Yatish Asthana : Interview with a Graphic Designer/Illustrator

Yatish is an Illustrator, Infographist and Graphic Designer . He has a Bachelor’s degree in Animation and Multimedia from Birla Institute Of Technology, Mesra , Ranchi . He has grown up watching all classic cartoons which inspired him to chose creative career.

Apart from Sketching and doodling , he loves spending time with friends and watching movies.
You can see his works at his portfolio site online.

Why are you an Illustrator?
I have been sketching since my schooldays. I am really happy being into a profession which has still kept the “small kid” inside me alive. I am paid for doing what i love to, and that’s the best part for me being an illustrator

Did you attend school for fine art or design?
I attended Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, Ranchi and studied animation and multimedia.

You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I keep experimenting with my art style. I think its good to experiment. You always get something new and unexpected which adds value to your style. I have been sketching since long, but last two two years have been prominent in this aspect. I am still working on betterment and refining of my style.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My grandfather. He has always been an inspiration. Also the amazing colleagues and people whom i have worked with.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
My family and friends. They have always supported me and my career choice. They have inspired and motivated me a lot. Besides them , the amazing artists whom I have interacted with on social media or personally. There is always a positive response while talking to any artist . I really appreciate them all.

What made you decide to become a freelance illustrator? When did you start freelancing? Do you illustrate for advertising?
Although there are plenty creative agencies out there, still very few offer illustrations in specific. So its big opportunity and option for illustrators to freelance. I have been working since last 3 and half years.
I have worked with Media groups like Mail Today (India Today group) and HT Media group.
I have worked on a number of projects varying from merchandising, custom artworks to commissioned sketches.

Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
Yes, illustration design is getting popular day by day. Today, more brands want their promotion/advertising to be done in form of illustrations, be it digital or traditional. It catches more attention than normal trend.
I have been working with News Media groups since last two and half years.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
No. I never get bored of illustrating.

Have you considered turning your illustrations into toys?
I would love to 🙂 It would be great to see my paper artwork turning into cool toys.

Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
I have grown up seeing cartoons by Mario Miranda and RK Laxman . They have inspired me a lot. I also follow artists like Dattraj Kamat, Amit Tayal, Abhishek Singh, Faisal Mohammad. I try to learn and gain most from these artists.

Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
There are a number of amazing artists i follow. Pascal Campion, Kerby Rosanes, Mattias Adolfson, Chris Sanders are few of the superb artists i admire.

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?
Practice and Patience !! Keep experimenting with your art style and most importantly ENJOY your work !
Being illustrator is amazing career choice ! It would surely pay you good if you are working hard .

Mac or PC?
I have worked both on Mac and PC, but PC is more comfortable for me.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Any pretty girl who would love to join. 🙂

What’s on your iPod?
Honestly, I don’t have any specific choice when it comes to music. I usually switch on the music at low volume and work. It adds a background and creates a peaceful environment to work.






Sheel Damani : Interview With a Graphic Designer

Sheel Damani is a communication design consultant.

She loves telling stories. And tell them very fast. At work, she comes wearing a long chain of ‘Whys’ — her favourite pass time is to tell people how design can change the world. Not with Helvetica but with the overused jargon ‘design thinking’ which is another fancy term for thinking in context. She loves editing more than writing. Evidently, OCD to clean/align is one of her natural traits.

Why are you a Graphic Designer?
Because I wanted to be a designer. Graphic design just happened to be the discipline that I started with.

Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Yes. I have a Bachelor in Design (Fashion Communication) from National Institute of Fashion Technology, New Delhi.

You have a distinct style of Design. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I don’t intend to have a distinct style. Its bad if I have one. Design is not meant to communicate about a designer. It is meant for the users. It should be in their style.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
My role models were always people around me. My family and teachers. I always wanted to be like my (elder) sister. I copied her all the time.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in graphic design?
Just one name is insufficient. Words by Michael Wolff have lasted with me since Design yatra 2010. His approach to design, detail and human perceptions add a lot of perspective to a designer’s work. There are two people who made my work more exciting along the way. One used to be my creative head in Goa, Anurashi Shetty. She introduced me to the art and importance of writing. The second one is my current team’s head from New Delhi, Abhishek Rai (@Abhishek_Rai). He has introduced me to design as a discipline like no other. Designing for a user and talking about it are two different things. It is now that I have learnt to design for a user. Long way to go still.

