Pavan Rajurkar is an illustrator, graphic designer, animator, and storyteller who draws inspiration from his surroundings and finds solace through his artistic expression that morphs into a unique style for each varied creation.
Pavan Rajurkar is a freelance illustrator based in Mumbai, India. He has done his graduation from Sir J.J. Institute of Applied Art, Mumbai, and Masters from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad. He has worked for numerous advertising agencies such as JWT, Interface, RK Swamy BBDO, DDB Mudra, Radio Mirchi, and many other studios based in Mumbai. He was also featured in Lürzer’s Archive’s 200 Best Illustrators worldwide in the year 2016. Pavan believes in imbibing every one of his artworks with his unique twist; and therein lies his biggest strength. He likes to explore various styles but has developed his remarkable style over the years. Pavan always looks forward to incorporating his skills of illustration to other forms of expression such as animation and other wide variety of mediums with a focus on storytelling.
Styles: Pavan Rajurkar is an artist who takes his surroundings and projects his unique amalgamation of traditional and contemporary styles to captivate audiences. A chameleon of adopting styles according to the finer message behind an artistic piece. With traditional Indian cultural influences as well as an abstract western mass appeal aspect interwoven into his art.
Can you tell us a little about your life and the path that led you here, to the world of art?
Pavan Rajurkar: As a child, I was highly impressed by the cartoons and used to try & imitate them through my art. All my notebooks were full of scribblings and sketches. This keen interest slowly grew into a serious involvement with art. Fortunately, my parents recognized my talent & interest and encouraged me with all the areas of my field.
I was provided with different stories and coloring books and enrolled in various drawing competitions in school. And as if that wasn’t enough, they also posed for me at times so I could draw them! The activity then became enjoyable and an integral part of my childhood. My sources of inspiration were from movie posters being painted in my town. As well as the Ganesha & Durga sculptures created by artists during the festive seasons. All these mundane everyday activities influenced my decision to be an artist.
What inspires you to draw?
Pavan Rajurkar: Every art has a common source – stories. And I have always loved listening to them, especially Indian fables. Then, as I got acquainted with different art forms in our culture, I realized they are all a great source of relatable tales
As a kid, I used to draw mythological characters from the stories which my parents and grandparents used to narrate to me. Then I learned to seek inspiration from my surroundings; be it colors, culture, or people. In my view, anything and everything is inspiring in one way or the other.
I also believe that for every artist, at least some part of their creation is a reflection of who they are in the world. Although one uses one’s physical and logical prowess to create art, the core of it originates from within oneself. This sense of self is influenced and shaped by aspects like culture, life views, social circle, beliefs.
This is why exploring your surroundings serves as an inspiration that pops up anytime from anywhere. And in a country as vibrant and culturally rich as ours, it’s all the more fascinating! Other than that, staying in touch with one’s roots is where one can get their unique style from.
The pandemic has turned our lives upside down. How were your days in quarantine? How did art help you?
Pavan Rajurkar: Yes, it has been a difficult phase. Unpredictable, unexpected, and never experienced before. Although my art is my profession, it is also where I find my solace. So yes, I turned to it even more to find some peace. But two things I strongly believe in are- mindful practice in maintaining calm and strictly following safety precautions.
To maintain a sense of calmness and patience; I spend more time at my work-station and indulge in a lot of documentaries/movies these days/. As well as started experimenting in the kitchen and creating some new dishes! Another important part of my routine is calling home every day and staying in touch with my parents! Sometimes, I happen to pick on the moments they describe and sketch them out. So, I circle back to art which eventually helps me to shift my focus away from the negativity.
Can you talk to us about your quarantine art series, in terms of inspiration, style, and color choice?
Pavan Rajurkar: Since the pandemic hit us, things changed drastically. Not for me but everyone has suffered in their ways trying to cope with this scenario. This stirred something in me and I decided to portray it in my art. I chose to call the series ‘Trapped’ because it represents the way we all feel in these times; stuck in the same time loop. Even the color schemes I have chosen are basic but brightest shades that create contrast while highlighting the gravity of the subject.
