Today we’d like to introduce you to Asavari Kumar.
Asavari, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I was born in New Delhi, India to a family of academics. Professionally, both my parents are educators but thinking back – I believe they were concealing artistic souls. As a child I noticed that my father had a deep passion for music and my mother was an avid painter, storyteller and a prolific baker. Although I was always ‘making’ things as a kid – mostly to escape the drudgery of school, I was never fully conscious of how much I loved creating till my father temporarily moved our family to Stockholm, Sweden for his work. There wasn’t quite as much strain on students and nobody seemed to live and die by the grades they got. The school I attended had a ton of art and craft classes. I vividly remember thinking to myself as I made hideous splotches of paint on paper “I want to do this every day of my life”
Over time, my parents realizing that it was unlikely that I would follow in their footsteps, encouraged me to pursue a professional career in design – which was very unusual at the time given that I was surrounded by folk who were going to have ‘stable’ and ‘respectable’ careers in engineering, law and medicine.
I got my BFA in Animation film design from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and spent the next three years after graduation working in TV broadcast, motion graphics and advertising. I was fortunate enough to get my start at Channel [v] India with an incredible group of producers, directors, writers and animators that were creating really wonderful work. Following that – in my role as a freelance artist I wore many hats – director, designer, illustrator, animator – to name a few and had the opportunity to work with brands and studios like Disney TV, VH1 India, Vodafone & GQ.
Although I had had many opportunities and met a lot of incredible artists in Mumbai – I was frustrated by the fact that there was little to no exciting animation work happening in India. A majority of the original projects that were being pitched for TV and film were mythology related. There also was a copious amount of outsourced VFX and production work that was being sent to India – which again was not something I wanted to pursue. It also felt particularly unsafe and uncomfortable being a woman – especially when I would travel back to New Delhi.
I was craving creative stimulus and felt a strong need to develop my voice as an independent artist. This brought me to Los Angeles in 2011 to pursue my very own version of the American dream. I got my MFA in Experimental Animation from the California Institute of the Arts in 2014.
About a year after graduating, I founded Supernova Design with the intention of creating an animation and design collective that reflected my personal values, helped me have more autonomy in the terms of engagement with clients as well as forming an umbrella under which I could create meaningful personal work with like-minded artists. I was joined in this journey by my younger sister Shaivalini, and even though we are several time zones apart, over the course of the last few years, we’ve created both commercial and personal projects under the name of Supernova Design. We’ve had the opportunity of working with brands like Google, Slack, YouTube and Headspace while being able to share our personal projects at local events like LA Zine Fest and Comic arts LA.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I think my art (like me) has gone through several iterations – trying to conform to varying expectations and being moulded by limitations and pressures. It’s not evolved freely with unfettered encouragement. At present I’d like to think that it is slowly beginning to come into its own. With every project I’m able to peel away another layer to look beneath the surface and get closer to its core. When I do finally reach the core, I’d like to think that there will be a brilliant burst of energy – a supernova !
My work is medium and style agnostic and is primarily character driven. I create animated films, installations, comic books and illustrated work that focuses on using sequential storytelling as a means to counter feelings of displacement and acculturative stress after moving from India to Los Angeles. By creating this body of work, I intend to generate a discourse surrounding the themes of cultural and political identity, the idea of home and what it means to ‘belong’ and find where my own narrative intersects with those around me.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
I think the role of artists has always been to offer fresh perspectives and challenge the status quo. Having worked extensively in advertising and the digital marketing space – I can confidently say that the noise is more overwhelming now than it has ever been. It has become increasingly difficult to parse views and opinions and separate reality from fiction. Considering the current political climate – anyone who has the opportunity and platform to talk about issues, offer solutions, create awareness and express solidarity should proactively be doing that. I am particularly inspired by art collectives like KADAK (https://kadakcollective.com/) that are doing some fantastic work. This year I decided to step away from commercial projects to direct an animated short film titled “Passage”. It chronicles the personal journey of a female Indian immigrant to the United States. Within the framework of the often bizarre and bewildering process of gaining permanent residence in the US, the film navigates various aspects of the protagonist’s emotional landscape while exploring themes of memory, identity, belonging and the illusion of the American Dream.
The primary intent of this piece is to respond to the growing anti-immigrant sentiment in the US and in a larger sense, respond to a severe lack of female and POC representation in the advertising and entertainment industry. I have the privilege of working with amazing women and POC artists on this project, you can find out more about our team here ( http://www.supernovadesign.net/new-index#/passage/ )
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My work can be seen online at www.supernovadesign.net. I also have a studio space in the Beacon Arts Building and try to be a part of local open studios events where I can meet people and talk about upcoming projects. People can reach out to collaborate on projects, request commissions or purchase work from Supernova’s online shop (http://www.supernovadesign.net/shop/). Cat enthusiasts can visit Haute Cature (https://hautecature.net/) for cat print t-shirts and other feline themed goodness. I will also be a part of the ‘Post it Show 14’ at GR2 gallery starting Dec 1, 2018 (https://www.giantrobot.com/blogs/giant-robot-store-and-gr2-news/post-it-show-14-begins-dec-1-and-ends-dec-9).
- Website: www.supernovadesign.net
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/supernovadesigninc/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/supernovadesigninc/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/suprnovadesign
- Other: www.hautecature.net
Photographs by Maria Jose Govea (http://www.thesupermaniak.com/)