A Word With - Brindha Kumar
Meet Brindha Kumar: a 25-year-old rising young talent currently painting the local scene with her marvellous animated illustrations. Her bright and bold illustrations are a fresh interpretation of modern art, coupled with subtle hues of her interests and concerned issues.
Having been raised in a fairly artistic household, Kumar credits her mother for nurturing the artist in her. Yet as a young student, though Kumar was greatly involved with the art club, she was still decidedly left-brained. Kumar was deeply immersed in economics and mathematics, but felt that art was something that comforted and soothed her beyond the facade of academic achievements. After leaving school, she was daunted by her future and she turned once again to art to help sooth her anxieties of the future and made it her life’s work.
The most interesting thing about Brindha Kumar's illustrations is how they she incorporates animation into her work when, typically, illustrations are still. What further elevates her pieces is how maximalist in view her designs tend to be. Every colour imaginable can be found in Kumar's designs, thus adding a sense of excitement and wonder for her viewers. Her bright, vibrant pieces have certainly proved how much Kumar has grown since her days in the United Kingdom. An ocean away and in completely different surroundings, the then-23-year-old felt that her time overseas has helped developed her enthusiasm and knack for creative expression. Hailing from a tradition-driven ethnic group, Kumar, surprisingly, had no objections from her family in order to pursue her artistic career. They have always been supportive of all her choices and achievements.
Kumar's first solo exhibition, ‘Kochi,’ paid homage to her grandfather's roots: a city in southwest India's coastal Kerala state. Kumar's immersion in all things art is also credited to the open-minded culture of the people in the UK. She recalls being present in almost every local art exhibition during her studies, and was always fascinated by the street performers she frequently saw. The culture of living and breathing art has been greatly embedded in her and as a result, she thrives.
Having looked through some of her mind-boggling pieces, it is amusing to know that some pieces are not necessarily born from her own creative spark. As with many graphic designers, it begins with her clients and their initial vision. That being said, having to reflect another person's idea using her own creative imagination has most definitely cemented Kumar’s capability in curating outstanding pieces. From rough sketches of the idea to editing the pieces with Photoshop, Kumar is dedicated to carrying out the whole process of from inception up to the final finishing touches.
Quirky, fun and kind just isn't enough to interpret this bright, young artist. What sets her pieces apart from other artists in Malaysia is how colourful they all are. In the eyes of the everyday people, her pieces scream creativity and excitement. But for Kumar, the time and energy put into her pieces is simply how she chooses to express herself. After her days of painting UK red, Kumar returned back to Malaysia where she currently illustrates for various clients and has been featured in a number of high-fashion magazines. Having been discovered by Harper's Bazaar Malaysia in 2016, Kumar managed to secure one of her big breaks in order to present herself and her illustrations to the scene. Her illustrations were a breath of fresh air in the December 2016 spread as 10 Malaysian women were clad in the most whimsical, intriguing illustrations which focused on varying themes on empowered women; from fairytale-esque to the embodiment of historic women. Kumar believes that her experience with Harper's Bazaar is, to date, her most memorable in her young career as an illustrator. With the major exposure that’s been gifted to her, Kumar continues to develop her style as well as experiment with others.
From Japanese-inspired pieces to current fashion statements, Kumar’s art screams authenticity. Her particular talent for transporting her viewers to seemingly exotic settings, even when she herself has yet to ever travel to such places is no less than genius. She credits the daily excitement in her life for her inspirations. “Basically everything inspires me,” she says. Kumar feeds on every imaginable inspiration she finds for the day. Random pictures, experimenting with colours, and even travelling, feeds Kumar's strong imagination. In trying to create and brand more ideas, artists usually credits a particular muse for their designs; but for Kumar, she doesn't set her standards on a specific value or vision, as she chooses to be inspired more by other illustrators like Sara Andreasson. In the local scene however, Kumar feels content as she can still connect with other illustrators who share similar vision and understands the hardship of being in a country with a dimmed spotlight on art. Sherwan Rozan, Guanyin and Zulamran Hilmi, are but a few of the illustrators that Kumar looks up to.
Sadly, being an illustrator in Malaysia is not always a bed of roses. In fact, Kumar notes, it is a constant struggle for recognition. The Malaysian market isn't as promising as it the international market, and thus, she does all she can to promote and base herself more globally. Although her pieces are remarkably enticing, she doesn't believe that there is a stable foundation for which she can thrive on locally. “Not much has been done for artists in my circle,” she says. The surge in art in recent times have helped several artists to expand their career, but it still dampens the opportunity for other artists like Kumar in order to be given the spotlight.
In terms of garnering profits, artists like Kumar needs good funding in order for them to realise their ideas. To add to that, clients usually don't value or understand the artistic interpretation of young artists and always look to cut costs, which makes it difficult and down-right impractical for struggling artists to work. This is why Kumar prefers working freelance. Like many other illustrators, she believes that freelancing allows her the ability for better in-depth creative expression.
With illustration being a small segment of design, Kumar understands the need to immerse herself in other forms of primary designs, like animation, in order to grow. Almost all of her pieces receive rave and positive reviews, and this is what drives Kumar to work and brand herself even more. Entrepreneurship values are greatly embedded in Kumar as she aspires to have her own business in the future, one which specialises in designs and, above all, her love for illustration. But for now, Brindha Kumar is content to mingle with everyone and everything as she paints the steps towards her success.