Though your artworks come in various styles, on keen observation, one can surmise that they are based on abstract and cubism. How did you develop such a style? Can you elaborate more on the same?
Pavan Rajurkar: I like to explore new styles whenever I get the chance to do so with varying projects. But most of my work is a reflection of my observation of the surroundings. The styles which I follow or create are not cubism but you can call it a fusion of traditional and contemporary styles. While there is some Indian influence in my styles, it also goes beyond that and explores new areas. Overall, one thing I’d like to reiterate is that the key source of inspiration is always found in one’s surroundings. It is a live gallery of references for styles, colors, and whatnot.
Your color palettes are usually unique. How do you decide your color palette for each piece?
Pavan Rajurkar: I usually identify the main points regarding the project before I begin working on the final coloring. The topic, brand color schemes, tone, and mood of the illustration, are the things that I note down initially. Sometimes I also create small thumbnail options so the client can visualize and relate to the final output.
Pavan Rajurkar: To say the least, it was a very satisfying, delightful experience. The requirement was to create 12 illustrations for the new digital campaign and the brief was to show how music is omnipresent in our day-to-day life. We listen to music while cooking, dancing, in the gym, or even when just spending some quality time.
This got us started with identifying a set of relatable situations which we all experience every day. While we adhered to the existing Spotify brand guidelines, we aimed at a minimalistic style of illustrations focusing on the brand colors. Not to mention, creating stories with their talented team and cracking a simple effective style was a fun process.
What were the important elements that you took into consideration when you designed for the National Geographic Planet or Plastic campaign? Can you also elaborate more on your experience working on this project?
Pavan Rajurkar: This project gave me a free hand up to an extent since it came with an open brief. All the artists who were working on it had kept in mind the current scenario in the country and also our personal experiences related to the subject. After ideation and streamlining the thoughts with Vinay Gadekar (my friend), I worked on this idea which is about the contradiction in our words and actions when it comes to our attitude towards nature.
We always speak about respecting and worshipping nature in all its forms, however, it doesn’t show in our actions, right? We also speak of how there needs to be a balance between nature & development. Even a small plastic bottle is equivalent to a ‘bullet’ for sea creatures. And our negligence today is going to cost the lives of some organisms to such an extent that we will forever lose the “balance”.
In a nutshell, I could put my art to use in conveying a much-needed important massage. All we need is a behavioral change at a small scale and if my work manages to inspire that even in one person, I’ll consider my hard work has paid off. On a side note, this project has inspired me and as a result, brought some important changes in my daily actions.
Which project remains your most favorite work so far?
Pavan Rajurkar: I give my heart to all the projects I create but if I have to pick a few then ‘Bappanshi Gappa’, a Marathi poetry collection, is one of the closest to my heart. It depicts the humble friendship between deities and kids. The Kalaghoda print campaign and McDonald’s calendars are also very special to me. Some of my other favorites include projects for Zoya – A Tata Product Jewellery Store, Nat Geo Planet or Plastic, Audi q8 and HT 48 Hours and Society Masala Tea.
How would you describe your ideal client?
Pavan Rajurkar: Clients who know are clear about what they want are simply the most sorted of them all. Also, those who give open briefs make the collaboration quite interesting for me. As that allows me to play with colors and style without being restricted to certain set rules. Most of the work which I handle includes shaping the idea through interesting visuals. Mainly, my job is to narrate a story through visuals.
So clients who come with clarity and believe in your skills are the most ideal, according to me. However, as you associate with the same client more than once, gradually that understanding builds between both parties. This even helps clients to frame the briefs according to artists’ understanding and bringing out the best of their skills.
You can follow the illustrative storytelling of Pavan Rajukar on Instagram.