When did you start freelancing?
I started freelancing in 2012 from Ahmedabad.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit graphic design?
Yes. When I had just started working. I always felt I am not good enough. Slowly, I realised the only way out was practicing more. Working on several projects and identifying where I fit in best to help people.

Are many advertising agencies hiring graphic designers? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
I work with startups and SMEs. My strengths along with visual aesthetics are analysis and writing. I work on projects related to branding, info graphics, communication strategy and marketing for businesses. Currently learning a lot in the field of digital marketing. The team I work with from Delhi has launched a tool for brand managers —

Do you have clients who give you steady work or do you advertise for new clients often?
Fortunately, there has been no time to advertise for new clients. I have to share availability and follow up in most cases to get projects. I have been working with Shack Co. from New Delhi and their tool BuildYourCommunity for nearly two years. They have a fantastic way of working remotely.

Any other Indian graphic designers who you admire?
There are plenty. Orijit Sen, Nina Paley, Amardeep Bahl (Museum design), Kriti Monga, Broti Bhattacharya, Satwik Gade and most of my friends.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals? Would you advise them to take on graphic design as a career option?
Most of the kids who ask me about design are attracted to some ‘cool’ factor associated with it. As all the people in this world say, it is a lot of hard work — I would say the same. But it’s the kind that gives you great joy. Now, I know why its a cliched. Yes, it is a good career option. Graphic designers are good storytellers and the world needs them 🙂

Do you think Clients are opening up to keeping aside a decent respectable budget for design work? Do you think clients are understanding that they need to invest in Design as a communication tool and also to cut the clutter, and that good design comes at a price?
Largely, yes. Startups definitely see value in it. ‘Good design is good business’ — an IBM belief, shared by many more companies now. Thank God 😉

Mac or PC?
Mac. Always.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Tough question 🙂

What’s on your iPod?
Khichdi of bollywood, soft rock, coke studio, devotional and instrumental. I am not kidding.














Anisha Sahni : Interview with a Digital Art Director

Anisha Sahni | Art Director, FoxyMoron – North

Why are you into Advertising?
I have always wanted to work in a creative industry. Be it advertising or animation. However, currently 3D animation especially in India has a long way to go. The characterization and 2D elements of animation are what caught my interest and I realized that I could apply the same fundamentals in Advertising. Cracking the idea, conceptualizing and executing the look along with marketing the idea, is how an animation is produced. It’s the same in advertising, but only quicker. That is what grabbed my interest and the fact that you could really think completely outside the box and not be limited to a script.


Adil Siddiqui : Designer

Adil Siddiqui is a Mumbai based Pixel Builder aka Designer. He is currently working with a startup called Genii where he Designs User Interfaces and Build User Experiences, he also makes simple and fun illustrations in his free time. He is very creative and passionate in whatever he does, loves his friends, loves Mumbai, loves Mustang 1967 and loves Chicken(deep fried).

His personal illustration / graphic design work can be found on his Tumblr and recently he has started posting some of his professional work on his Behance.

Why are you a Graphic Designer?
Well honestly I don’t know, I never thought I will end up being one. I was one of those who never use to think about my future and what I wanted to do with my life. In college I studied Commerce and then Computer Science. I had no idea what I was doing until I stumbled upon Photoshop and Illustrator and all of a sudden I developed a keen interest in designing. ( I still can’t believe I became a designer)

Did you attend school for fine art or design?

You have a distinct style of Design. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I’m still developing it, I normally scribble my ideas on paper and then develop them directly in illustrator. I’m horrible at traditional way of drawing so I use a Wacom tab to draw digitally which gives me the liberty of ‘ctrl + z’.


