A sneak peek into the studio of Mumbai-based visual artist and illustrator, Sameer Kulavoor
He’s done a whole bunch of interesting graphic and illustration design over the years but our favourite remains Oh Flip! - a series of flipbooks of hand-drawn animated action loops inspired by the imagery of the streets of Mumbai. He is also known for his music related art and design projects having directed and designed animated music videos for ‘Disconnected’ and ‘Lovedrug Climbdown’ (from Pentagrams album and Bloodywood- 2011), album art for Zero and Something Relevant, cover Art for Rolling Stone, design for NH7 Weekender festival (2011, 2012, 2013) and a number of motion graphic pieces for MTV India among others. Here, Sameer throws open the doors to his quirky Mumbai studio that he shares with his sister, Zeenat.
When did you launch Bombay Duck Designs?
Officially, in 2008.
What was your inspiration to do so?
I was working on freelance projects since early 2000s. I wanted to start doing my personal art projects and wanted to self-publish. So I slowly started building a tiny team of like-minded people and started creating work under the umbrella of Bombay Duck Designs. Having a studio also makes you want to take work seriously!
What prompted the name Bombay Duck Designs?
Bombay Duck is a fish that is only available in the Arabian Sea around Bombay (Mumbai) and I like sea-food.
When did you move into this current space and what drew you to it?
We moved in mid 2015. Among other things, the wooden pillar in the centre and the arch shaped windows had an old world charm to it, and I was also quite keen to work in the Mazgaon area.
How did you zero in on Apt Works to do the interiors of the studio?
Rahul Malandkar from Apt Works and I share a common love for simplicity and clean lines. Rahul had some great ideas for optimum use of the space available, which I liked. Artist workspaces can get really messy over time so it’s important to start with bare minimum (furniture and objects).
What is your favourite part of the studio?
It has to be the lightbox/drawing area!
Take us through a typical day at work.
Trying to maintain a balance between actual work, email correspondence and a bit of social media. So I try to finish all the important emails before I get to the drawing board. It takes time to get into the 'state of mind' to create. But when I work, I am quick.
Are you a morning/ night person?
I used to be a night person. Now I am well balanced I think.
Would you rather draw by hand or on the computer?
Are you a black and white or a colour-person?
Black and white (with an odd streak of colour).
5 things we will always find at your desk?
A solid marker, a mechanical pencil, a sketchbook/pad, some magazines, and my Mac.
The last thing you bought for your studio?
The last thing was Zeenat’s find at a flea market - a wonderful old chair and a bench from the 60s with woven cane. It was in a bad condition when she found it but we took Rahul’s help to restore its lost glory.
What time of the day are you most productive?
Late evening mostly between 4pm and 8pm.
Where does inspiration strike you most?
At odd places but mostly when I am travelling.
An artist you look up to…
That’s a really tough one. There’s a lot of great work out there but I would say that Picasso doesn't cease to surprise me. I have seen his work in museums in Barcelona, Amsterdam, London, New York and I am always awestruck by the sheer variety of work that this man could produce in a lifetime - it is unbelievable.