandar and Tajdar, one is an animator, and the other one is a musician respectively, that too one of the top five guitarists in India… So I guess I didn’t have to go out to get inspired…but yes teachers in school really influenced me a lot. They always pushed me into art…I went to a school called St.James School in Calcutta, which was not an art school, sadly.I started working when I was in class nine, got into a much reputed advertising studio, “WYSIWYG” What You Seek Is What You Get” in Calcutta. Worked after school hours, While doing illustrations on paper there, I realized that animation was something I wanted to do . Moved up to Bombay…worked around in some major studios…Animation Dimension, Hungama, Webchutney and the journey is still on….
Why are you an Illustrator?
Well I would change the question a bit, I would rather put it as,”Why are you an artist?”I was terrible in studies and the only thing I remember till date was doodling on the back of my commerce books…oblivious to the fact that a Hitler like teacher was waiting to execute me….Okay! On a serious note! I believe I needed to express myself in my own way….free from all the worries of daily life and chores! Wanted to make people happy, and elated…wanted to reach out…am still trying, you know, to reach out and touch the audience’s soul! It’s very difficult but someday I will reach there….Insha Allah. Ameen.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
No I didn’t attend any art or design school.
You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
Arrrrrggghhhhh! I want to break away from my style, style is something that binds you….it clutches you down…it doesn’t let you be free….style is very very dangerous…for any given artist; style is a hindrance to one’s personal quest …in my opinion, one must have variety and that little bit of one’s own signature in your art….be flexible….I always remember what Bruce Lee said once, “be water my friend, for water can take the shape of anything that you pour it in.”Don’t embrace style…
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Ahhhh! The list is so long mate, very long but in particular, the MAD series, the one and only Jack Davis. I have grown up devouring that guy’s work, the maker of Calvin & Hobbes-Bill Watterson, The adventures of Astérix le Gaulois – Albert Uderzo. All the series from Chuck Jones. Grew up watching all the movies from the Disney era… they were thinking much ahead of their time…
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations(animation)?
Chuck Jones…a very humble man…and one of the pioneers of illustrations and animation. All of the “Nine Old Men” from the Disney era…esp Olio Johnston, Frank Thomas, Ward Kimball and Milt Kahl. Dutch artists like M.C. Escher and Van Gogh were also such versatile artists…and draftsmen…In the present day, Andreas Deja, James Baxter and Glen Keane.(USA)Stephen Silver(USA)….the guy is self made. Did caricatures in malls and now look at him! One of the biggest guns in the animation & illustrations …all my respect to him…Uli Meyer(Uk) and Jasen Strong(USA)….wonderful draftsmen…there line quality is amazing…and they are wonderful people, all of them.
When did you start freelancing?
It’s a tricky question, I started working when I was in class nine with a reputed agency as mentioned earlier, it was more of a learning session( the learning session is still on now)….but at the same time I was doing cartooning for various magazines and caricatures and set design for clubs in Calcutta…I started very early…glad I did…
Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
Well actually I never wanted to quit art, I knew that a bit of perseverance, dedication and hard work would take me further….but yes there were times when I would get frustrated, over my work…I still do…but I guess every artist goes through it…that urge to push himself to a higher ground…Don’t quit something that’s in you…stick to it! Sooner or later the magic will be revealed…
Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
Yes, there’s a sudden change in India now…with more and more of illustrations of different styles and mediums being experimented…I work with agencies but am looking around for publishers, want to bring out some illustrated children books, so if anyone out there interested, do get back….
Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
Ummmphhh! Let’s see, there are a couple of artists in India who I really admire, not because of their sheer talent but because of the package they carry, they are wonderful human beings more than anything else…I admire my old friend who has been a good mentor to me, his name is Shyamshriam Deshpande. He is known as Andrew Loomis over the net! Amazing skill he possesses…and then well there;s another artist call Noor Mohammed…another wonderfully crafted genius…his animation skills are amazing. Now I hope they pay me 500$ each for mentioning their names 😛
Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Same as the above for fellow artists( illustrators). As for resources…just browse through the net man! You will get anything you want…these are some of them
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on Illustration as a career option?
Just have fun in abundance, be yourself throughout, from the beginning of your journey till the end where you have to reach, be rooted, and have your head on your shoulders…that’s more than important….the next level of professionalism will come in when you take care of these first…Start drawing life sketches, go out and read people, read their faces & gestures…see children in the mall, they are the biggest inspirations you will get from life…Carry a sketch pad wherever you go, be it a coffee shop or while travelling on train( even if you don’t get to sit and draw, draw it in your imagination) be more open…absorb different cultures, acknowledge different artists around yourself…just keep growing….that’s all!Use different mediums, don’t get caught up with one art medium…be it a digital medium or the raw medium…keep experimenting…Yes! It’s a wonderful career, if you know you can stay in it and have faith in yourself…. rely on your gut feeling… Experimenting and exploring is the key! At the end when you have enough sketches and illustrations…make a portfolio and start sending them to studios across…A good friend of mine once said, “Be a beggar, a beggar will never tell you to stop putting alms in his bowl.” Be like that beggar…hungry in that respect… (but make sure you eat properly!)Patience, perseverance and practice. That’s the key to achieving any goal! Let your work speak for itself…
Mac or PC?
PC rules as of now…
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
George Lucas, John Lasseter, Brad Bird & Steven Spielberg along with abundant questions and with my resume & showreel (I hope they would give me a job after I feed them well!)
What’s on your iPod?Right now, am not so into gadgets…would rather carry around more traditional assets…but still if anyone liked my interview, you are most welcome to gift me one 😛
Thank you for hearing me out….the site is wonderful and so are the people’s reviews…keep sharing and growing.Love and respect to everyone out there.
Gulzar Junaid blogs here