Uttam Sinha : Graphic Designer

Introduction – “I want to be the best graphic designer in the world.” “I want to win every award that exists, from Cannes to D&AD.” “I want to be the next big thing.” Well, if you think all this matter to Uttam Sinha, you’ll be disappointed. Here’s a guy with no such ambitions. All he wants to do in life is to bring smile in people’s faces, with his work, or without it. His mantra in life is very simple: create work that’s loved by all.

Why are you a Graphic Designer?
Honestly, I never desired to be a graphic designer. It all started with the doodling on he back pages of school notebooks, and gradually one thing led to the other. Frankly, I still don’t consider myself as a graphic designer. I am more engrossed in the work I do, rather than the designation people give.

Did you attend school for fine art or design?
I did my bachelors from College of Art, New Delhi.


Sujoy Roy: Interview with a Senior Creative Director

Sujoy joined advertising because it allowed him to go to work in his cargo shorts. He is convinced that Superman exists. Has a couple of imaginary friends. And echoes Christopher Nolan’s belief that an idea is the most resilient parasite in the world. 

11 years in the industry. 11 years at Ogilvy. 2 offices in India. And an expat stint at Ogilvy Sri Lanka has collectively increased his insatiable appetite for great work and ideas beyond boundaries. He has a Cannes lion and an Ad fest Gold along with credits at the London International Festival, Young Guns and World Press Awards. If he is on leave, you’ll find him fishing for talent as a visiting faculty at media institutes or creating curious Bong and Chinese concoctions at his father’s restaurant in Kolkata.

Why are you into Advertising?
Because I hate wearing a tie and absolutely despise formal trousers.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
No. I learnt how to use alphabets to form words and sentences in school. And heading the Students Union as General Secretary of Presidency College, Kolkata, taught me everything I needed to know about management.

Tell us about your recent work campaign?
We have recently rolled out a campaign for Kwiknic, a nicotine gum from ITC and pulled off a charming poster on Hot Wheels.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Yes. My dad is my hero. I have inherited his energy and passion. And my bosses Sumanto Chattopahyay and Zenobia Pithawalla are the reason why I have reached where I have. Without them I would have ended up as just another anonymous summer trainee at Ogilvy Mumbai.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
Piyush Pandey.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
By observing my 19-month-old son. He is the most creative person I know.

Tell us something about Ogilvy and Mather, Kolkata work environment.
Well, we’re a tight nucleus as a team. There are no cubicles. Its just one big floor full of loud and boisterous people jamming together to create meaningful work. And we hate to introduce ourselves as colleagues.

Tell us about your first job in Advertising.
I started with Ogilvy Mumbai. When the office was at Lower Parel. It was that Alice in Wonderland feeling. Distinct. Heady. And mind-boggling. I mean, Piyush Pandey walking up and down the isles of the Creative Department. That rabbit hole was the most colourful one I have ever seen.

What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now? At least here in India, the released work is most often too sad.
Good print advertising still works like magic. You just need to change the lens on it. I think the static work on the web is very similar to print advertising. Print, I guess, is evolving.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
Ab-so-lute-ly. Advertising that’s effective is creative. Look at Dove ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ and Dumb ways to die.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
Build a book that you’d like to place next to you in your grave.

Your dream project?
I would love to write an animation film for my son and get Pixar to do it.

Your upcoming campaigns, if you can talk about it 🙂
That wouldn’t be wise, right?

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My wife, Sharmishtha. I can’t remember the last time we went out for dinner. We are the proud parents of a toddler, you see.

What’s on your iPod?
I don’t own one.

Mac or PC?



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Manish Kinger : Interview with a copywriter

Manish Kinger or Bomber, as he is fondly known in the corridors of Grey (Delhi), considers himself to be an accidental writer/ad man. A compulsive reader, an incorrigible blogger and an unapologetic Facebook addict, Kinger likes to keep it simple— he reads, he writes, and advertising happens as a consequence. When not dissecting creative briefs and fishing insights, Kinger runs a book club in Gurgaon (Gurgaon Book Club) and is currently working on creating a platform that will redefine the art of storytelling.

