Thoroughly Indian bred

What do you do with raw artistic talent and a savvy business drive with design inclinations? Put them together and spin out a calendar -- that is what the three guys of Whoa Mama Design (WMD) have done, twice in fact. Anek Ahuja, Shaun D'Sa and Nishant John, the core team behind design company WMD, has come up with Indian Bred, a calendar featuring the works of Indian artists.

The calendar was started to promote Indian artists and Indian designs and so, for their maiden effort in 2009 they pooled in the talents of 12 artists from across India to contribute a page each. “We sent mails to a bunch of friends and got them excited about the concept,” explained Anek, and the artists were given a free reign to come up with their design. With the limited exposure that artists get in India, this was a good opportunity for them to showcase their work and get recognition.

The Mumbai-based graphic designer and illustrator Mira Malhotra said, “There are very few businesses and festivals in India, so artists' and designers' generally get limited exposure. Getting recognition for their work is another plus point; when working as a graphic designer in a design studio or company, you lose your individuality.”

Promoting Indian art

The calendar is also a timely undertaking, no pun intended, in its promotion of Indian art; according to ad-man Melvin Jacob, ancient and art-heavy India has forgotten some of its artistic sensibilities over the years. The theme for the first calendar was India and the artists got to present their own vision of their motherland. For Melvin inspiration for such a theme is looking out the window or taking a walk. “We didn't want the conventional picture,” he said drawing attention to their main idea ‘contradiction'. “Like the ancient beliefs that make India tick, the country always has various forces working against each other to fuel a very unique country,” he said about their October 2009 contribution.

Mira on the other hand, wanted to reflect the diversity of the languages here in India. “Inspiration came from the multitude of languages we have here, with dialects and sub-dialects,” she said. “I doodled a drawing which was later converted digitally, and that became the final result, a woman speaking in many tongues/dialects,” she explained about her February 2009 design.

Artistic freedom

Coordinating 12 different artists can be quite a big headache though, Anek says, “The biggest challenge was getting them to submit their designs on time.” For the first year, the WMD guys put out the theme, screened the artists' work and coordinated the print work and other processes.

Their second project was more of a portrayal of Chennai and also of the company and its abilities; after sifting through local artists, they finally selected one who did basic pencil sketches of local sights. The guys then took it from there, filling all the art, colour manipulation, additional graphics and copywriting.

Their end product is not for sale though, but mostly distributed by the members to their social networks. “I also left them in bars for circulation, handed them out for free, to some people on Facebook, all just to bring the hype of the calendar art,” elaborated Anek.

Anbu, a bank consultant, was one who got both calendars through Facebook. “I liked the idea, that artists are given the space to do what they want,” “I also liked that they mixed illustrations with real photos. It's very quirky,” he said.

Not only have they won fans, the boys' hard work also culminated in getting the silver Davey award for their 2009 calendar. And their ambition shows no signs of abating; next up, is an online community for more Indian artists to showcase their work. There will be an online voting system too, so more people can be involved in selecting the finest works for the 2011 calendar.

For its increasing spotlight on Indian artists and art by a home-grown company, it sounds like the Indian Bred calendar is growing to live up to its name and be Indian-bred through and through.

Adeline has recently graduated from the Singapore Management University with a B.Sc. (Economics) degree.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2021 6:41:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/nxg/Thoroughly-Indian-bred/article15956192.ece

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