Vibhav Singh

Penguin Random House
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An illustrator and storyteller based out of Bangalore, India. Vibhav Singh started his career with album artwork and gig posters for some major indie musicians and bands across India. He currently co-runs an illustration and animation studio called Studio Sideline.
Vibhav Singh
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How did you get into illustration and how did you take it forward in the course of time?

Vibhav Singh: Growing up, I used to read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. As much as the text in the pages enamored me, I was equally drawn to cover illustrations and the myriad forms they took. Reading the text would spark my imagination and I wanted to depict those scenes the way they were in my head.

This fascination with images grew over the years and led me to start exploring illustration as a medium to express myself. In college, as a way to challenge myself, I started an Instagram series where I made artwork inspired by music. These caught a few people’s attention and soon I started getting approached for poster and album artwork.

Profile of a smoker

Please take us through your initial work of album artwork and gig posters with major Indian musicians and bands.

Vibhav Singh: I started out creating a couple of posters for Sofar Sounds back in 2017. Those artworks got the attention of the indie music community and, in early 2018, I got approached by Anu Jain to do the cover artwork for his song ‘Ocean’. I then did a gig poster for Tejas and another one for Swarathma.

During my internship with Sajid Wajid Shaikh, I had the opportunity to work with the amazing Achint Thakkar and create an album cover for his album “Achint and the Khan Brothers”. Since then I’ve worked with Anuv on two more artworks while Tejas and I recently collaborated for an entire year on his new album “Outlast,” for which I created 4 artworks in total.

A wrecked news van

What are Studio Sideline and its vision? How did the idea come about and how did you build it further?

Vibhav Singh: Studio Sideline is a collaboration between four illustrators/animators that decided to come together to create work they always wanted to create but never had the manpower, bandwidth, or opportunity to do. Our vision is to tell stories that have hearts and to execute them at the highest quality.

A musician walking with fantasy friends

Please tell us about your projects and experiences as an illustrator with brands like Netflix, Converse, and Amazon.

Vibhav Singh: I worked on a mural with Kultureshop for Netflix’s new offices and made cover artwork for a couple of Audible originals. My collaboration with Converse was part of their Converse Peace campaign, for which I was selected alongside 8 other amazing artists from around the world.

A woman looking at a bug

What have been significant illustration projects of Studio Sideline? Kindly elaborate on a major one, in terms of its concept, brief, ideation, creative process, execution, and final result.

Vibhav Singh: Our studio is in its early stages at this time and most of our projects are currently either under progress or unreleased. We’re working on some really exciting stuff in the illustration/animation space but I’m not at liberty to give any more info on that right now!

A woman in a glowing forest

Do you have any particular approach or practice to ensure better sync with clients?

Vibhav Singh: Being clear and firm in your approach from the very start always helps. I make sure to let my clients know what my process is like, so both parties know what to expect. Setting terms, boundaries, and commercials, preferably in the form of a contract, goes a long way.

A woman looking at a flying shp

When a new project comes to you, what are your criteria for accepting or declining it, and, then, what is your process and approach as an illustrator toward execution if accepted?

Vibhav Singh: I usually try to ascertain what the project is adding to my body of work – whether it’s bringing diversity to my portfolio in some way. The client also affects the decision. Depending on my availability, I try to stay away from briefs that feel too derivative of other people’s work or my past work.

Three men sneaking

Once accepted, I start by getting a good idea of what the client’s vision is; what they want to convey, and how I can help them do it with my own ideas. I then create a few concept sketches showcasing different possibilities for the output, which are then discussed with the client to finalize one. I further take that concept ahead and execute it into the final piece, usually leaving one round of changes for the very end.

“Our vision is to tell stories that have hearts and to execute them at the highest quality.”

What kinds of work are you now looking forward to and excited to do going ahead?

Vibhav Singh: I would love to work on anything that’s narrative-based, primarily book cover illustrations and zines.

A crowd in the future

How do you see or perceive the current illustrative world and the trends across the scene?

Vibhav Singh: To me, this seems like a resurgence period for illustration as an art form, especially with what digital has added to the possibilities and the constant blurring of lines between illustration, animation, fine art, installation art, etc. Not to mention the slow shift from photography to illustration for major visuals like movie posters, album covers, and books. The recent comeback of international 2D animation is also a great sign for the illustration industry because it represents an appreciation of things hand-drawn.

Two people traveling on mounts

What, according to you, can clients and artists both do to create a strong, healthy synergy that works for the benefit of the project and all those involved?

Vibhav: Contracts!

Camping with an elephant
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