Anand Shenoy’s comics about the human condition carry a striking sort of self-awareness and dark humor. It is perhaps these qualities that make his work deeply relatable and popular.
A graduate of the College of Fine Arts at Chitrakala Parishath, Bengaluru, Shenoy experimented with several mediums before settling comfortably into comics. Under Pagal Comics, his joint venture with former classmate Mohit Mahanto, he has published around 35 titles over the last five years.
In 2020, Shenoy started self-publishing a solo comic anthology series entitled Zoo and has since published a sequel as well. Part 3 of the anthology is on deck to be published next year. Born during the initial pandemic months, the series depicts “people in predicaments and holes they dug for themselves”.
Currently, Shenoy’s comics are on display at Indie Comix Fest at Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan in New Delhi through today, October 9. In an interview with Lounge, he talks about his need for fluidity in his space as well as his practice as a visual artist.
Can you talk a little about your creative process?
My process mostly involves choosing one particular idea or scenario, then I try to build upon it. A story is basically a lie told very well, and I try to add as many details to structure it in ways that are approachable, where I can make the reader believe in the story, and have conflicts with the characters and their choices. I'm mostly drawn to absurdity in everyday life. I try to magnify it and see how much I can stretch it out, how much I can play with it, and how I can base it in our everyday situations in life.
Describe your current workspace to us.
My current workspace consists of a table with an adjustable light box, which I use the most because it's comfortable to draw on, plus the spot has good lighting. I have another drafting table which I use to work on bigger size paper. I also have a set up in the balcony where I work on sculptures. Plus there's all sorts of paper, random objects, artworks, comics and printed material I've collected over the years kept safely in boxes.
Has it always been this way? Or has it evolved over the years?
I live with my parents, and my workspace is a room in our apartment in Delhi. We've been living here since 2007 and I guess my engagement with the room has been as long as that. After college, I've turned it into a proper studio I can function out of, and it keeps evolving to suit my needs and practice. What I was doing 2-3 years ago was very different from what I do now, so the space changes to align with my practice.
How would you define your daily relationship with this space?
I guess I spend most of my time here even if I'm not necessarily working. It's nice to sort of marinate in the space, just reading, watching things, resting. I don't really have a set structure, whenever I feel drawn to doing something I just start working on that.
Tell us about some of the eureka moments you have had and major works that you have done from here.
There haven't been any eureka moments, but I guess there are times when you find smaller details to work upon and that's just as satisfactory as the huge breakthroughs. But most of my works—that are important in the sense that they were the initial experiments which have grown into prominent parts of my practice today—have been in this studio.
If you were to trade in this place for another, what would it be?
There's no other place to be honest, I've literally grown up in this space, and it has grown with me. Even though that's a pretty huge statement, I still haven't come across a place I would want to trade with. Sometimes, I do wish my studio was in a place with better climate though.
What's the one thing that has always been at your workspace over the years? Why?
Clutter has always been a constant at my workspace! I guess things just pile up, and it's not really dusty or messy, but I like working amongst sculptures, stacks of paper, books I could refer to but never do.
The first artist whose work you followed closely/sometimes imitated. What about them appealed to you?
My uncle is an artist and I used to go to his studio often as a kid to draw and sculpt. His works had this absurdness, which was rooted in everyday-ness—it was quite humorous. I've shamelessly imitated him quite a lot, and even though I think I'm past it, the language of his images and humour still remains in my drawings.
What was the first medium/tool you used in the early years of practice? How has that evolved now?
My first medium was clay and animation. I used to make a lot of characters out of plasticine and make short animations. Then I realised the importance of drawing in any creative practice, and unfortunately tried to become a 'fine artist' for a while. But I soon got tired of the academic world of art and found it quite redundant. I used to be quite interested in comics but felt like there was no marketability for the kind of comics and stories I wanted to make. Once I got over the meaninglessness of that statement I got more seriously into comics and realised the kind of freedom and possibilities the medium had. Now I call comics my full time practice, but the influence of whatever I've practised in the past does come into my work quite often.
Creative Corner is a series about writers, artists, musicians, founders and other creative individuals and their relationships with their workspaces.