Hyderabad artist links up with Netflix for ‘Stranger Things’ fan art movement

Sri Priyatham’s undying appreciation for film and television and his skill with a stylus rope him into Netflix’s Global Artist Outreach Program for ‘Stranger Things’ season 3

May 28, 2019 12:57 pm | Updated 12:57 pm IST

Sri Priyatham’s work of David Harbour as Chief Hopper in Season Two Episode Five of ‘Stranger Things’

Sri Priyatham’s work of David Harbour as Chief Hopper in Season Two Episode Five of ‘Stranger Things’

Remember that scene in Stranger Things, season two chapter five ‘Dig Dug’, when Chief Jim Hopper (David Harbor) gets tangled up in the insidious vines in the Hawkins tunnel system? Fans of the show nervously fidgeted, not knowing whether the beloved police-officer would survive as he gripped a lighter to reveal the freakishly strong alien tentacles winding their way around his limbs. Well, city-based artist Sri Priyatham collaborated with Netflix to recreate this very scene for their Global Artist Outreach Program.

“I was doing my regular routine of creating art and posting it, tagging the different networks and actors and so on — because, you know, that’s fan-art now… Then late one night, I saw an email from Netflix and assumed it was one of those ‘we’ve added a new film or show’ emails… thank goodness I didn’t delete. I was elated that they wanted to collaborate. That level of outreach is amazing; and, at the time, I thought even if I didn’t crack the project, at least the word has spread. But the project panned out well.” Finally, on May 5, the eye-catching artwork was shared on Stranger Things ’ Twitter account, accumulating 1,158 retweets and 11,266 likes.

Hyderabad artist Sri Priyatham

Hyderabad artist Sri Priyatham

Priyatham commends the power of social media, explaining, “When you see distance between really big clients and artists reduce, you realise it’s not as tough as it may seem. Prior to this, I could never think of Netflix approaching me for anything.” The project required a lot of back and forth which pleased Priyatham. “They knew what they wanted and were very professional.” One will rarely spot Priyatham around the city without his tools of the trade: an iPad Pro and an Apple Pencil stylus with intuitive digital illustration Procreate. He also has a Wacom Syntec tablet, while favouring Adobe Photoshop as his go-to software. But the fine arts traditionalist in him still loves the medium of pencil and paper.

From the first episode of the sci-fi show set in the 80s, the world was immediately enraptured by the wilful kids (Will Byers, Nancy Wheeler, Steve Harrington, Eleven, Max Mayfield, Dustin Henderson, Lucas Sinclair and Billy Hargove) who unflinchingly face all sorts of monstrosities. But in season two of Stranger Things saw Chief Hopper, troubled past and all, become more of a fighting hero, protecting the kids and the rest of Hawkins — and fans just loved that. After all, prior to the town being infested with otherworldly creatures, he didn’t have much ‘crime’ to fight.

Come July 4, Stranger Things season 3 will be our raison d’être , with season 2 having tunnelled some interesting questions into our minds. What will be the fate of Eleven, the girl with mysterious abilities now that she’s closed the gate to the spore-ridden otherworld? Will Billy, the suave yet ruthless teenager, wreak more havoc on the sleepy town of Hawkins, Indiana?

Beyond colour

Priyatham who did a degree in Fine Arts from Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University says that he’s been drawing for as long as he can remember. He then turned his artistry into a business as a freelancer working with brands and companies — including Wizcraft International and Microsoft-Redmond —who required an artsy hand.

“I find black and white more intriguing than colour, especially when it comes to performing arts so most of my works are in black and white.” The works aren’t just of similar chrome family but they’re incredibly detailed too, with each mark of the stylus totally intentional. “I’m keen on capturing those more intriguing details which the normal observer would miss or even ignore.”

Sri Priyatham’s work of James McAvoy as Hedwig in ‘Glass’ and ‘Split’

Sri Priyatham’s work of James McAvoy as Hedwig in ‘Glass’ and ‘Split’

The 27-year-old is also inspired by non-mainstream television-based popular culture, as well as all-time favourites such as Game Of Thrones , Outlander and House MD . Film also has a pull with him; he recently unveiled some works he did for Split and Glass in which James McAvoy’s character has dissociative identity disorder thus playing a plethora of characters... but only one truly fascinated Priyatham: Hedwig, a nine-year-old boy with several compulsive behaviours.

“McAvoy was insanely good as these personalities. I took a screenshot of the scene in which Hedwig looks a little shocked and added some of my own elements such as the broken glass which conveys that multi-personality aspect and a lot of pain.” As he revels in his success and also anticipates the third season of Stranger Things , for now Priyatham is going to work on being more forward with his marketing as well as engaging with more films and television shows.

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