My name is Siddharth Kotian. I’m an illustrator from Mumbai India. My main passion is for graphic storytelling but that being such a niche market I basically whore myself to anyone who wants something drawn and isn’t cheap ass about it.
I’m kinda paranoid about people especially when they say they are such a huge fan of mine. Because even I’m not a huge fan of mine. My best friend says I’m just too hard on myself. But that’s ok. Beats being complacent. Let see. What else?
I’m 26 years old. I’m an internationally published writer and artist. I’ve had two operations to get rid of cataracts from my eyes. I know…It’s weird.
Just think of me as the Denis Leary of the art world but without the looks, money or fame. Well, basically an angry artist who smokes too much.
Why are you an Illustrator?
Its just one of those things. A calling I suppose. Some people are inclined to become athletes others are lazier and want to sit on their ass and draw all day. I like sitting on my ass and drawing all day. But seriously, I love illustrating because it’s basically a celebration of life and imagination. Once you get down to deeper understanding of drawing you kinda enter a secret world and begin to see things differently. You become more aware of the world around you and the people around you and start to find beauty in everything. Being a good artist isn’t just about being technically good but also about having a good soul. I think art saved my life.
Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Nope. I’m self taught. When I was young I was kind of discouraged to go and do the whole artist thing. I was told it wasn’t financially lucrative. They may be right but I still ended up getting into illustrations anyway. I couldn’t help it; I wasn’t happy doing anything else.
Tell us something about your graphic comics work…
I started off working for Gotham studios which eventually became Virgin comics. I used to write for them before and a year or so later I wrote and drew the graphic novel EAT THE DEAD. It was supposed to be in association with Studio 18 and they were gonna make a movie out of it or something but that hasn’t happened yet. My biggest kick aside from this being my first work was that some fans just made a film out of it for a college project. That was very gratifying, having someone like your work so much they make it into a fan film.
Later I did illustration chores for RAMAYAN REBORN and THE STRANDED. Created the web comic SPLITTING ATOMS. Currently I’m freelancing for Liquid studios and working on a graphic novel which should come out in a coupla months (I hope)
You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
Well, I don’t know if I have a distinct style. I can’t judge it. See, since I never went to art class or hung out with artist friends I had to basically figure all this out for myself. Which was annoyingly frustrating and long process. I don’t recommend it. I’ve been doing this for about five years now and only now, like right now, I feel I’m getting the hang of it. Of course if you ask me a year from now I will say the same thing. Learning to draw is a journey without a destination. Every time you get somewhere there’s still a lot more places you can go.
I feel stylistically I’m a schizo. Which allows me to be very flexible. If the story needs a horror treatment I know just what kind of style to use. If it’s a light hearted kiddy story I can do the whole cartoony thing too
Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Does Batman count?
Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
Couple of years ago I might have had an answer to that but not anymore. The longer you do illustrations the more you realize that there is too much good art out there for you to focus on a single person. Some person maybe a great painter, another is deadly with pen and ink. I don’t think it’s a good idea to be solely influenced by a single personality. That way you limit yourself and at worse turn into a clone. Drawing is like singing. Everyone has their own unique voice and style. If you tried you could sing like Elvis but then aside from friends and family the world at large wouldn’t care because there already was an Elvis and he was awesome.
When did you start freelancing?
Start of 2009. I remember ‘cause I was fairly in shape back then. Now that I don’t have to leave my room to get to work I’ve started getting ‘rounded’
Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
Oh, every other day. Heh heh. It’s a difficult field. There are a lot of obstacles in your way and mostly its stuff you wouldn’t normally think about. As an artist you want to make good art and that’s it right? So you sacrifice time and energy to get where you want to be. This all is very good and fulfilling but you fall into trouble when you have to deal with people. The sheer amount of cheap ass people who delay payments or don’t pay or simply do not understand what you bring to the table is overwhelmingly sad. The most insulting thing is the bargaining process. If you go to a banya shop and bargain out there for a mass produced commodity, sure, go for it. But these idiots seem to have the same attitude towards art. There is only one of me and no one else draws that way. I am not a mass product! It’s disheartening to deal with their type but wat’re ya gonna do?
So yea once in a while I think I should do something else. But like I said I’m only happy when I draw. In the end the thing that gets me through is my love for creating art.
Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
I work more with publishers. Ad agencies are tough to get into because illustration jobs from them are few and far in between and usually goes to someone they already know. Publications are easier to approach.
How did you decide to make your illustrations/characters into comic books?
Well, I started off making comics. I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that’s what I wanted to do. So I made my stories and drew them and Xeroxed them and thought it was the shit. Lol. Over the years I painfully realized how much hard work goes into making comics so I put my shoulder to the wheel and did the work. Other forms of illustrations like stuff for mags are just something I do in my spare time. It gives me the freedom to change styles. Try something new.
Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
I hear that Kotian kid kicks ass. LOL.
Plenty of books you can learn from of course. Anything written by Andrew Loomis. Ron Tinier’s ‘Figure Drawing without a Model’, Will Eisner’s Theory of Comics and Sequential Arts I highly recommend.
What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on Illustration as a career option?
Hell no. Illustrating is hard work and you have to deal with a lot of people who don’t care. Most of the time you will spend alone, in your room, so when your call center buddies are having orgies you’ll be stuck playing with your crowquill. Since artists are solitary and weird and generally have to compete like starving pack animals for whatever job is there chances are you will not make any real friends amongst them. So everyone you know and hang out with will not understand the space you come from or do anything that interests you. Don’t worry that’s why god invented alcohol. Once drunk everyone is on the same level.
The only good thing is you can tell women you’re a writer/artist they will sleep with you. The bad part is you will then get syphilis and your fingers will fall off.
But what’s the point? It’s more of a madness really. No matter what I say. If you are born to draw you will eventually end up doing just that.
Mac or PC?
Doesn’t matter, I work with both. The programs ie photoshop and painter are the same. But the mac has never crashed on me.
Who would you like to take out for dinner?
In the real world? my friend Nishat ‘cause she moved to Bangalore and its been too long since we met. In the fantasy sorta way Will Eisner ‘cause the only way to learn something is to learn from the best.
What’s on your iPod?
A whole lotta music. Just like I like to try different styles in drawing I have a lotta different genres from classical to rock to even deeechko. But mostly its 80s rock like GN’R, Poison, Warrant, Cinderella, Alice Cooper, Cheaptrick, Journey and new bands like Paramore. Also really old white dudes like Mozart and Barber. And a sprinkling of pop music which I won’t mention. (fuck you popular music, bring the 80s back!)
Siddharth can be contacted via his blog here