Sunil Pawar Interview18/07/2012
Sunil Pawar is a freelance illustrator who is not constricted to a particular medium of work, this allowing his creativity to extend the boundaries and capture the attention. Working under the banner Slingshot London ltd, Pawar has worked with some of the leading names in the creative world from from local pirate radio stations to international fashion houses while notable names include Junya Watanabe, Levi"s, Converse and even Atari and BBC.
James Oliver: Can you tell us about your journey through childhood?
Sunil Pawar: I was born and raised in North West London. I lived with my Mum and my older Sister. My late Father was an architect, and his work books and drafting equipment were still in the house as I was growing up so I was surrounded by lots of inspirational references, great books on design and architecture. Northern Line trains used to run behind our house, which led to an obsession with the underground system, I remember seeing the massive Eduardo Paolozzi installation in Tottenham Court Road tube station a few weeks after it had been unveiled when I was around ten, I was amazed that one man could create a piece of artwork and have his vision seen by millions of people every week (it's still there today).
Creatively, I was inspired by a mish mash of different things, at the age of fifteen I was doing artwork for music groups and radio stations alongside my school work. Like a lot of kids I was really into The Face and i-D magazine, club flyer designs, clothing brands like Passenger in Soho, Unity records, pirate radio stations, sound systems - I started DJing in my late teens which took my obsession with music to the next level..
JO: Did you study after school? How important or not important was this for you in hindsight?
SP: After leaving school I did a year's foundation course in art and design which I loved, education wise, it was great working in differing disciplines. I received a grant to study Graphic Design and Illustration which included learning bookbinding, typography and dark room photography, part of me wishes I had left school and gone straight into serving an apprenticeship which is a system I believe in strongly, however If I had gone down that route, I doubt I would have been able to experience so many different art techniques.
JO: Can you describe what you actually do in your own words?
SP: Put quite simply, I turn words into pictures - be it working from a commercial illustration brief or working on a TV commercial script as a creative researcher, I interpret the written word into a visual language, this also carries through into my personal artwork. For my last solo show at the Stern Pissarro Gallery, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve, the message and vibe that I wanted to convey with my paintings before I even started sketching up ideas.
I have two work-lives, one is the commercial side of things, my illustration/creative output. I love working to tight deadlines and difficult briefs, it keeps things exciting and makes a beer more tasty at the end of the day, the second is my own artwork and signature projects, stylistically both are linked, but they are different entities and I try and keep them separate.
JO: How has your approach and style of work evolved over the years?
SP: Theme wise there are common threads which have become apparent in my paintings over the years, style wise, I'm always trying to move things forward, working on different techniques, effects and compositions but you can still see hints of what I am doing now in my work from ten years ago, I love this, it reinforces the personal nature of my output and I guess shows some sort of journey taking place.
Occasionally I will revisit motifs from way back (the double man portrait/customized audio equipment).
My aim to create strong and bold imagery is still there, it's always been inspired by brilliant music, these days I draw parallels and similarities between the power of music and classic sporting pose with themes of battle and survival, the struggles and fights that a man faces on a daily basis. My last body of work was of a more personal nature, touching on the battles faced with my epilepsy (I was diagnosed with a rare condition in my early twenties) Wether I achieve this feeling of power and strength in my paintings isn't for me to say..
JO: You work on various mediums? How do you approach each medium differently and what do you appreciate the most about changing mediums of work?
SP: It is important for me to take into account how my work will be used/shown. If I am working on close knit canvas, I can really go to town with detailing and textures, whereas when I am providing artwork for say, clothing design, such as the Junya Watanabe releases, I strip my artwork right back to key elements and symbols.
It's important to take into account and understand the production techniques used, what might seem like limitations can turn into positives, I have recently been working with a pottery in the North of England, and have had to change my way of working as the designs had to be applied onto ceramic, it was a bit frustrating at the time, but out of that came a new simplified way of working which I can develop in upcoming projects..
JO: Can you outline your intentions to progress from this point in your life as an artist?
SP: At some point in the future It would be great to take a step back from everything, just for a little while - there is always a big pressure to constantly produce new bodies of work, the speed of the creative process is whirring round like crazy, you can find yourself envisioning the finished piece in your mind far too quickly.
It would be good to take a more relaxed approach to the studio, enjoy and explore the creative process, experimenting a bit more without worrying about deadlines or bank managers. I also get a lot of love from Tokyo and Hong Kong and am looking to establish myself there more in the future.
JO: Best lesson you have learnt while working in the creative industry?
SP: Don't take things too personal. Know when to push forward and when to fall back.
JO: Finally, words to live by...
SP: Treat people how you want to be treated and always get your round in.