Art

Goa artist featured in Best American Comics 2019

Artist Nishant Saldanha at an exhibition

Artist Nishant Saldanha at an exhibition   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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Goa-based artist Nishant Saldanha’s surrealist, near-hypnotic work and characters like Mr Good Guy earned him a spot in the much-awaited annual publication

His eyes are psychedelic vortexes: the quintessential crazy eyes. His arms, legs and even tongue tend to twist and loop themselves akimbo, depending on his mood. Do not be fooled by his name: he is essentially a villain, and has been created by Goa-based artist Nishant Saldanha for the sole purpose of toying with ideas of good and evil.

Mr Good Guy is only one of the characters created by 27-year-old Nishant. There are others, more surreal — like the moon-shaped birds that pluck fruits off trees with their long tongues, and the clouds that sit on chairs atop massive crows, sipping tea as they travel through the air. Vibrant colours, intriguing shapes and squiggly fonts aside, there is something near-hypnotic about Nishant’s work, something left deliberately unexplained and open (and welcome) to interpretation. It is that, perhaps, that earned the US-trained artist a spot in the much-awaited annual Best American Comics’ 2019 edition.

What increases the honour two-fold for Nishant are the facts that this year’s edition was compiled by This One Summer illustrator Jillian Tamaki, and that she asked him to design the end pages of the book in addition to featuring his work inside it. “I have been admiring her work for years,” he gushes over a phone call from Goa, “So many of the people featured this year are established artists and authors... It is an honour to be among them.”

Hot and cold The comic Snow Day For Mr Good Guy , published in Best American Comics 2019

Hot and cold The comic Snow Day For Mr Good Guy , published in Best American Comics 2019   | Photo Credit: Nishant Saldanha

The content of Nishant’s work is not the only unusual thing about it; his style is, too — a mix of hand-etched and digital. “If I were in the professional graphic art industry, I would be expected to make my art digitally. But since I am on my own, I have the luxury of drawing them out by hand on translucent graphics paper, using a fountain pen dipped in ink. It’s almost like a quill,” he says. He then scans and uploads these drawings, and uses Photoshop to add colours. “That is where I can really get the shades I want,” he explains.

After that, his work belongs to those who see it. So much so, that for a few years, Nishant used to avoid signing his name on his work, feeling it would distance the work from those who buy or see it. “That way, it invites you to read and make sense of it as you like,” he states. “Since most of my comics are single-panel comics, they work well as prints and post card-sized prints. Which people can buy, and it allows them to pick their favourite ones. I also compile them into simple zines for people to buy a whole set if they like — without title or author’s name.”

There are also times when he uploads his work without naming the characters or titling the piece. For instance, a work that shows Mr Good Guy sitting in a room, surrounded by yellow, crescent-shaped creatures whom Nishant calls the “moon birds”. “I called one Moon Infestation, but because it didn’t have a title, the person who wanted to buy it called it ‘the one with the screaming bananas’!”

“But I think it is the funnest part for me, because people and friends have to find their own words to describe the comic... and that ends up adding more to the work,” he concludes.

To explore or buy Nishant’s work, visit his Instagram page instagram.com/nishantsaldanha.

The front endpaper of Best American Comics 2019, designed by Goa-based Nishant Saldanha

The front endpaper of Best American Comics 2019, designed by Goa-based Nishant Saldanha   | Photo Credit: Nishant Saldanha

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 10:24:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/art/goa-artist-featured-in-best-american-comics-2019/article29786665.ece

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