Why are you into Advertising?
I did not choose advertising, it chose me. I was a below average Engineer who hopped from one job to the other until he finally ran out of hopptions. Joblessness for over six months, Blogging (ranting/venting) for another three, one thing lead to the other, and I got my first advertising offer. But now, almost five years down the line, I’ve surrendered to the fact that there’s nothing else in the world that I would rather do. Or can do. I am a writer; I have made my peace with it. I enjoy being woken up by a thought and the urge to pen it down. Or not being able to sleep for the same reason. Or not wanting to, because of an unfinished expression.I am in advertising because of its dynamic character.Today you think you have got a hang of it, and tomorrow, there’s something absolutely new waiting to mock at your face. Every day you learn something new. Every day, you do something new. I don’t know of any profession on the face of this Earth that comes close to the madness, chaos, or excitement of advertising.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
NO. I have a degree in Engineering (Electronics and Communications).

Tell us about your recent work campaign?
I have just moved out of Grey. And right now, I’m just focusing on enjoying my break (reading, writing, waiting for award results) before I join anywhere.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I take a lot of strength from my mother. Besides being a surprisingly powerful woman, she’s also the most sorted, sensible and intelligent force around me. How she has an understanding of things that are so beyond her sphere of existence or how she breaks every mould of a typical Punjabi housewife by being a typical Punjabi housewife; in some strange way, its things like these that keep me grounded.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
I’ve let myself get influenced by a lot of things, still do. As far as personalities go, I think Viral Pandya has a lot to do with this restlessness that has evolved in me. During my early days, I had the opportunity of working very closely with him;in a matter of months, I saw him claim Cannes, The One Show and whatever it was out there. I think that did something to me, stir up a hunger somewhere, and made me proactive. As a writer, I am a great admirer of Sabu Paul’s work, and his attitude. I think he’s undoubtedly the most nonchalant, no nonsense ad man. And an extremely secure one at that.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Every day we are exposed to an incomprehensible amount of content. And it’s changing at equally incomprehensible speed. I like to be in the center of all this content. And I try to keep my eyes on everything. From a well-written status update to an award winning long copy, everything inspires me. But most importantly, I keep the reasonably good work that I have done in the past, around me;it motivates me to do better.

Tell us about your first job in Advertising.
Though I had worked before but I would consider my stint at Noah’s Ark Creative to be my first job in ADVERTISING. It was a small design house with Viral Pandya as a Creative Consultant. Not a conventional ad-place setup, it had a very comfortable, cozy vibe to it. Limited clients, limited resources, work would get done, and more often than not, there’ll be time to kill at hand. But the best part was, every ad magazine that you can imagine was within reach. In a span of almost a year, I went through all the editions of Luerzer’s Archive, and by the end of it, I was determined to get inside it. Two years later, I did (1/2013 edition).

What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now? At least 
here in India, the released work is most often too sad.
I think print advertising is recovering. Or so, I would like to believe. But I’ve seen some amazing stuff in the recent past, and from around here. There are agencies out there that dread the mediocre tag. They want to be known for their print. And they’re pretty damn good at it. Agencies like Taproot for instance; Bang In the Middle is another example. These guys have craft. I don’t know who handles the business for Roush (men’s shoes), but whoever it is, knows how to write.

