Anand Radhakrishnan was all of 19-years-old when he decided to become a doctor. Fast forward to 2021, the 32-year-old won the Will Eisner Award, also known as the “Oscars of Comic books”, for Best Painter / Multimedia Artist. Anand Radhakrishnan, a Mumbai based illustrator, is an innovative artist who refers to himself as an illustrator gravitating towards sequential art and Graphic Design.
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Anand couldn’t believe his eyes when he won the award. He says laughingly, “I knew I was nominated but, to be honest, I did not expect to win. Of course, I am grateful that I did though. My reaction was of surprise when I first found out on Twitter and then once I checked and cross-checked, I finally disclosed it to close friends and family. My wife Nisha and I later celebrated with wine that night.”
The work which won him an award is a graphic novel called Blue in Green that was released in October 2020. Blue in Green is a story of a young jazz musician who returns to his maternal home after her death. This journey sets him up on a disturbing path of discovery about his own ancestry.
His illustrations are usually bold compositions with saturated colors. They usually have a story to tell and reflect the artist’s deep interest in distorted art. It also transforms the contorted figures into magnificent artworks.
He is also famous for his Instagram presence. He sees the platform as both a visual diary and a way to connect to people.
His latest project is a self-initiated project called Kuntham, where he explores various themes that interest him. He has already launched the first set of the series with Floating Canvas Company with a sequence of collectable sculptures, followed by collaborations with fellow creatives. These sculptures are essentially subjective by nature so they lend themselves fairly well to collaboration and interpretation by other artists. This, in many ways, is the crux of the project. It is also designed in a way that it can be expanded indefinitely because it is built around a very loose structure that he can mould as he goes.
Quite early in his childhood, Anand realized that he had an interest in art. “I used to trace from magazines and comic books when I was a child. I kept drawing throughout school and finally decided to pursue it as a career after a year of BSc. Until that point, I had wanted to become a doctor and hadn’t even considered the possibility of art as a career,” he says.
We can see unique creativity in his artworks. His idea of beauty has changed with time. The things one finds grotesque or otherwise unusual or weird is beautiful and artistic in his eyes.
Most of his projects recently have been collaborations in the field of comics/graphic novels. Grafity’s Wall, Blue in Green and then the latest, Radio Apocalypse are some of his well-known works. He has also been working on various DC projects along with covers for various other publishers. Apart from these, he is constantly working on personal projects and sketchbook projects of his own.
So where does this Will Eisner award winner get his ideas from? Anand Radhakrishnan says, “There isn’t one place. I tend to maintain sketchbooks and online journals/notepads where I constantly note down ideas or thoughts. If a certain idea is interesting I will expand it in the form of notes or sketches.”
He added “Most of the time the ideas come from free drawing in my sketchbook. A certain thing about a certain drawing excites me and I explore that aspect of it until I either find what I am looking for or exhaust the idea till it burns out.”
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What can you, as a budding artist, learn from Anand Radhakrishan? Well, here’s what the artist has to say –“Always maintain a visual diary or sketchbook. Carry it everywhere you go and think of it as an extension of your own mind. Don’t be conscious of what the explorations and drawings look like in the sketchbook, be bold and irreverent. Consume as much art and media as you can but at the same time keep in mind that the real work happens on your desk in solitude when no one is watching. Learn to enjoy the process.”
At the end of the interview, I was in awe of his story. And of course, I was inspired to say the least.