A couple of years ago, DK Bollygirl [HighChai Recordings] sent me a link to checkout some very cool artwork by ‘Kunal @ Cabein’.
Kunal is a multi discipline designer working across various mediums with a distinctive and recognizable style. Working on print, digital, web, illustration, corporate identities and even sculpture, his bursting portfolio proves that he hasn’t been lacking inspiration. With a steady flow of design jobs, many curious press/media folks knocking on his door and a countless variety of side projects including t-shirt, prints, product experiments, collages and sketchbooks.
NADA BRAHMA chats exclusively with him after spending 11 years in London and now based out of bustling Mumbai.
Kunal grew up in Zimbabwe and mainly produced fine art while also exploring digital applications such as the mind blowing possibilities of Coral Draw 4 at the time. In 2000 it was time for a change and the grey skies of London beckoned him near. Instantly upon arrival he could be found dazed by the magazine racks in the local corner-shop.
He found himself quietly tripping on the overload of visuals from new found magazines such as The Face, Wallpaper, Creative Review, Computer Arts, SFX and FHM. Soon Kunal was engrossed by typography, grids, photography and printmaking at the London College of Communication. After graduating He worked with a variety of leading studios and agencies across the UK. As well as a short stint working in Mumbai with MTV India and design studio Grandmother in 2004-5.
Freshly stimulated from his travels to India, his work took a sharp turn toward an allusion dark edge. This style suited the electronica music scene in London, so through his designer alias ‘Cabein’ he crafted flyers, logos, artwork and websites for many artists. Working in both spheres of the commercial world and the underground ‘Cabein’ connected with The Coors, PJ Harvey & The Cure to the flip side, Bobby Friction, Deep Medi and Shiva Soundsystem.
Some of his iconic early work featured Amitabh Bachchan spinning on the 1s and 2s. Which was developed into a limited edition t-shirt with custom die-cut frosted packaging and silkscreen detail. Mahatmas Revenge is another piece which typifies the culture clash of Britain and India that influenced his early work. Kunal’s work drips juxtaposition and irony, using unexpected, unconventional images lovely crafted by all means.
|THE QUEEN ||V.I.V.E.K EP |
|MUMBAI CELLS |
More recent pieces include the epic monolith, The Reaper and The Boy, an experiment into DIY sculpture.
|THE BOY ||THE REAPER |
I caught up with Kunal after working and living out of Mumbai for the last year soaking up new inspiration, influences and creative expression.
BEAST WITHIN 
NB: What is Cabein?
KA: ‘Cabein‘ came about in 2000, The word doesn’t actually exist until then which made it ideal for the word to grow organically as the style of artwork evolved over time.
NB: What attracted you to India?
KA: I think a slice of India is in my DNA and influences much of my work. So it made sense to experience India first hand during this time when there is such huge technological, economical and social change in the country.
NB: What made you design for the music scene?
KA: Since art college I was exposed to an array of music, such as The Velvet Underground, Bowie, Joy Division, The Pixies, Bjork… Music has always been a huge influence, I cant play a note but I like to let my imagination run wild when hearing something that resonates.
NB: Is there a piece you are particularly proud of?
KA: For a while it has been The Boy. The project started quite unexpectedly and quickly grew in complexity. Through failings, frustration, reconstructing, testing, learning. it was a organic processes of discovery. Do it yourself with kitchen utensils to ultimately turn an illustration into a 3D object made by hand at home.
NB: What are you working on at the moment?
KA: Always working on a range of commercial and non commercial projects. Illustration and animation collaborations with renowned contemporary Mumbai based artist Tejal Shah 250 page book design for Grandmother, exploring the Ganpati Festival through design analysis and documentation.
Chapter 2 of 69 – a graphic novel series based in Bandra, Mumbai in 2000 with different artists illustrating each chapter, followed by an exhibition at: http://issuu.com/karthikeyanramachandran/docs/69_chapter1.
And illustration and branding for an up and coming LA based yoga brand. And adding the finishing highlights to Beast Within. An ode to Bombay which was originally drawn in the first weeks I arrived.
NB: What can we expect from Cabein in the future?
KA: Immediate future, high quality Cabein prints and products inspired by Bombay and and exhibition later in 2012. The Boy sculpture reproduced with each piece custom detailed. Currently going through the fabrication processes, will let you know when it drops. Plus more collaboration and adventures in new materials with a softer edge.
NB: Is there any advice you can give to budding graphics designers out there?
KA: I would have to borrow this one. Process is more important than outcome. Try not to spend too much time solely creating or researching in front of the computer. Keep a sketchbook, it is surprising how often something out of an old sketchbook can filter into other projects. A sketchbook can really push you to create something totally unexpected. Explore and experiment with different techniques and mediums to find what works for your style as this will make your work distinctively original. Also here are a selection of great design lectures: http://www.creativelectures.