The first time I came across Sandhya’s work was on Facebook through my good friend and one of Cartoons Underground’s pioneers as well as director whom we screened in 2013, Arjun Chatterjee, who now works at Big 3 Productions as a Director.
Sandhya Prabhat is an Indian artist from Chennai, who graduated from NYU Tisch Asia with an MFA in digital art and animation. You may see more of her works here: http://www.sandhyaprabhat.com/ and on her instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sandhyaprabhat/
I was drawn to her whimsical and colourful characters that each told a story. She uses textures and strong vibrant colours to bring to life characters from fantastical stories like Alice in Wonderland to the everyday Indian ladies in traditional sarees. As much as she thinks she’s a “boring” dud, I have to disagree!
Could you tell us about yourself?
I live in Chennai, India. This is home and I independently work out of here. I speak Tamil. I did my BA degree in Literature from Stella Maris College in Chennai and MFA degree in Animation and Digital Arts from NYU Tisch Asia, Singapore. I like reading and drawing. I live in a cave, from where I work. I love my cave. I’m mostly boring and I like being so. It’s easy on the mind.
You have a distinct style about your drawing which I find very fun and whimsical, could you tell us how you developed the style?
Do I? I’ve always dreamt that someone would say to me that I have a distinct style, and you call it such nice things too! Thank you, I’m thrilled!
Fortunately, since I work independently, I get to dabble in drawing for print, video and the web, for clients with various requirements and for diverse target audiences. When I first started out, I was merely trying to draw or imitate styles that would fit that project’s brief. This method worked to the extent that it helped me explore while getting paid, and over time discover what comes naturally to me. I’m not consciously trying to build a style. I’m just having a blast experimenting. But hey, if I have one, I’m really excited to know!
When I’m not drawing for work, I’m still drawing my own stuff, or stalking an artist or filmmaker and lapping up their work. Mostly, it’s inspiring and I get really productive. But sometimes when I see art that blows me away and I just want to dig a hole and sit inside it, and never ever draw again. Either way, I enjoy this. I have the best job in the world.
Can you name three artists that inspire you and what you like about their work?
This is such a difficult question. About 3000 names come to mind simultaneously.
I love Lewis Carroll. I re-read Alice in Wonderland once every few months (okay, weeks). It’s the best book in the whole universe and I’d recommend it highly. I believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast as well everyday. On lucky days, I get to draw some of them.
I adore Marjane Satrapi. I admire breathtakingly beautiful compositions. Her storytelling is something else: It’s magical how her narratives are so tragic, so hilarious and so ironic, all at the same time. Although her diverse characters are set in specific cultural, political and temporal settings that are not so familiar to me, they never fail to remind me of people from my own life.
Oliver Jeffers. I have all his books. I know they’re for children but hey, who says I can’t enjoy them! The Heart and and the Bottle is so moving.
Aaaand…I’ll need a few pages and a few weeks to list out all the animators and studios I look up to. I’m way too nervous to pick.
What inspired you to explore animation as a professional career?
I’ve always been drawing. Through school and college I’d experiment with illustration and painting and animation, but I had no idea these would help me make a living one day. My family helped me figure it out eventually, and I went on to study animation. Time and circumstance have been most favourable. I’ve been lucky to have discovered what I love to do, very early.
If you could travel back in time and tell your younger self something, what would it be?
And here I was, thinking that I’m still young. You broke my bubble.
I’m not sure I have anything grand to say to my younger self. I’d probably say something really awkward and embarrassing that would make us both red.
What are you currently working on?
Currently working on kicking my own butt to make my own film, in addition to projects I have going. I get so excited by work that I forget to pursue my own ideas. Two children’s picture book projects and an animated narrative video are now in the making. I’m also drawing one graphic story for Studio Kokaachi’s very cool Mixtape 3 graphic anthology.
What do you like about Cartoons Underground?
I think it was unfortunate that I left Singapore just before Cartoons Underground was curated. Singapore has had a lot of art and film-related events and communities, but was indeed missing this sort of scene that’s animation-specifc, and who better than you and Patrick (whose student I was at Tisch and whose epic animation wisdom I treasure) to start something amazing like this! I’ve stalked your updates, blog posts and events unabashedly on the web and can’t wait to attend one of the future chapters of the festival!