Do you think brands whose advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
It’s the approach that is the key player in this argument. I have been a part of conversations where scams were organized,and insights were concocted with the intention to make it look otherwise. You’d be surprised to know how quickly brand becomes an invisible commodity in these discussions. Though they win awards, this seldom helps the brand in the market. On the contrary, there are times when you see creative completely smitten by the brand they create/work on. They want to nurture it, make it fantastic, they want everybody to love it the way they do. And with great honesty, they are able to communicate that. This product sells, and wins awards too (Coke, Volkswagen, Vodafone). Two different conversations, two different results.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
I believe the aspiring creative professionals are an aware lot. They read forums, follow Ogilvy and Bernbach, they know the inside stories and are well-connected too. They understand that advertising is not one of the highest paying professions, not even close. Hence, I’m going to assume that they want to be in it, for the love of it. That being said, this love requires investment, and lot of reassurance, more than they can imagine.
From the inside, it’s a business of validation. We are a competitive, impatient and an insecure bunch. From those who have it all to those who want to have it all,one way or the other, we all seek validation. So the moment you make a mistake there are chances that the world will know of it, and when you do something great, someone will take credit for it (not that frequently, but this happens). Every mistake would seem like a failure, and since it’s a business of ideas, you will fail a lot. These are the moments when that love will begin to fizzle. And this is when you’ll have make a choice—shake yourself of all this negative weight and move the effon or join the overpopulated league of cribbing sorry faces (the ‘advertising sucks’ brigade )orwalk out. But if you really want to be here, you would realize that gaining/regaining focus is almost as easy as losing it. With time, if you manage to find your ground and try to extract something useful out of everything (there always will be something), eventually you will improve (a lot), your ideas will see the light of the day, your work will get their attention, and you will have that delicious creative satisfaction. Without having to kiss anybody’s ass.

Your dream project?
For as long as I remember, I’ve seen myself telling me, “I wish I had done/written this” on several occasions. The ‘P& G Thank You Mom’ commercial was one such episode. It gave me Goosebumps, and anything that does that to you, is beyond exceptional. There’s an indigo ad, ‘reading inspires kids’,which had me in tears. I still remember watching it time and again, and getting overwhelmed every single time. My dream project is to create something that does ‘this’ to people.

Your upcoming campaigns, if you can talk about it 🙂
I’m currently creating a platform for readers/writers where user generated content will move between two parallel streams. Essentially, a unique story telling experience. I’m planning to use my break to set it up completely, and hopefully it’ll go live, soon enough.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
The girl that I’m attached to.Because I love her a lot. And I’m equally scared of her.

What’s on your iPod?
Beatles, Lana Del Rey, Adele, and everything Bollywood.

Mac or PC?






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Rahul Singh : Interview with a Designer/Illustrator

Rahul Singh Ydav has a Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Media and he is currently working as an Designer/Illustrator at HB Design, Mumbai. Besides this he has started his own venture OZO apparel which supports Hip Hop culture and Street art.

Why are you into Advertising?
I always wanted to satisfy my hunger for creativity but I didn’t know which path to follow. It became more concrete when I took admission to BMM and specialized in advertising.

Did you attend school for fine art or design or Communications?
No, whatever I have learnt till now and whatever have been learning all these years is because of a wondrous thing called INTERNET. I started learning stuff from sites namely ,, youtube and many others.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
When I started designing, few of my friends helped me a lot. They were masters in their own right, I really look up to them. Another artist whom I have admired for his individuality and spirit is Banksy.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Advertising?
There are many actually but the most influential personality in my career is my friend Sajid Wajid Shaikh.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is the most important part to keep you going in advertising and for my daily dose I prefer to surf on sites like, illustration served.comand

Tell us something about the freelance work environment. We know lots of creatives would love to go freelance…
There are some creatives who are big on independence and love to work on their own terms. Though the income maybe uncertain i think freedom is very essential to the creative process. The market for freelance creatives is also very good but its the uncertainty and instability which may be bad.

What do you think of the state of Print advertising right now. At least here in India, the released work is most often too sad?
I think india is doing really well in print media and its going to do much better in future.

Do you think brands who’s advertising wins awards, do well in the market?
No, not entirely. Awards serve a completely different purpose. Creating brand awareness and making the brand a success among consumers are the two most important goals of any advertiser. Award winning ads may not always strike a chord with the masses. It can either make advertisers work very hard or it could result in them straying from their goals if they focus too much on awards.

What advice do you have for aspiring creative professionals?
I advice them to start early and chalk out a plan that they wish to follow. creative professionals should constantly up their game and update their skills. The most important thing is to develop a style of their own because they have to stand out and put something of their own on the table.
If you can dream of what you want in your life then you can achieve it too.

