Vimal Chandran brings in a Contemporary and Quirky twist through his Illustrations and Stories
I was sitting in my room after an exceptionally long day and I was casually scrolling through my Instagram feed when I first came across…
I was sitting in my room after an exceptionally long day and I was casually scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came across Vimal Chandran Page. My sister Kritika Chaddha, who herself is an artist , also showed me few of his artworks from his series of doodles Unposted Lettters , when the topic of re-decorating her home came up. Later in the day, I had put on my journalist hat and started doing some secondary research . I had went through his work and portfolio. I was thoroughly impressed by his artwork and, a recent habit of mine, wondering what his story would be.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Vimal Chandran is a visual artist who works with illustration, photography and installation.
He grew up in God’s Own Country Kerala and started painting at an innocent and young age of four . He is a self taught artist with an impeccable flair for creativity.
He has a Undergraduate Engineering Degree in Computer Science and Information Technology from University of Calicut , Kerala and came to Bangalore to work as a Senior Software engineer with Phillips Medical System and Honeywell . He later quit his job and started doing art full time.
‘For me, the basic idea of art is storytelling’ — Vimal Chandran
He is the Founder/Director of the Creative Company known as “Unposted Letters ’’, which showcases his work on unique lifestyle products and an Advertising Production House known as Ordinary Secret Films which is into visual storytelling.
Unposted Letters | Limited Edition Gifts | Collectibles | Art Items
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Vimal Chandran’s work has drawn thousands of fans on social media, with his art, illustrations and photography receiving high praise. With this ace photographer and artist making his way into film making.
Excerpts from the interview :-
Q1) Hi Vimal, thank you for doing this interview with me. I am really thrilled to have you here for this collaboration. Tell us about your journey from being an IT Engineer to a full time Illustrator, Photographer and a Film-maker. Was there a ‘eureka’ moment in your life when you decided you wanted to point your career in that direction?
Vimal : Actually there is no single ‘eureka moment’ as such, my decision to move out of my Engineering to visual artist was kind of a planned decision . After working quiet sometimes in a corporate environment I felt ‘bland’ about the entire routine.I have been doing painting from my childhood days even during my schooling and college days. I never had a plan to take Art as a full time career because I was so young and didn’t care much about all these rather I followed the world blindly. But a corporate job was an eye opener for me as I felt the entire idea of a corporate career was kind of pointless to me. I started painting more at that time just to get out of the monotonous life and started uploading my works online. Rather than uploading it on the internet I didn’t think much about it seriously at that time as I was enjoying the process. At that time I bought a camera and started travelling in India and capturing people and places. I was experimenting with different art forms and I felt more ‘alive’ practicing it. Eventually that day came to quit my regular job but by that time I was well equipped and had some designing projects in my hand and most importantly I was 100 percent confident about my new path.
Q2) You seem to have the best of both worlds. Skill sets of both Photography and Illustration. Did you become a photographer first or an illustrator first? What is your history with art and creativity? How did you nurture yourself to these fields? Can you tell our readers here about the significant role models in your early life when you were just starting out? How have they influenced your journey so far as an artist?
Vimal : My achan[Dad] has a keen interest in art and music even though he was a mathematics teacher. He bought me paint and other stuff when I was a kid and encouraged me to paint. Even Amma[Mom] is also very much supportive about my interest in art and she was really proud about it. I had that privilege of being born in a middle class Indian family who can understand art and they are my biggest influence.
Photography I found only after getting a job[Well that was the time I could buy a DSLR on my own:)]. I wanted to try it and once I learnt the basic techniques it was easy for me as I applied the same kind of aesthetics of painting/drawing in photography. I consider photography as another tool for telling stories. History of art and creativity — During my school and college days my friends and teachers were extremely supportive about my interest in Art .It was in my engineering college days I started learning design tools like photoshop and indesign[in fact the older version ‘Adobe Pagemaker’] myself just to design collaterals for college events and college magazines.
We didn’t have enough funds to get a full time designer to work for us and it was early 2000s there were not many people who were into design and it was really expensive. Looking back to that time right now, I find it was that design experience helped me a lot throughout my later life even though I did Engineering in IT.
Q3) What message you wanted to communicate to people or society through your films, photographs and illustrations?
