KAB.N! Interview with Ajay Karat!

Self Portrait: Ajay Karat

1. Who are you and how long have you been working as an artist?

Hi, I’m Ajay Karat. (@devilsgarage). I’m a multi-disciplinary artist, specializing in user experience design, animation, and interaction design. Over the last 16 years, I have worked for and with companies such as Disney, Warner Bros, Nexon, NFL, Adult Swim, Nickelodeon and more. I’m currently working as a Principal Designer at a mobile game company called MobilityWare.

I started off my career as an artist in the heydays of the dot-com era (that’s when I first came across The PC Weenies!) before I got my big break where I got to work on the first Flash (Adobe Animate) TV show by Warner Bros called ¡Mucha Lucha!. Since then my work has spanned from TV shows like Metalocalypse, Lalaloopsy, Higglytown Heroes, to games like The Walking Dead, Dungeon Rampage, and Wheel of Fortune, to name a few.

2. How do you personally define art block? How often do you get art block?

I’m going to use Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s graph of Skills vs Challenges to explain the conditions that result in art block.

When one starts a new creative task (A1), and assuming the task is challenging, (like learning a new software application), this tends to create stress. If this task gets compoundingly challenging along the way, this tends to cause anxiety (A2).
On the other hand if a new task (A1) is creatively dull and repetitive, one tends to get bored (A3).

I would personally define art block as a frame of mind where a creative task is no longer creative because of compounding challenges, or is extremely boring.

This is a very common occurrence especially if I’m working on a new personal project.

PSX Car: Ajay Karat

3. What are some specific strategies you employ when dealing with art block?

The opposite of art block is flow. I would define flow as a state of mind where creativity is at its peak performance, and transcends time. Looking again at Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s graph of Skills vs Challenges, creative tasks over time bounce between anxiety, boredom, and flow.

The idea here is to use strategies to get one back into the Flow Channel.
Here are a few things I’ve noticed that help me deal with art block and get back into flow.

Goals: Have clear and reachable goals. Break down lofty goals into smaller goals. Set a simple goal, meet it, and reward yourself (with a break!).

Risk plays a big role in curbing art block. Risk for me creates focus and drives me back to flow. For example, a commissioned project has a deadline and monetary value.

Shared Goals: Working with someone on the same project who has flow. This shared passion to work on creative projects motivates me to keep going.

Dance of the Cars: Ajay Karat

4. Describe the biggest obstacle/challenge you’ve encountered working as an artist and how you overcame it.For most of my career, I’ve worked as a 2D artist. As of recently, I’ve stepped into the world of conventions and participated as an artist selling prints of my 3D models at a local con called DesignerCon. This jump from 2D to 3D has been my most challenging experience.
3D is a whole ‘nother ball game! Making art involves a lot of time, and trial and error. It has taken me years to learn and get the hang of 3D, and there is so much more to go to master this medium.
I practice on a daily basis and chip away at new smaller projects, picking up techniques and tricks to refine the process.

BMW: Ajay Karat

5. What’s your favorite, must-go-to online art resource that other artists may not be aware of? Why is it your favorite?

Other than the usual ones like Dribbble, Pinterest, Behance, and ArtStation and one of my favorite sites for a good mix of technical and creative content is polycount.com for 3D art.

6. Which artist(s) have been your biggest influences in your own growth and development as an artist?

I grew up in a retirement town in South India, besides a sleepy railway station. Once a week though, the intercity train would stop and bustles of people would flow out. These populous scenes would remind me of illustrations by Hergé (Georges Prosper Remi).

Tintin by Hergé

His art brings life to every little detail. These large-format, hidden-picture illustrations tell many stories at the same time like Pieter Bruegel’s paintings or eBoy’s Pixoramas. I love that everything has its importance. The one thing that inspires me a lot is his attention to vehicles – cars, planes, two-wheelers, trains, boats, submarines, even elephants have had a lasting impression on my growth as an artist.

7. Where can we see more of your work online?You can find my works over at DevilsGarage.com
Twitter – @devilsgarage
Instagram devils.garage