"Art as a medium inspires me. It has no boundaries and it is the truest form of self-expression." For this week's feature, we had a chat with visual artist Shantanu Hazarika.
The winner of the Best Doodle Artist title in the 2014 Red Bull Doodle Art Competition, he is also the co-founder of GAP - Gauhati Art Project, an urban arts initiative , which aims at building an art community in Northeast India. His art can also be spotted on the albums of musicians such as Raftaar, Ritviz, Nucleya and Divine; on sneakers by Adidas and Reebok; as graffiti on walls; and most recently, on a Rajasthan Royals tour bus, for the 2021 IPL season.
One of the most noteworthy members of the Supervek FAM, he was the talent behind our mask collection in collaboration with Hip-Hop brand 'Seedhe Maut'. With his keen understanding of what heavy metal and hip-hop stands for and his immense dedication to his art; it was no surprise that the Seedhe Maut drop has been one of our most popular collections yet.
" Could you walk us through your journey as an artist?"
" Back in school, I used to make sketches of comic book characters for my friends to earn canteen money. In engineering college, I continued the same practice in exchange of beers. . During the same time, word of my work started to spread and my musician friends in local bands from Guwahati and Shillong started requesting me to design their album art and equipment.
College was a grim phase in my life and I eventually dropped out to pursue visual art and animation as a career. It was a risk, but one I was willing to take to chase my passion. I took a leap, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made."
"How would you describe your artistic style? Do you draw inspiration from any other artists?"
My art is inspired by freedom of expression. I'm really into comic books and mangas and that has had a huge influence on my artistic style. I have also been inspired by the works of Fraancis Bacon, Salvador Dali and James Jean. I believe my art reflects what I observe in the world around me and draws satire on it - the element of subtle humor is what makes it interesting for me."
"Tell us about your experience while designing the Seedhe Maut masks. What was the thought process behind it?"
"I had been friends with the Seedhe Maut guys from before, I have been following their music from the very beginning. We have a similar vibe when it comes to music- I like hip-hop and heavy metal and Seedhe Maut is the perfect combination of both. For me, the artworks done for the masks was derivative of their anti-culture, anarchic philosophy."
"How did you come up with the concept behind each of the three designs?"
" Each of the three Supervek x Seedhe Maut masks represent a meaningful facet of the music that the group makes. One of them is a bloody mouth, with broken teeth, with a Seedhe Maut blot on the tongue. It's got a gory, street vibe that is meant to be as hardcore as their music is. The blade slash design is derived from the slash that the Seedhe Maut logo has. I had two different approaches with the design - one I wanted to go completely hardcore with while the other was to be very minimal. The third design is the perfect middleground - it has a minimal stick figure beheading another stick figure. It is a re-imagination of their logo."
"How was your experience working with Supervek?"
"It has been great working with Supervek, I love how they are creating a community around street culture. They don't just follow trends, they have a vision and they remain true to it. I also really like how they support various rising talents in the skateboarding, hip-hop and underground scene. In that sense, it's one of the only true streetwear brands in India."