Vikram Madan is our latest front window artist! Vikram is an artist and author whose work “can be humorous, quirky, fun, lighthearted, philosophical, thought-provoking, and sometimes, all of these at the same time.” His work will be hanging in our front window space through Sunday, May 7th.
What is the most useful creative advice you’ve ever received?
A paraphrased quote from Creativity Coach (read his books!) Eric Maisel: Be like an actor – put your whole self into your work. My interpretation: No half-hearted actor is ever going to give a convincing performance. In the same way artists cannot be half-hearted about their work, or let anything (internal or external) hold them back in realizing their vision. Don’t work fearfully. Don’t hesitate. Go all in. (I have to keep repeating that to myself. Daily).
Whose or what creative work (of any format) has strongly influenced how you approach your own art?
I am very, very impressionable so I am easily influenced by just about anything I see or like – books, movies, music, cartoons, and especially art of all kinds from all ages and cultures.
An Artist’s Work
Have you always been drawn to surrealism?
Twyla Tharp says that creativity is mixing idea A and idea B to arrive at something completely different. Where do you see that in your work?
Artists have been doing ‘mash-ups’ in one form or another for centuries. I just did an entire solo exhibition of paintings that blended lines of poetry with stylistic influences from contemporary american pop surrealism, European classical tradition and East Indian narrative expressionism.
Musician Dave Grohl says that artists have to learn to trust their voice. When did you start learning to appreciate and trust your creative voice?
When I was learning to paint a few years ago, I found myself conforming to what I thought audiences/galleries would want most (abstracts, figurative, landscapes, still life…). However the resulting work felt ‘disconnected’ from me. Only after I started adding bits of whimsy to it did it start feeling like mine. And to my surprise, the work started resonating more with audiences. That’s how I learnt I needed to start trusting my own instincts and not worry about conforming to what was expected.
You are a writer in addition to being a visual artist. Do you write in tandem with creating visual art? Does the writing inform what you paint or vice versa?
Some of my paintings do emerge from the words, i.e. I start with the title and the image comes later. In the same way some of my writing is influenced by thinking visually. So yes, it goes both ways.
How do you keep challenging yourself as an artist?
I do believe in the “no pain, no gain” school of thought. With every painting I try to push myself forward a little bit by trying something new and unfamiliar – a new technique, a new brush, new medium, a new color scheme, size, subject, style. Often the process becomes frustrating and I get stuck in the middle because I have no idea what I am doing.
Art and the Audience
What is the feeling you want viewers to have when they engage with your art?
I say I am trying to “make a world a better place one shared moment of levity at a time”. There is a lot of good art in the world, but I can’t help thinking so much of it is so serious. I want to create art that can be engaging and thought-provoking while still feeling very approachable and easy to get into. If it puts a smile on people’s faces and rekindles some lost sense of innocence, then I feel I am succeeding.
Your portfolio of work is inclusive in that it’s possible for everyone to find themselves reflected in it and validated as belonging to the whole of human experience. Do you pursue this purposefully?
I try not to purposefully target any particular audience, but rather create work that feels truer to myself. The fact that my work is appealing to people across a wide range of cultures, ages, and diversity simply highlights to me that we are all humans first and react to many things in the same ways. And since I am influenced by everything I encounter, it’s possible I am subliminally distilling common elements of the human experience into my work in a way that connects with people.