Self-identity and expression are the two major cornerstones of art. In fact, the arts industry is filled with conversations and pieces that tell individual and cultural stories. Being able to express oneself dutifully and creatively on canvas, or any other medium is what separates the mildly talented from the greats. For artists like Pallab Barua, self-expression comes easy, and it is often the first thing you would notice about his work, even before anything else.
Before discovering his talent and love for the brush, Pallab picked up on his desire to pursue fashion designing. NIFT (Delhi) graduate Pallab says, “Being a science student, it was kind of a crime to even think of doing fashion designing at that time, but my parents wholeheartedly supported me in this endeavour. I worked in the menswear fashion industry for a couple of years but then shifted my career to being an illustrator at one point in time. My parents have been immensely supportive during this entire journey and I know that they will keep supporting me.”
“I did take my preliminary art training under the renowned late Madhav Baishya Sir. But other than that, the specific field of art that I am interested in, is entirely self-taught,” he adds.
That craft was perfected through constant and dedicated practice and hard work, transforming himself into a force to reckon with in the art industry within and outside Assam. Pallab describes his art as “dark, fervid and invigorating”. He adds that his first big break was the source of his inspiration to do even more with his art. “My first break in this professional field came when I participated in the RedBull World Doodle Championship in 2017, where people really appreciated my art and found my style of work to be very interesting. That really encouraged me to tread this field professionally,” he says.
Over time, many of his concluded projects and artworks have shaped his style and approach to art. These projects have been the tipping point in his art career. For example, work with top brands like Ultratribe, famed contemporary classical band Shadow and Light helped him hone his craft by pushing him to his artistic limit. The many different album artworks for the Indie music industry also helped him explore the depths of his creativity.
In order to achieve his best results, Pallab has to tap into his well of creativity in order to produce quality artworks. Like many other great artists, Pallab believes art is more than just the financial benefits. He is more interested in understanding the needs of his clients, while attempting to peer into their minds and bring their desires to life.
“Prior to starting of a new commissioned artwork, I try to understand the wants and perspectives of the commissioner, try to comprehend a theme in relation to their expectations and then I start to do some basic research and try finding out information relevant to that particular theme from various books, Internet, documentaries etc. Like for the elements of ancient symbols, I prefer Dan Brown, for ancient pagan related symbols Temple of Set, for Egyptian symbols there is the Egyptian Book of Life and so on,” he informs.
According to the talented artist, he is greatly inspired by mythology and it is very evident in his artworks. “Well, most mythologies across different cultures are immensely steeped in creativity. The fables, gospels, epic stories hoard enough materials and characters to explore and I believe with a touch of creativity, we can create wonders while trying to present them from our perspectives.”
There are many other artists that motivate Pallab. He is as inspired by their artworks as his work inspires others. “I can name a few contemporary artists from whom I draw my inspiration from. Most of these artists deal in mythological characters/stories and abstract artworks with intricate detail images. I am hugely inspired by some of the great artists of this genre like DZO Olivier, Jung Gi Kim, and Mihai Manescu who always set a benchmark and inspire other artists like me to strive to make such detailed artworks. Inspiration can come from anywhere and there are a lot of budding and established artists from India as well like Abhishek Singh and Bijay Biswaal who inspire me regularly to create and enhance more compelling works. (There are numerous names in this field, but I am only mentioning a few names because it’s not possible to mention all the names)”.
Pallab also reveals how he manages to remain committed through all the challenges he has faced in his journey to greatness. “The different challenges that each work brings in terms of ideas, themes etc, themselves motivate me to be constantly creating and recreating art. The entire process of thinking deep, dwelling in my comfort zone of creative stimulation and finally putting it out on paper seems exciting to me.”
Talking about the future of illustration in the digital era, Pallab feels that digitally produced artworks are a thing now and they are definitely here to stay. He says, this medium of work holds immense potential and allows one to access and explore different styles of work in relatively short time and low costs, that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In a sense, digital artworks help expand an artist’s level of creativity, without compromising on the output. Now with the advent of the NFT (non-fungible token), the digital era is the future of artwork.
For ever-optimistic Pallab, there’s yet a lot more to be done in the art industry, and he is only just beginning. He says he is just like his visually challenged father who refused to give up at any point in life. “I refuse to give up too, no matter whatever obstacle lies in front of me. I would want to mention my father here. He was the founding vice-principal of Jorhat Blind Institute. I listened to his stories of fighting against the odds in life with great awe since childhood. It still amazes me how he completed his schooling and graduation, and further managed to study law. Gradually, when he started losing his eyesight, together with his close companion Late Prasanna Pincha established the Jorhat Blind Institute, which was later affiliated by the government and he served as the principal till his day of retirement around 10 years ago. My father is a glaring example of how he spent his entire life without any expectations from anyone, facing every hurdle on his way while dedicating his entire life to the service of underprivileged blind students of Assam. I started facing reality from him since a young age, and still take inspiration from his courage and kindness.”
Pallab, recalling his happiest and proudest moment says, “The official selection of Mirzapur’s poster artwork by Prime Video and Excel Media and Entertainment, created by me, helped me establish myself at an international platform. I’m so grateful that this happened!”
Describing his journey as extremely satisfying, Pallab hopes to release more works soon for his expectant fans who have been anticipating more of his mythological projects, and perhaps an exhibition that he reveals may just be in the works. “Yes definitely, I have more work soon to be released. I believe quite a few of the upcoming projects from our production house will be loved by the viewers. These exciting projects will be a result of the tireless efforts of quite a few talented artists coming together and working collaboratively. I don’t like to plan much beforehand actually. Rather, I believe in hustling and working hard in the present, will definitely shape a better future. Right now, I don’t have any immediate plans for an exhibition, especially considering the present circumstances, but would definitely like to exhibit if given a chance in the future,” he says.