What’s your dream project?
There are many concepts going on in my mind but one of the best concept I would love to work on is illustration of all the gods coming back on earth and how the world would react. Ill name the project “Return Of Gods”.

Where do you see yourself in 15 years?
I see myself having developed my own venture OZO into a big recognisable name that promotes Hip hop culture. It will have joined the ranks of major brands that identify itself with hip hop. I also see myself working as an artist having honed my skills to perfection, because art is something I will never quit.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My lovely girlfriend.

What’s on your iPod?
I don’t have one. but on my player i listen to breakbeats, nu metal and hip hop tracks.

Mac or PC?
I am actually ok with both of them but ill rather prefer Mac over PC.

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Li-Anne Dias : In conversation with an artist

Li-Anne Dias is an artist and illustrator. She grew up in Mumbai, and Graduated from Sir J.J School of Art
Classic stories and scenes from urban life are her favourite subjects. She likes experimenting with various media
and aims at achieving a blend of fine art and illustration in her work. View her website here.

Why are you an Illustrator?
My interest has always been in creating images and responding to stories through my work.
Besides, I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember but it’s not that it comes easy.
I have just begun to find a niche for myself as an illustrator.

Did you attend school for fine art or design?
Yes. I graduated from Sir J.J. School of Fine Art with a Degree in Painting.

You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
I still don’t believe that I have a definitive style but I definitely feel like I’m on my way to one.
I also think the ability to change your style from one to project to the next is essential.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
There have been many role models. I look up to Ganesh Pyne for his exemplary use of line and form, and international artists like Joan Miro, Max Ernst and Francis Berry.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in Illustrations?
There are many people who influenced me to take up Illustration as a career.
One of my first art instructors, Mr. Narendra Pavaskar, and my professors at Art College helped me most in discovering my ability to Illustrate.

What made you decide to become a freelance illustrator? When did you start freelancing? Do you illustrate for advertising?
You have the opportunity and the freedom to choose your work.
It is a luxury to be able to select the projects you work on.

Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or publishers?
Yes, there is an inclination towards the use of hand-drawn illustrations in advertising these days.
Some of the most inspiring, and award-winning campaigns of today involve the use of illustration in some way or the other.

I’m working on a few personal projects that I wish to publish soon.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit Illustrations?
No. But there have been difficult times when I decide to take a break and explore new media.
I have been experimenting a lot lately with traditional print-making techniques.

Have you considered turning your illustrations into toys?
Of course. I have always been drawn to the idea of executing my art in unconventional media.

Any other Indian Illustrators who you admire?
I find the work of Mario Miranda and Deelip Khomane very inspiring.

Do you have any favorite fellow illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Tasneem Amiruddin is a friend, and a wonderful illustrator. I think her style of illustration is both highly experimental and unique.

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?
Enjoy what you do, to the extent that it is a pleasure to go beyond the call of duty. Everyone gets rejection along the way, but you have to keep going.
Illustration is a great career prospect as long as you’re extremely passionate about it, but you need to have self-discipline to pull through.

Whats your dream project?
To write and illustrate my own graphic novel.

Mac or PC?
Both. They are only tools.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
My dad.

What’s on your iPod?
Young the Giant, Porcupine Tree and a few other artists.
















Ritam Banerjee : In conversation with a photographer

Based out of Mumbai, Ritam has never quite understood the need to create a niche. Shooting extensively across categories—travel, photojournalism, advertising, interiors, portraits, automobiles, fashion, food—he has always sought inspiration and challenge in variety. From training his lens at the blazing dome of the Taj Palace & Tower when Mumbai was under siege in 2008 to documenting the placid course of the middle and lower Ganges, Ritam has framed things as disparate as spas and slums, ketchup and cars.

Over the last decade, Ritam has worked with corporates and publications across continents, and has also been associated with the global agency, Getty Images.
Apart from stills, he shoots commercial AVs, and has recently won an International Best Cinematographer Award in London for his first feature film. Ritam has also been in the news for his theme-based calendars and his exhibitions.

