How Aniruddh Mehta’s limitations unlocked limitless potential
Music has been integral to your life much before you took up design. Do these two passions interact? Moreover, does music impact designing in any way? I use music as a tool in my work, whether it’s art or designing or brief-based work. When I have to be concept driven, I switch a playlist of mine called Timeless and Meditative. It’s basically synth-based, string-based or piano-based music that can put me in a meditative space and help me focus. If I need to crack an idea through visual art or illustration, I listen to music that would psych me up and bring my energy levels a little higher like rap or my Hip Hop Playlist.
Almost without exception, all your visual works have a meditative quality represented through geometric patterns, repetitions and rhythms. For lack of a better word, my ‘style’ essentially just developed because of my limited skillset. Surprisingly enough, in school I was never into visual art, I was always leaning towards music. For me, art is more like a system, or rather a systematic approach about putting things in their places. A simple fact is that I didn’t start drawing with a pen and paper, I started with digital tools. If I have to sketch out an idea, I instinctively go to the screen, where I learned creating visual art.
In school I was never into visual art, I was always leaning towards music. For me, art is more like a system, or rather a systematic approach about putting things in their places. A simple fact is that I didn’t start drawing with a pen and paper, I started with digital tools.
Often, creatives have strong and firm opinions on developing a “style” of illustration and art. Did you receive any advice from seniors or mentors on this? Well, I didn’t listen to anyone, I just went with my gut. (Laughs) I was fairly, I guess, confident once I started creating my work. Of course, when I look back, a lot of it was very immature stuff, but at that moment I felt confident that it looked good and stuck to it.
What other advice did you overlook? I know there’s a lot of debate about taking up work for free, and the popular opinion is that one should never do it.
But I’ve done a lot of work for free. Zenzi Mills in Lower Parel was a club in Mumbai that programmed a lot of underground electronic music. At that time, the venue was a seminal part of Indian underground, electronic music culture. I worked on a couple of flyers for them. That was, so to speak, my first commercial work. I ended up making a logo for the DJ producer at the time. Eventually, a few years down the line I also did a street mural in Mumbai for St+art. It was not a commercial project; I didn’t get paid for it, but it led to the Facebook office mural. Though, that was the case five years ago. Since I run a small studio now, I have a cut off. If the project does not have a certain budget, then we don’t take it.
Since I run a small studio now, I have a cut off. If the project does not have a certain budget, then we don’t take it.
Is the responsibility of a studio restrictive to your creative freedom? Not really. I feel like it would have been exactly the same whether I would’ve called it a studio or not. It’s just a name for me, nothing changes. Though, it makes more of an impression on the client. At the end of the day if I’m freelancing, the admin work is the same—sending out a number of emails, doing your taxes, investing in business development, reaching out to other people, and such.
Since you mentioned that it’s just a name, tell us what’s in the name of the Studio Bigfat. (Laughs). So, um, basically, it’s one of those names that you don’t put so much thought into, just roll with it and then six-seven years later this is how people know you. Most people knew me by my Instagram handle, @thebigfatminimalist, the whole idea of which was of juxtaposition—big and fat with something minimal. For the studio, I didn’t want to intellectualize things too much, or make it too academic, so I just went with Bigfat.
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