Tanmay Mandal, illustrator and concept artist originally from Chattisgarh, India is a firm believer in imperfection. He is an admirer of mysterious shades and finds Egyptian mythical characters ‘fascinating’. This DC fanboy has made various artworks inspired by historic Hindu temples and quotes ‘perseverance is the key’ as the solution to keeping the inner artist alive.
Tanmay Mandal, based in Prague, Czech Republic works as an illustrator and concept artist. He has been recognized by the social media audience for ‘Hanuman and Bharat’ and ‘Durga’ both inspired by Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Mandal’s career as an artist started in 2010 with his basic drawing skills from where his hunger for creativity exhilarated. His characters follow the description of the goal and channel realism flawlessly.
Tell us about yourself, your childhood memories, education and your professional experience?
Tanmay Mandal: I am an auto-didactic artist from India currently based in Prague, Czech Republic. My lust for art propelled me from the land of spices to the land of castles. Each day is a journey to satisfy wild, unbridled curiosity through intense training and skill development. Started my career in 2010 with games but now I believe that life is a canvas waiting to be crafted with a million colours.
I grew up in a small town in Chhattisgarh called Narayanpur where I finished my schooling. Post schooling I tried to get admission into NID but it didn’t materialize. I took admission to a college in Noida for an animation degree course. However, I felt suffocated and thus, quit college after a year. Later, in 2010, I got a small job in a gaming studio in Delhi based on my basic drawing skills. Thus began a journey of everyday learning.
How did your creative journey start and how did you keep yourself motivated to keep on creating concept art pieces?
Tanmay Mandal: I have always been an artist by soul and it was nothing ‘discovered’. But my professional journey started in 2010 with my first job. In the past, I did get inspired by great artists. A river has no option other than to meander through treacherous terrain, my intrinsic nature is to imagine and create. There are ups and downs but eventually, an artist will always ensure hunger for creation. I never see my work as a job so I never had to struggle for motivation.
As your creations also feature a darker scarier side of mythological characters, how do you channel the scary aspect of a character in your conceptual art pieces?
Tanmay Mandal: I adore mysterious shades and dark moods. Art is about the interplay of light and colors. Light tells a lot about moods and emotions. The shade of scary lighting can make a funny subject scarier. For instance, a clown would look creepy or funny based on the appropriate lighting.
Your illustrations have a strong Indian mythological influence, is there a deeper connection to your choice of recreating your version of Hindu Gods and Goddesses?
Tanmay Mandal: Being a kid from the 90s, I grew up watching Mahabharat and Ramayan. They have a deep influence on me. After I discovered Shilpa Shastras ( Scripture based on Indian Art) I realized how much knowledge is required for an Artist to carve out historic Indian Temples. I thus took a deep dive into art based on Indian Epics.
How do you select a character that you want to feature in your design especially in Egyptian Gods & Goddesses pieces?
Tanmay Mandal: Egyptian mythical characters are super fascinating to me. At some point, I would like to paint them all but so far I did only a few which were interesting to me like Anubis, Seth, Isis, Bastet.
Being a Marvel and DC fan, which characters speak to you and why as they are a focal point in your creations?
Tanmay Mandal: I have always been a DC fanboy and my favorite character’s place is shared by both Batman and Superman, the second favorite would be Spiderman. The last pages of my notebooks were always filled with batman doodles when I was in school.
How do you effectively channel the realism in each of your art pieces?
Tanmay Mandal: Realism comes with strong fundamentals. Strong drawing, a good understanding of lighting and colors, perspective, anatomy, etc all aspects come into play.
How to retain your signature style in each of your artistic creations?
Tanmay Mandal: I never aimed for a style. It happened automatically. I think my style is evolving and always will. In terms of quality, I try to maintain a standard based on my creative taste.
As an online game character designer, how do you come up with the characteristics of each game character and their features?
Tanmay Mandal: Stylized or cartoon artworks are not my forte. This can be attributed to the nature of my job which is in the illustration area. I didn’t do a lot of character designing since a lot of those jobs are based on stylized or cartoon design language but I did choose some jobs for clients in my style where requirements are different so strategy varies. However good readability was always a major aspect and a goal. For me, characteristics of a character always follow the description of the goal with readability in mind.
How do you cater to projects which require you to deal with work outside your signature style?
Tanmay Mandal: Fortunately, the past few years the people who have approached me for work have allowed me to go by my style or wanted the illustration done in my style. I don’t think that I have a specific style, but a taste or standard is set in my mind. I do not like to do cartoony artworks hence I do not take any job in that fashion. There are always situations when I have to adapt a different art style, where planning and research play a bigger role to solve it. Reverse-engineering the sample helps to build understanding and familiarity with the style/result goal.
Except for Adobe Photoshop, which other software do you prefer while creating an art piece?
Tanmay Mandal: I use procreate for sketching.
How long does your creative process take from conceptual framework to final execution of details?
Tanmay Mandal: As far as my professional work is concerned, I usually finish an illustration within 2 to 3 weeks. Personal work takes comparatively longer.
What are the most compelling artworks you’ve worked on? What made them stand out on your list?
Tanmay Mandal: I have got a decent amount of responses on my paintings based on Indian Gods and deities. I have seen people sharing my “Hanuman and Bharat” and “Durga” paintings quite a lot on social media.
Why do you think it is important for an artist to stay connected to their roots and channel the influences of the same into their art?
Tanmay Mandal: Understanding of the subject plays a huge impact on the personality of the artwork. You have to be in the scene that you are painting and be a witness. Subjects we grew up with are always easier to visualize. However, we all grew up differently and thus our visual library is unique.
Staying connected to roots gives our art its own identity. At the same time pushing boundaries is equally important. If a kite has to push beyond the boundaries of the sky, it must remain connected to its roots. Although at times, I allow my thoughts to venture into the wild devoid of direction or even reason.
What has your journey as an illustrator and concept artist been like?
Tanmay Mandal: To be honest It is a fantastic ride. I am still a learner and always will be, which is the most exciting part in my opinion. Besides the back and neck pain, I have no complaints about my creative journey.
What advice do you have for young illustrators who want to leave their mark on the world?
Tanmay Mandal: Perseverance is the key. Never let your hunger die. Do not stop looking for answers. The best is still out there. You are merely a traveler on the journey towards perfection which may not even exist.
I have seen a lot of artists who stopped growing after doing BFA. They believed that they had learned everything during their graduation. This mindset killed their inner artist. “The more you dive, the deeper it gets”. We can never master our craft in this lifetime, so constant practice is the ‘sine qua non.