Bombay Duck Designs

Designer Interview Sameer Kulavoor is an Indian illustrator and visual artist, and also the founder of the studio Bombay Duck Designs in Mumbai, India. His work lies at the intersection of graphic design, contemporary illustration and art. Over the last few years, he has created a prolific personal body of work that includes self-published art, books and zines that take a look at characteristic mannerisms & archetypal facets of urban surroundings, design and culture.

Sameer, could you share with us your personal journey and the inspiration behind your work?
I grew up in suburban Bombay and I had a keen interest in drawing right from the beginning - thanks to a neighbour who was an art teacher and who used to show me her sketchbooks and diaries. As I grew older, I watched my surroundings transform with the advent of globalization. During junior college, I used to create illustrations for college magazines and was part of an 'ad agency' where we used to make posters for college events. Art school (Sameer studied at the prestigious Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art) helped me widen my interest in art and design. My experience as a freelancer was useful when I officially founded my illustration/design studio Bombay Duck Designs in 2008.


I never approach my work thinking about the outcome. It is always about that raw impulse that 'I have an idea and I need to get it out of my system by executing it'.


Your illustrations are very personal musings and observations of life around you. How do you keep this inspiration going?
I am a keen observer of happenings around me. I am curious. I find that most people are too busy to stop and look. I'm interested in how people live, how they make their own worlds around them. I ask myself questions like - Why does a street corner in Japan look different from a street corner in India; how do socio-economic factors affect design, and architecture; how does culture affect how we live?

All these questions and observations find their way into my self-initiated projects like The Ghoda Cycle Project, the Blued book, the Zeroxwallah zine and more recently, Kalaghoda Musings. Travelling to new places helps to open up my mind and look at my own surroundings back at home with new eyes. That's something you cannot do over the Internet. For me, a book needs to have that handmade quality like it’s actually been crafted by the author’s hands. Publication, as a format, was also a good way for me to put down multiple ideas.

How has the studio progressed over the past few years? Do you feel you‘ve reached your creative peak?
A couple of years ago, Zeenat (my sister and boss) who studied typography and graphic design at Sir J. J. Institute of Applied Art joined me at Bombay Duck Designs. She shares my enthusiasm for design and art and we've been working together as a team. I'm far from feeling like I've achieved everything I need to creatively. I like to juggle between various formats and instantly move from one project to another - ultimately it all boils down to the fact that I get bored very easily. Tomorrow I might do something completely different, a gallery show, maybe. I am open to everything.

Thanks for your time Sameer, we wish you much success!

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