Lavanya Naidu : Animation and Illustration

“Hello! I love to animate, illustrate, tell stories, I also love dogs and food. You might occasionally find me playing my ukulele or trying very hard to pick up a new language.”

Why are you an Animator/Illustrator?
I have loved to draw since I was 3 or 4 years old, it’s always been something that has helped me express myself. My love for animation started with watching cartoons on Sundays with my family when I was a child. It was my closest association to magic after storybooks. However when the time came to go to college, I was preparing to be a doctor. It was on my parents’ suggestion and convincing that I decided to sit for the entrance test for The National Institute of Design (NID). I hadn’t prepared for it at all, and walked straight into the exam hall with not a clue of what to expect. It is, and possibly will remain the most excited I have ever been after taking a test. The rest is history!
Today, I am animator and illustrator, because of the same reasons, I love to tell stories and I love to draw. Something about bringing these two things together, and breathing life into it with animation, is now my closest association to magic.

Did you attend school for fine art or films?
I attended The National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and am a graduate of Animation Film Design.

You have a distinct style of illustration. How long did it take you to develop your style?
For the most part, I don’t think I consciously wanted to develop a style. When I look back at my work from 5 years ago, I think it has evolved and today it looks different, tomorrow it might go through another journey and look even more different. I’m open to that and always up for trying something new, and there’s endless room to grow.

Were there any particular role models for you when you grew up?
I think it started with authors, and falling in love with the world they created in their books. So Enid Blyton was my first. And then my Grandmother who seemed to have a bag of infinite stories when we visited her as kids. I’ve always wanted one of those bags. And lastly, my Mother, for always letting me choose my own path, and giving me all the freedom I got growing up.

Who was the most influential personality on your career in animation/films?
My mentor in college, Mr. Sekhar Mukherjee. He has not only taught me much of what I know, but also shown me that there is no one way to tell a story, to not fall prey to tunnel vision, to observe, keep drawing and in the end, try to keep some method to all of the madness. He also exposed me to a world of cinema I might have never seen otherwise. Although I am still learning, I carry his words with me at all times.

What made you decide to start freelancing?
I have been freelancing since a little before graduating in ’11. Until recently, I was working with a company as Lead Animator, but continued to take on interesting work in my spare time. My attraction to freelancing has always been variety. You get to work on different things, with different teams and individuals and there’s the added benefit of working from anywhere. Of course, to be good at it, you have to have some serious discipline, but if you love what you do, on most days, that should not be a problem.

Are many advertising agencies getting illustrations/animations made these days? Do you work more with agencies or production companies?
I do see a lot of animation coming out from ad agencies these days, and illustration is definitely catching up for both ad agencies and publishing. With Illustration, I have worked mostly with publishing houses and retail companies. With Animation, it’s been a mixed bag; production houses, studios and agencies.

Was there any time when you wanted to quit animation?
I don’t think I’ve ever been more sure of anything in my life. Sure I have bad days, but  fortunately, the thought’s never crossed my mind. I have much to be grateful for.

Have you considered turning your animations into web series of your own?
Oh absolutely! I keep an inventory of random thoughts I might want to make into an episodic series, not necessarily web based, but I wouldn’t mind if I can invest the time!

Any other Indian Illustrators/Animators who you admire?
There are so many brilliant and talented Indian Illustrators and Animators in our field currently!
Vaibhav Kumaresh, Rajiv Eipe, Archana Sreenivasan, Priya Kuriyan, Prabha Mallya to name a few of my favorites.

Do you have any favorite animators/illustrators or resources relating to your fields?
Hayao Miyazaki, Alex Hirsch – the creator of Gravity Falls is one of my favourites, also recently found some beautiful work on Vimeo, Oma by Karolein Raeymaekers, The Seven Red Hoods by LeoVerrier etc. Vimeo as well Behance are two great places to connect with talented artists and enjoy animation and illustration.

2D or 3D? What do you prefer?
2D all the way! Even though I love the work being produced these days in 3D as well as 2D integration in 3D, I think 2D poses challenges to me, that I personally love taking on.

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 animation as a career option? Is it paying well enough?
I think discovering what you love to do, is the bigger journey. If you’ve figured this out and you’re  taking up animation because you love it, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pursue it as a career option. There is always room to grow and get better at what you do. Animation today is certainly more in demand than it was even 5 years ago. With technology advancing, there are so many more avenues to showcase animation. Good work, or the expectation of good work, should pay you well enough.

What’s your dream project?
My dream project would be working on my own animated series, or on a feature length animated film with an amazing team. And of course, to be able to have a bag of infinite stories to tell like my grandmother!

Your favourite films? Animated or otherwise?
I love film, and I’m up for anything, so naturally picking a favorite is impossible. Some of the films/series that have stayed with me in the recent past are, Spirited Away, Le Chat du Rabbin (The Rabbi’s Cat), Gravity Falls, Le Jour des Corneilles (The Day of the Crows), Les Grandes Grandes Vacances (The Long Long Holiday), Song of the Sea, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (the first hand-drawn animated feature film), Ernest and Celestine, Small Time Crooks, The Odd Couple and The Manhattan Murder mystery to name a few.

Mac or PC?

Who would you like to take out for dinner?
Can I pick two please? Alex Hirsch and Toothless.

What’s on your iPod?
Haha I can’t focus with music while I’m working, I start imagining myself in the music videos. But if I do listen, it’s usually anything from Putumayo World Music.

What’s your Twitter Handle?
I’ve only just joined instagram, so I’m afraid I’m not on twitter yet. But My insta handle is @lavanyanaidu
And I’m on Behance  and Vimeo and I blog here.




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