Kunel Gaur is a design chameleon with many tricks in his toolbox. He is the founder of New Delhi-based creative agency Animal and has an eye for nurturing young talent at his studio. He is a highly accomplished artist and graphic designer in his own right.
Kunel’s black & white artworks poke fun at both art and financial institutions. His personal work has even included Renaissance style paintings for Taxi Fabric. He enjoys playing with surrealism and other worldly imagery, as evidenced by his artwork for Adidas.
Kunel recently paid us a visit at Kulture Shop, so we spent some time hanging out and getting to know him better.
KS: Tell us a little bit about your influences growing up. Any milestones you’d like to mention from prior to your work as a professional?
Kunel Gaur: My aunt was a fine-artist. I’d stand beside her watching her work – whether it was water colour or oils or meticulously creating layouts using shiny Black vinyl letters with a pair of very thin forceps. I grew up knowing my right brain was sexier than my left brain, winning every art, design or craft competition in my school and versus other schools. Broke racing records on Need For Speed all-nighters sitting with the boys in a dark room listening to psy-trance instead of preparing for boards. Watched X-Files repeat shows to get a glimpse of Dana Scully’s extra-terrestrial escapades. Dated a short girl who dumped me cos I was too short for her. And got into a design school pursuing Advertising and Graphic Design instead of the original plan of becoming an astronaut.
View more of Kunel’s alien inspired characters over here
KS: Looking back, what choices did you make for your jobs and when did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Kunel Gaur: I wanted to be able to try a lot of things before I settled on something that speaks to me the most. And so I kept changing my discipline of work with every new place I worked at.
Starting with graphic design (and wanting to open my own design studio), moving onto space (and wanting to open a coffee shop), to web design (and wanting to open an interactive cum design studio), to advertising (and leaving advertising forever), to photography (and wanting to include it in my interactive cum design studio), to illustration (and wanting to become an artist) and then to films (because ‘Direction’). Until it got to a point where FOMO takes over and you want to get into everything altogether.
I had a name and a logo for each of the above, print ready files. But it just won’t happen until it happens. And so it did.
The above artwork was created for Kunel’s Taxi Fabric
KS: Tell us about Animal – when, what, how? What’s happening now and what next?
Kunel Gaur: I dreamt of a place that is filled with people with different skill sets and experiences. After my last full-time stint at W+K, it was me and the dining table for the initial few months while I kept looking for people to join hands and work together as well as concentrate on some of my own passion projects.
And I had a logo, yet again.
The word ‘Animal’ with a tail attached to it. And this time I really wanted to make good use of it, so I asked some of my friends to create an artwork on the exact form of the logo, keeping their favourite animal in mind. They asked their friends and soon I started getting logos from all over the world. So I put out a call to more artists who were willing to create one too. On 7th March 2014 I exhibited 101 artworks at a warehouse in New Delhi. Species is now an ongoing project on the website – open to all artists to contribute.
The diversity of ideas and effort put in Species, as well as some other projects I and Sharon (my partner) worked on paved way for brands and startups to initiate conversation with us. And so far we’ve worked on creating brand campaigns for clients like Housing.com, Adidas Originals, Microsoft, Shouut, Mercedes Benz, NDTV Gadgets, Indiatimes and Fitpass amongst others.
As of now, we’re working on some tech related design projects ~ making rapid prototypes using 3D printing, creating a VR brand experience for the launch of adidas Originals’ “Pharrell Williams” collection in India. And producing 360 degree videos for a GPS based app called Shouut. That is the plan going forward. We’re gradually moving towards experiential work that moves from merely talking about ideas to creating worlds around them, by making tech invisible yet consequential to design.
KS: How do you balance your personal artistic explorations and professional demands?
Kunel Gaur: I keep them poles apart. I make art after work and on weekends. It has a very sharp and definitive voice that I use to dabble into different mediums from print and illustration to installation, and other mediums that may have a potential to start a dialogue whilst keeping it away from the political fabric of the world. I’m working on creating new collection of work that I want to put up in a solo show at the end of the year.
Keeping Animal and my personal art away from each other helps me focus on them individually and doesn’t let one affect the other. I absolutely love how everything I learn during the day gets used during the night, and vice versa.
KS: We love all the art you’ve made available at Kulture Shop – pick two of your favourites and tell us about the inspiration behind them.
Kunel Gaur: They all have their own meanings, but the two that I’d talk about are :
• I See You: This artwork is part of a series of artworks that will be included in a book that I’m working on titled ‘The book of atheism’. The artwork falls under a chapter that assigns all living consciousness to one single being and encourages one to look at another as oneself. “I see you, as you see me”.
KS: Rapid Fire Round
KS: Anything else you would like to add?
Kunel Gaur: I’m looking for new talent to come forward and work with us at Animal. And would love to meet them and see what we can do together.
Visit Kunel’s Shop