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Strokes of imagination!

Hyderabad-based Sri Priyatham is a freelance illustrator with a fine arts degree in illustration from Jawaharlal Nehru Architecture and Fine Arts University (JNAFAU). Priyatham has been drawing since he was a kid and drawing professionally since the last 10 years. He informs that he always enjoyed sketching and realised it when he was in 8th standard that it will be his career choice. He says that his parents were supportive as they have always allowed him to make his own choices.

He recently rose to fame for being the only Indian illustrator to be part of Netflix's Global Artist Outreach programme. Under this initiative, various artists from across the world created illustrations based on their interpretations of Season 1 and 2 episodes of the popular show 'Stranger Things'. The Hyderabad-based artist has always dreamt of becoming an illustrator and nothing else. Most of his works are based on Hyper-Realism, where the most intricate details as perceived by the human eye make the illustrations stand apart. Priyatham firmly believes in jumping out of his comfort zone and challenging his skills. He believes that imagination is limitless.

Priyatham will take the centre stage at the fifth edition of TEDxHyderabad to share his journey and talk about what ticks his creativity. The theme of TEDxHyderabad 2019 is 'LIMITLESS' and will feature diverse individuals.

Excerpts from an interview:

Since when are you doing illustrations?

When I was in my 9th grade, I came to know that there was a full-fledged four-year course being offered by JNTU in fine arts and got myself into the entrance exam and eventually making it to the admission as one of the top rankers.

Where did you learn the craft?

There was a lot of unexpected struggles I had to face as I chose a stream, which is not quite popular as other choices like engineering or medical. The usual financial expectations at home by the end of graduation and on the other side, the course content was not something which we could embrace and learn to implement it in the practical world which we were meant to. The environment at the time was not empowering as there was a great political turmoil happening. I had to practice and learn on my own and pick up all the techniques from the internet and the internet has become my teacher since then.

How did Netflix happen?

I believe Netflix has found my work on Instagram as a part of their usual hunt for talent. The creative team of Netflix USA wrote to me about their hit series – 'Stranger Things' and its global outreach programme for their then-upcoming Season 3. The idea was to have 16 different artists from 16 different countries to illustrate the 16 episodes of 'Stranger Things' and I was told that my work has been short-listed from India as they felt my style would suit episode 5 well. The mail took me by surprise as I never expected Netflix to approach me regarding my recent favourite TV series and it was surreal to find myself working for the show!

I could not believe my luck. I had never anticipated such a major opportunity. I was an avid follower of 'Stranger Things' and to be part of what I loved, would have to be divine intervention.

What was the idea behind the concept of your illustration for 'Stranger Things'?

The entire idea was to create the gist of the episode in one single illustration where the viewers could understand what was happening in a particular episode in a visual format. After multiple back and forth, I was expected to illustrate detective Jim Hopper, who gets stuck in the upside-down and trapped by the Vines underground and goes missing. I had to find references from the internet and watch episode 5 of season 2, which is called 'Dig Dug' for more than 12 times to juice out what was happening in the episode. There was a lot of creative liberty provided by the Netflix team, which helped me to ease myself and go comfortable in my style of rendition. There were 2-3 different phases, which required approval from them to give the final version a go.

How much time did it take to complete the project?

The whole project took about a month. It was indeed a tight deadline alongside many other projects I was working simultaneously. But it wasn't a problem since the creative freedom and professionalism they've displayed was simply amazing.

Tell us about your inspirations behind your artworks.

I draw my primary inspiration from pop culture i.e., cinema and music and people who excel in whatever they follow. I am extremely motivated by people who are absolutely passionate about what they love. I look upto many filmmakers and musicians as I am a huge movie buff.

Why do you choose to work in Hyper-Realism mode of illustration?

Hyper-Realism concentrated on seeing every little detailing in a zoomed-in mode. It captures every single detail we usually miss in reality when looking at a face. This requires a rigorous understanding of textures and multiple techniques to translate them onto the sketchbook. I love details and the emotion it delivers to the viewer's eyes and it is so much fun rendering artworks.

Your favourite cartoon character/s?

'Popeye: The Sailor Man' and 'Pokémon' are my favourite cartoons among many others. 'Pokémon' is the game-changer in the art scenario here. I would give credits to all these cartoons, which poured the motto in me before I even grew up.

What are your expectations from TEDxHyderabad this year?

I am looking forward to meeting new people, who are incredibly talented in their own strides, especially the members of the audience and my fellow speakers. I would be happy if my choice of career could inspire parents and youngsters out there who want to go creative with their career options.

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