Interview with Bombay Duck Designs

Interview with Bombay Duck Designs

Get to know Bombay Duck Designs (BDD), founded by Indian illustrator and visual artist, Sameer Kulavoor in this week's Kulture Shop Studio Interview. BDD’s image-making approach coupled with a wide arsenal of tools, methods and mediums have worked well for branding and identity projects, stage design, music videos, indoor and outdoor murals, book design, packaging design, website design, album art, self-published projects, editorial illustrations etc.

It is the earliest "specialized" independent studio of its kind in India.

KS: What kind of work does your practice specialize in?

Sameer: As an artist/designer, I draw heavily from my observations — looking at characteristic mannerisms, nuances & archetypal facets of urban surroundings, people, design and culture. Most of my work starts with putting pencil to paper. The same approach makes its way into what we do at Bombay Duck Designs. We have a hands-on work ethic in the studio with any kind of project we take up. We maintain a fine balance between commercial and self-initiated projects and we are not limited to any particular medium.

KS: What are some of the challenges you have found being an Independent studio in India?

Sameer: Being a small art/design studio, managing time and resources becomes challenging. We have a very compact work-schedule and if any project goes beyond the "intended time" due to whatever reasons, it starts affecting the cycle. Personally, I do not like labels. People tend to slot/label you as an "illustrator" or "graphic designer" and so on depending on the output of your work — I find that very limiting. The point of being independent is to have the flexibility of doing what you want, the way you want it and keeping stagnancy away from your work.


Inside Bombay Duck Designs' Studio with Zeenat and Sameer

KS: Which is your favourite project in the last year and why?

Sameer: "Please have a seat" (my first solo exhibit earlier this year at Artisans' Centre in Bombay) was a great learning experience - emotionally and otherwise. The prints on display were of some of the most personal drawings I had made over the last 3-4 years and it felt good to put it out there. I think the exhibit made me a bolder person.

KS: Tell us more about the 'BLUED book'.

Sameer: I started self-publishing back in 2009 as an experiment to put out my own ideas and observations — this was a time when there were barely any outlets to sell such books. We now have 6 self-published books in our catalog. One of them is "BLUED book" which won us the Black Elephant at Kyoorius design awards in 2014. All my books have started with an observation and a feeling that I could translate that observation into something tangible and collectible — same with BLUED book. I started noting down instances where I saw the blue tarp being used. Then I got down to drawing them out in a limited colour palette and after the first 3-4 drawings I was sure about making the book. After that the long process of making the print files, book design, choosing paper, making dummies, making more dummies, fine-tuning, and then going into print eventually. Self-publishing requires a lot of self-motivation, time and effort and I am happy that now there are platforms like Kulture Shop who promote original work by artists.


Blued Book by Bombay Duck Designs

KS: Any future products we can look forward to get out?

Sameer: Nothing planned as of now!


Publications by BDD: Top - Kala Ghoda Musings | Bottom Left: The Ghoda Cycle Project | Bottom Right: Zeroxwalah Zine

Fun Stuff about Bombay Duck Designs
  • Song that represents the Studio's vibe: Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.
  • Quirky items the Studio collects: Me and Zee collect a number of things, we are hoarders. I pick up vintage books and art prints, interesting stationery (particularly scissors) from all over the world. Zee collects local packaging, metal trunks, vintage metal packaging badges and other ephemera.
  • Favourite hangout near work: There is a quaint little Portuguese style village behind the studio called Matharpacady Village — best for a walk, chai and snacks at the amazing 'Bhamarsingh Umedsingh Mithaiwala' next to the village. Also, a bakery called 'Super Bakery' near the studio.


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*All images courtesy Bombay Duck Designs.