Why are you a photographer?
Guess, I couldn’t think or dream of doing anything else. Life is all about what we see and the way we see them. So, perhaps, the innate desire to tell stories the way I see it led me to photography. Whether it’s documenting something or creating a piece of art, capturing a moment or depicting an idea, it’s really about telling a story and telling it well.

Do you remember any decisive moment when you felt ‘I want to be a photographer’?
My father, Robin Banerjee, was a serious hobbyist and still practices photography for the pure love of the medium. Seeing him and his work when I was growing up must have influenced my decision. So when I got the first opportunity to explore photography during my college days in Fergusson, Pune, I took it seriously and started my journey as a photojournalist with the Times of India, Pune edition. I haven’t looked back since.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
Like I said: my father. His passion for the art was contagious. Thanks to him, I was exposed to the works of legends like Richard Avedon, Herb Ritts, Steve Mccurry, Annie Leibovitz, Ansel Adams, Robert Capa, Patrick Demarchelier, Max Vadukul, Henri Cartier Bresson, Raghu Rai, Raghubir Singh, Gautam Rajadhyaksha, Prabuddha Dasgupta and several others. Even painters, musicians and filmmakers influenced my sensibilities.

Though I grew up in a small town– Jamshedpur — my upbringing made the canvas in front of me that much wider. From Michael Jackson to Tchaikovsky, Monet to Nandalal Bose, Tagore to Shakespeare, Satyajit Ray to Vittorio De Sica, my education in aesthetics and culture has luckily been quite diverse.

Who was the most influential personality in your career in photography?
As I just mentioned, there were several who influenced my ideas and opinions. Hence, naming one personality wouldn’t do justice.

How has photography changed over the course of the last couple of decades? Is execution/art direction more important than it used to be?
With time, everything evolves. So has photography and us as practitioners of the art. Sensibilities have changed and so have the tools and techniques. The ability to instantly view the results and even tweak the images at will in post-production effectively means: one’s only limitation is the periphery of one’s imagination.

And yes, eye for detail, subtlety in styling and approach, precision in execution and innovation and imagination in art direction has resulted in a sea of change in the manner in which we even perceive an image today.

Given a choice, no other constraints, film or digital?
Both have their own charm. It’s like saying Test Cricket or T20?

What do you think of the current state of Print Advertising photography in India? Is it at par with the work done worldwide?
Print advertising has evolved many folds in India. Not only in terms of ideation, even in terms of execution, we have achieved very high standards. Not only photography, but in many cases, even CGI has had a major role to play. Several jobs done here today are definitely at par with the work done worldwide.

Where do you get your inspiration?
From sounds of nature to people on the streets, everything influences my thoughts and ideas. I keep an open mind, as one never knows what might trigger that ‘Eureka’ moment. No matter where I am, be it in a coffee shop or in the middle of maddening traffic, I keep looking around. I often shoot such moments with my iPhone. Works of different artists also influence me. Whenever I get a chance, I try and collaborate with different artists to not just create but to learn and get inspired. This year too, I did two calendars, one with the dance maestro, Astad Deboo in Mexico and the other with the sculptor, Arzan Khambatta in Mumbai.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit photography?
I would be lying if I said no. There have been times, when the work at hand hasn’t challenged me creatively or technically. There have also been moments when the demands of the job have been unreasonable to the point of being silly. Sometimes things have seemed monotonous. Thankfully, such instances have been few and far between.
What’s your dream project?
Several. But if I had to choose one, it would involve travelling across the globe and collaborating with artists, designers and models from varied ethnicities to create a seamless confluence of different worlds within each frame.

Who would you want to spend a dinner with?
Since I stay away from my family and the demands of my job don’t allow me much quality time with them, I always lookout for the next opportunity to have dinner with them.

Whats on your iPod?
I like all kinds of music. From classical ragas to rock, from Bollywood’s latest number to Hungarian folk, I love it all. What I play, from Bob Dylan to Munni badman hui, depends on my mood.

Mac or PC?
Mac. Since I have been using it for quite a while now. I guess, I am too used to it.

Ritam can be contacted via his website here.




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