Vimal : I think I don’t want to give any specific message to society as I am as clueless as everyone else. I also think that the purpose of art is not to give ‘any message’ to society, but to show a new perspective to society.That perspective largely depends on the artist’s vision about life and the experience he/she has. It’s like he is opening a new window for you to look at yourself or to society as a whole , whether deriving a message after looking through it totally depends on the person who is looking at it. Art is just a trigger point, Artist can tell to the viewer that “ look at this bridge “ but the viewer has to walk through the bridge himself and derive the meaning. Other times I think Art can be a medium to make life bearable, there is nothing to think about it but it takes you to a different world looking at it, it has no special message or meaning. It’s like you are watching the rain. There is no meaning or message in the rain but you can enjoy the rain for that lightness and beauty. So through my art I guess I am trying to mark my existence on this planet. Sometimes it opens some perspective to the viewer to look at, other times it just invites people to look at it and enjoy the story even though knowing all the absurdness of life .
Q4) Tell our readers here about Unposted Letters. What motivated you to form this creative venture? I had checked out a few artworks, they really are something. The illustrations are indeed thought — provoking .It clearly reflects your creativity and impeccable flair.
Vimal : Well I started drawing ‘Unposted Letters’ almost 8 to 9 years back. My idea was to tell a love story in a poetic way with intelligent execution. It became widely popular on social media and in my exhibitions . The drawings are extremely simple, almost like stick figures and there are only 4 characters- boy with camera, girl, umbrella and a bird.I later thought of making some lifestyle products following the same simplicity as I assume people may like to carry a simple story with them. In the illustrations, I never want to try too hard on the execution level but to find out a simple creative idea and connect it with the right emotions that I want to express. I use telling the story in the illustrator’s perspective as a narrative tactic so that I can express it more profoundly . The umbrella in the story is not just an object but works as a metaphor of love/hope and I use it just as another character all the time.
Q5) What’s Unposted Letters Design Philosophy?
Vimal : Simple, minimal and impactful. Something that everyone can connect with. I like things with more human touch to it. Our limited editions are totally hand made by local artisans and from design to execution everything is Local.
Q6) What kind of projects have you worked on recently? What was the most challenging? The most rewarding?
Vimal : Currently I am working with a project on capturing the monsoon moods of Kerala , near my home. It is entirely shot on mobile camera and we are planning to make a music video showing the stories of Kerala monsoon. This is a challenging project as we are testing the limits of mobile cinematography combined with storytelling .At the same time it’s extremely rewarding as it’s my home, and I got a chance to show the geography and its unique stories in the backdrop of monsoon. I am also working on my first book of ‘Unposted letters’ series , this would be the collection of my illustrations from the last 8 years.
Q7) Some of the illustrations I have observed you had made, they depict real-life musings. How did you feel when they were first published by a well-known newspaper, notably the Times of India, and presented to a large audience?
Vimal : It was fun to make the masthead designs for special occasions for a newspaper and it feels good to be the part of an older publication with a wider audience.
Q8) How do you see the future of illustration in the digital era? Are you optimistic?
Vimal : Extremely optimistic. Young people with different ideas got a real platform after the commencement of the digital era.
We got so many tools to experiment with and people started considering illustrations as stand alone art itself. I am looking forward to the advancement of Artificial Intelligence in pop art. Everything pointing towards a brighter future.
Q9) An issue that I think is very challenging in illustration is around diversity. As an illustrator you help shape the way people see the world, and I often think about how more diversity can be included in artworks. More fundamentally, how can we support a broader range of people to become illustrators? To encourage more voices? And how can institutions, companies and clients support diversity? How do you see your role in this area?
Vimal : You are absolutely right about it. ‘Representation matters’ but unfortunately we are so much used to the other way. Consciously we need to include diversity to make sure that inclusiveness is our strength. I have to improve a lot on this area but some of the designs I try include a wider spectrum of people very consciously, just to make sure that ‘We’ represent ‘Everyone’ but still i have a long way to go on this aspect.
Q10) Alongside illustrators themselves, there are also fascinating roles in the more theoretical and educational side to illustration: illustration curators, collectors, patrons, teachers, illustration historians… What advice would you give to someone looking to develop their skills and interest in this field of illustration?
Vimal : Yes, being an illustrator gives a wider range of opportunities in front of you. Often it can be a starting point and you can even divert into any direction.One need not even stick with illustrations. ‘Keep exploring the possibilities’ is the advice I would like to give to everyone who wishes to be in the field of illustration.
Q11) Any future plans :) ?
Vimal : I am not that kind of person who thinks much about the future so there is nothing specific in my mind right now. Taking one day at a time,living the life a bit more slowly might be my only plan :)
Thank you all for reading and a big thanks to Vimal Chadran for collaborating in today’s post!
It’s a pleasure!
If any of my readers here , wish to know more about his fascinating artworks , online merchandise and his photographs. Do open the links mentioned below.
Website : https://vimalchandran.com/
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/vimalchandran/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/vimalpaintings/
Twitter : https://twitter.com/vimalc