The Mumbai based illustrator from 90s began freelancing with the Mid-Day. A strong contender in the Indian domain, he was nominated at the Comic Con India Awards for Angry Maushi. Abhijeet Kini got his first big break at the age of 18 when he started sketching comics for Jam Magazine. He opines that art is from all around us – celebrities, neighbors, relatives, the strict school headmasters.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THIS EPISODE
- Embarking on the journey of Angry Maushi – from a spontaneous take to the pedestal of Comic Con India Awards.
- The Building of Plan B: A community of Comic Artists from Mumbai.
- On art reflecting upon society and Kini’s contrarian view on it.
- Let your child be free and pursue what they want to. Do not kill their dreams of becoming a chef, a photographer, a fashion designer or whatever thing it might be.
WHAT Motivated YOU IN THIS JOURNEY?
I got my initial big breaks while I was in college, through a few newspapers and magazines. A very close friend of mine informed me about Mid-Day looking out for an illustrator for their newly launched website online portal and I gave it a shot! This marked the beginning of my freelancing career. A monthly inflow of cheques pays for my 18 year old self was another boost as well!
This was in 1998, when I got my first assignment with the Jam Magazine from where most young illustrators and writers started their career. But I do remember sketching on every possible surface right from the age of three or four.
YOU ALSO BUILT A COMMUNITY OF ARTISTS CALLED PLAN B. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT IT?
I had a network of freelancers I knew from the media and graphics outlet company I worked for in Andheri. The office was an incredible space to work from, for certain reasons many of the artists discontinued working there. After leaving the company, my ex-colleagues and numerous freelancers got together to sync out Plan B.
This is a community of comic artists where we take a project in, distributed the work among the members of the community and built great art! The force of being in a community of incredible artists was a wonder! We made great innovations come out as our art.
THE MAKING OF KINI MERCH. WAS A SPONTANEOUS TAKE OR AN AFFECT OF DELIBERATE PLANNING?
Kini Merch was started by my wife Diksha and myself just before we got married! It was her idea to commence with a merchandise. It was the Mumbai Comic Con 2011 and I had little idea what to showcase. She suggested to get my own merchandise with my art work on it. And I did! 🙂
That was the beginning of Angry Maushi. People started to wonder whether it was a comic, a movie or anime! What started off as a showcase, now has become a merchandise language which people like to purchase or have a look at. That is great inspiration for myself.
Kini Merch now is close to being four years old.
HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU HAD TO EDIT A PANEL?
To speak the truth, I never really edit my panels. Most comic artists write the script first and draw the cartoons later. But for myself, whatever comes to my mind I keep drawing that.
In places like Tinkle, we get a script which we convert into comics. Angry Maushi from the very first has been a spontaneous take. Sometimes people are skeptical of the sequence of the slots. But, my creations have always been had a flow of the flavor than a sequential plotting.
DO YOU DRIVE THE SKETCHES FROM FACTUAL SITUATIONS OR IS IT FICTIONAL IMAGERY?
People say, art reflects society. But I would say, society reflects art. Sometimes a character demands to be shown in a specific way. For myself, I try to relate it to the closest possible person. Whether its celebrity or a neighbor or relative. I have a habit of making a note of various faces or shapes.
Most things which an artist sketches is a reflection of what he or she has earlier experienced. For instance, when sketching out a strict school headmaster, we would immediately reflect back to their school days recalling the behavioral patterns of our school teacher.
When it comes to satirical comics like Angry Maushi, I do pick up real life characters. Though of course you will there is disclaimer that everything is coincidental at the beginning of the comic!
FROM THE EXTERIOR PEOPLE ONLY SEE THE GLAMOUR AND GLITZ OF SUCCESS. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE JOURNEY OF THE INSIDER?
For many clients holding an art degree was essential for understanding how better I was. Since I did not hold a professional degree, for some clients it was a setback. That in my initial years, at times stood as a glitch. It all depends on the portfolio and how well you can deliver your brief.
IN A FLASHBACK, WHICH MOMENTS OF YOUR JOURNEY CALL BACK TO YOU?
Being in this profession, it’s brilliant to work on various stories and various characters. Mr first self-published comic called Milk and Quickies and later Angry Maushi was one of the most exciting times of my journey so far. I was nominated at the Comicon India Awards for three nominations as well. Seeing my creations on that pedestal was another stellar moment.
YOU’VE WORKED AS A COMIC ARTIST FOR THE LAST 16 YEARS. HOW HAVE YOU DEVELOPED AS AN INDIVIDUAL OVER THE YEARS?
Over the years, the style of an artist changes with his or her perceptions. Initially, our work is not so finely tuned but eventually the exposure with various art styles and narrative techniques increases. The work of an artist is under constant evolution.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL FAVORITE COMIC SHOWS?
Satire and spoof of South Park is brilliant! Loony Tunes always reminds me of my childhood. I absolutely adore Daffy Duck!
MESSAGE FOR EMERGING COMIC ARTISTS.
My message is not just to the image creators but also to their parents if they are watching this. Let your child be free and pursue what they want to. Do not kill their dreams of becoming a chef, a photographer, a fashion designer or whatever thing it might be.
Interview directed by Mehul Gohil. Picture Coutesy goes to Rachit Singh.