“Sri Priyatham is an artist who’s unique style finds the perfect blend between realism and exaggeration. In an exclusive interview, we talked to Sri about his experience of working with Netflix, his newly launched podcast and the projects he is working on in the immediate future. “ - Editor
Your first encounter with art and caricature? How did you take it up and what led you to define your own style of caricature?
Well, It was very much random. There was a Caricature class in My art school and we were going through the basics of constructing a head and exaggerating the features while we’re still talking about Likeness. The idea of it amused me a lot. It was tough. Challenging enough to push my, then, creative limits. I kept my hand at it for the next few weeks as I found it fun. I got hooked without even noticing. And as I kept digging the renditions of many international artists who I look up to, it made me work more hard, and eventually I developed my own style on those same ‘realism’ lines.
Could you tell us more about your podcast ‘What the Art?’ and the idea behind it?
It has been a standalone idea and apparently My friend’s (Aditya) too to form a passive community for artists in Hyderabad since it’s our home city and also considering the fact that the art scenario is really slow and bad here. Podcast was a doable thing and Upon discussing, we had 2 other collaborators from Chennai (Kesh and Gokul from MyCopie) who were interested in the idea. We kicked it off with episode 1 right after that!
What is your design process? Is there a methodology that your follow with every artwork? What keeps you inspired?
There is definitely a template but the work process is free styled in that frame. I begin with a pre-visualized sketch in my head and I try not to veer off from the initial idea I had. Practicing basics helps a lot here. There are countless people who inspire me on a daily basis. From favorite artists to musicians to film makers. But, it’s all about what we do with such overwhelming inspiration which leaves us restless.
What are the issues that caricature art faces as a profession in India? What measures do you think can be taken to improve this scenario?
This particular art-form emphasizes more on features which grab more attention of the viewers which makes it more ‘Fun’. But, the fun part of it has always been a problem with people in India, though I won’t generalize. People take a lot of offense after looking at their caricatures and they even go about asking ‘can you change my features more attractive’? which means, we don’t even accept our own selves in reality, which is really disappointing to realize. For Caricature to become more acceptable in this place, we need more people to be light hearted, give space for fun and look at the other side of ourselves to accept what’s in reality, in the first place. Because, It oozes out more character than an actual photograph does.
You are also active in conducting workshops about art and caricature. Being as complex as it is, how are your workshops structured to equip participants with all the means necessary to pursue caricature?
So, in order to learn any art-form, we need to know how to draw first, don’t we? My workshops for beginners mostly focus on that part were we get to the ground basics first. how to make one self more comfortable to draw freehand, the basics of how a human face works, breaking the complex features into simple forms and shapes and takes off to the actual subject where we implement those basics to achieve the subject of the day. It’s all about basics! It’s very simple, like, If you want to become a marathon runner, you just don’t run away without any basics. You gotta know how to walk first and then take it from there.
How to establish yourself as a freelance artist? How can caricature artists get noticed?
It all depends on the quality of work we offer and lots of observation towards ever growing market standards. The key to be competitive is to let yourself go undercover and walk about the prices going in the current market and the affordability of people. I think it comes with experience for any freelancer unless one is a management graduate. And I don’t only confine myself to caricature when I do commercial project, though i do them often. You maintain a standard by offering good quality to the client. being good to them, listening to their requests, considering their requests and not being too offensive towards what they’d need unless they take you for granted.
How was your experience in working with Netflix?
It was buttery smooth! Probably one of the best clients I had so far. And I think it is because of the respect and awareness they have towards artists and their processes. They keep working with tens of artists for their projects day in and day out. You’d expect no less than that. It again comes from the awareness, which is way more important than what we think. Understanding art makes our job much easier as we’d have no inhibitions during projects.
What would your advice be for emerging artists? Especially artists who want to pursue caricature formally as a profession?
I’ve been coming across many aspiring artists pursuing Caricature and I think it’s a positive sign. I wanted to see this happening years ago, but it’s better than never. I don’t know if my advice or rather a suggestion would count, but, I’d say, focus more on the aesthetics of what you’re offering. The standard of always matters and you can get it easily when you approach any art-form technically. More focus on basics, I can’t stress that enough!
Any new projects that you are currently working on? What can we expect from you in the near future?
I wrapped up few corporate deadlines and independent commissions recently. I can see myself slowly diving into Teaching. Been working on a course for beginners and also an Online / conventional course is something you could expect from me sometime, very soon. Apart from that, Workshops, yes, you can expect a lot of them, focusing more seriously on Art, specially for beginners.
A: Sri Priyatham