Doodle artiste Santanu Hazarika is working on a special series of ink illustrations
Santanu Hazarika gave up engineering to become the first-ever Red Bull World Doodle Art Champion in 2014. Having collaborated with renowned names such as Raftaar, Ritviz, Divine (Gully Gang) among others, Santanu also painted live on the stage in the presence of superstar Amitabh Bachchan to support a cause. The self-trained artist talks about his collaboration with Ritviz for a limited-edition kurta. Read on:
You have collaborated with several Indie and hip hop artists like Ritviz, Divine, Raftaar etc. Please share your experience of that with us.
I have always been fascinated by music and musicians but unfortunately, I’m almost dyslexic when it comes to making it. So, the closest I have been in contributing to the music scene was making the album artworks and the respective merchandise. I started my career by making art for local bands in my town. It’s always amazing working with talents like Ritviz, Raftaar and the whole gang because we have a very similar taste in art, music and very open to creative thinking. It’s the fact that they trust me with my style of work and the ability to translate their masterpieces into a visual form is somewhat like a dream come true. Also, it has always been an effortless process for me as I can easily tap into their vision and artistry because we connect on a personal level.
Artists are increasingly focusing on well-designed and conceptualised art. How much does it contribute to making the project successful?
A good visual representation is one of the core elements of a release be it the album covers or music videos. End of the day it’s a visual language that represents and translates the essence of the music that it’s made for. Also, from a design perspective with the advent of the internet boom, portable devices and music streaming services, a striking artwork or a "thumbnail” stands out. Your music will be forever associated with that piece of artwork for the rest of eternity. Like all the iconic zeppelin albums covers, the artwork is what the music “looks” like. Not only that, it’s a visual identity of your music through which you further monetise your music, in forms of merchandise, so you need a really good design to represent your art in every possible way - T-shirt’s, caps, posters etc.
You have once showcased your work in front of Amitabh Bachchan. Please tell us more about that meeting and what did he have to say.
It’s was an honour to present my works to Amitabh sir, not once but twice. The first time it was in Delhi during NDTV youth conclave, I presented one of my award-winning artworks to him and Dr. Pronoy Roy introduced me as the Redbull world doodle art champion, and before I could say anything Amitabh sir replied - “well sir it’s an honour to meet you”. Literally, the cat got my tongue, because that was my line. And then I explained to him the concept of the artwork, he loved it.
The second time it was in Mumbai, where we shared the stage for 12 hours! It was a 12-hour tele-marathon where he was hosting and I was panting live. He loved the painting and explained his interpretation of it on live tv. Again. really loved what I painted and appreciated it wholeheartedly.
Doodling is mostly perceived as a hobby in India, what prompted you to take it up as a career?
Doodling is what taught me how to draw and how to articulate visually. As a self-trained artist, doodling is all the training I got. I started doodling during my college days, sitting on the last bench doodling on my notebooks, that’s how I learned. Later on, once I really got into it and won the championship, I met other doodle artists and was enlightened about what doodling is exactly. More than doodling, I’m an illustrator who started his career doodling.
Your next project is with Ritviz where you will be coming out with limited edition kurtas. That is something very unique, please tell us more about it.
So Ritviz and I go long back from his first album Ved to his latest album Dev and everything in between, we worked together to shape the visual identity of him and his music. Ritviz is known for his iconic kurta + sneakers combo. It was only natural that we come up with a line inspired by his look. So, the kurta is inspired by his first album art, where his comic version can be seen shooting down from space wearing a red kurta. So, this kurta is the same one, combined with his flower logo, thick yellow seam stitching which has a loose fit. It is extremely limited and dropping in a few days. But this is just one drop there is a whole line dropping soon .so stay tuned.
And why kurta?
Why not?! It’s part of our culture; it’s organic to us, why not make it a pop thing?!
Also, there another collab with DJ Su Real. How different will this be from the kurta edition?
This will be the first time I will be collaborating with Su Real and not only that it’s a collab between Su, Dutty deedz and the rap troupe - 7 Bantaiz. We are working on a complete art pack including the single artwork and super limited T-shirts.
How satisfying has the journey as an artist been after you gave up engineering?
I’m still not satisfied. To be honest, the only difference is that, now I’m more enthralled and more liberated to do what I want to do. I’m grateful and happy to be able to express the way I do without having to adhere to any norms, and really appreciate that people understand me and accept my art. The journey is still on and it’s still exciting!
What’s next after this?
After this, I’m focusing just on a special series of ink illustrations that will be entirely in analogue. Which I’m going to reveal in my first ever solo exhibition with Method, Mumbai. And also, a surprise passion project which I can’t disclose now.