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Ranganath Krishnamani

So how did you get into art and illustration?


I was always interested in art as a youngster. I started to draw when I was around three. This was something that stuck with me as I grew up. School was a great place to practice as I was made to draw on the blackboard during the art sessions. I would bring some of the drawings that I practiced at home to school blackboard, adding my imagination.


I distinctly remember drawing on the walls of my home as a child. The floor was a distinct cherry red color, and it became the canvas on which I started practicing drawing. My subjects were mostly pictures of gods and goddess that adorned our walls, which I tried to copy using basic white chalk pieces. By the end of school, I was very sure that I wanted to pursue art for my higher studies. 

As a group of designers educated in the US, the margins team loves an opportunity to discover artists from parts of the world where our design education doesn’t often touch upon. On a recent trip to see family in Mumbai, India, I visited a designer’s dream store – Kulture Shop, a place that sells lifestyle products promoting the work of Indian graphic artists. There, I fell in love with a series of prints bearing contemporary illustrations of Indian street carts by the very talented and versatile designer from Bangalore, India, Ranganath Krishnamani.


I reached out to learn more about the artist behind these awesome works and was delighted to experience even more pieces to fall in love with. Ranganath blends his view of traditional cultural staples in India with a bold, contemporary style redefining my knowledge of art from India. In this Q&A, margins discovers how the fine artist turned designer finds inspiration for his story-telling illustrations.

Those days, pursuing art/design was not considered a lucrative career option. However I was very sure this is what I wanted to pursue.”

Tell us about your thought process working a project – how did you develop this practice? What do you see as strengths or struggles?


I have focused on capturing stories through my illustrations, and style is something that has come about organically. I believe style is something that doesn't magically appear fully-formed the first time you draw something – having fun, hard work and self belief is what matters.


I do follow some basic structures of using the interplay of positive and negative space. Minimal shapes and the use of bold and bright colors adds contrast and focus to my works.


I guess time management and multi-tasking have been my struggles, while some of the strengths have been to stay curious, paying attention to details and work ethic.


I think personal projects have always been a huge source of strength in my works. it gives me freedom of self-expression, removing the boundaries of sticking to design briefs, style or deadlines. It allows me to explore, improvise, modify and solidify my thoughts, observations and beliefs. This also helps me evolve a certain style/mood based on the subject that I’m trying to represent, rather than sticking to a certain style all the time.

Who are some designers/artists that you feel have impacted your own practice? What about inspiration from outside the fields of design and art?


I was exposed some great artists, where I drew a lot of inspiration for my works. Cezanne, Monet, Matisse, Van Gogh, KK Hebbar, Amrita Shergil, R. M. Hadpad were some of the artists whose works I admired the most. The reason they were role models because they aspired, they approached and their works ended up light years beyond where they started. What struck me most about these great masters was their ‘Pursuit of Love’, their passion for their art. I have strived to follow from their example – the total commitment they had towards their work.


Dieter Ram, Pete Sampras, Rahul Dravid, Sting, Zakir Hussain – some of the inspiration outside the field of design.

july 2017
graphic design

What do you wish the world/general public knew about people in your field?


One common characteristic I’ve noticed in most artists/illustrators is that they exhibit heightened emotional sensibility – may be very sensitive to beauty, and visibly moved by aesthetic experiences – can often accept the disorder of chaotic environments or situations and are mostly introverts.

Edited by Padmini Chandrasekaran

“I believe style is something that doesn't magically appear fully-formed the first time you draw something – having fun, hard work and self belief is what matters”

After graduating as a fine artist, I moved away from pursuing art for a long period trying to understand technology and design and wrapping my head around designing for screen and web. 

Those days, pursuing art/design was not considered a lucrative career option. However I was very sure this is what I wanted to pursue. I was fortunate enough that my parents believed in this and supported me wholeheartedly all the way through.


About 4 years ago, one fine day I picked up my sketchbook and got back to drawing. As I started drawing more and more I realized what I had missed for so many years. If I look back and try to connect the dots, getting back to drawing was one the best things that happened to me.

What are some trends in your field that you wish you could bring back, and which ones would you rather forget?


Some of the trends that I would like to bring back would be surrealism – new ways to visually represent how we consume culture, just as surrealism looked at translating the unconscious in order to understand the conscious. Also Art Deco styles of bold, geometric forms with bright colors and patterns. Finally – lino art and printmaking.


The ones that I would forget are - Kitsch and decorative styles.

What's in your margins?

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