Rajendra Ramkallawan is an illustrator, sequential artist, storyboard artist and aspiring film/animation director. With a soon to be released graphic novel – “The Great Sun”.
He took some time away from his drawing board to share with us.
1. How do you define creativity and what does it mean to you?
Creativity means a lot of different things to a lot of different people so I won't try to define it. But if I had to describe what it means to me, I would say creativity is an idea that is fueled by my passion and is brought to life for the world to see through hard work and dedication.
2. How much of your creative ability do you think is innate? Or is your creativity a skill that you have developed?
I would say 10% of my creative ability is innate and 90% is a skill developed.
3. When did you realize that you wanted to express your creativity? Was it encouraged by others (e.g., parents)?
Well I've been drawing ever since I could remember, and my parents never said 'stop drawing' so I kept doing it. So you could say I’ve been expressing my creativity since I could remember. I never really took my drawing skills seriously until I was in secondary school and realized I wanted to pursue a career in art.
At that point I still didn't know exactly what I wanted to do in the arts. During my time at the University of the West Indies I fell in love with telling stories and I realized that I can do that with my drawing skills.
4. What is your standard for evaluating your own creative work and the works of other people? Do you think that monetary rewards can be compatible with creativity in general? Are monetary rewards relevant to your own work?
I judge my work based on international standards because that’s the only standard you should aim for. I'm always harsh on myself, but when I create something that I really like I pat myself on the back. I never get complacent because there is always room to improve.
I'm not sure if monetary rewards are relevant to my work because regardless if people give me a reward or not I will continue doing what I love to do.
5. Do you think your own perception and evaluation of your creative endeavors are influenced by the views of other people? What role do you think the culture that you live in plays in your creative efforts?
Yes I do. Pretty much all the artists I look up to influence the perception and evaluation of my work.
I would say the culture I live in plays a very big role and a very small role in my creative efforts - if that makes any sense. The creative individual I am today is because of all the experiences I have had throughout my life growing up in this culture but the strange thing is that I’m not the biggest fan of my culture.
6. What do you do when you experience a creative block?
I go and spend time with my family and forget all about it.
7. How do you make the leap from a "Spark" in your head to the action you produce?
I just start sketching and I let the idea develop on paper because whatever I have in my head is never the end result.
8. Do you have any special rituals that you do in order to achieve your creative goals?
I don't think so. I get up, brush my teeth, and go straight to my desk to start working without even eating. I'm not sure if that is a ritual.
9. Has your creativity changed stylistically as you have matured? If it has changed, please explain how.
I’m not sure if my creativity has changed stylistically but my creative interests seem to be widening. Earlier in my life all I wanted to do was draw but now I have acquired interest in animation, film, writing, and design.
10. What has been the greatest sacrifice that you have made for your craft?
Spending time with my family and friends. Creating can get very lonely.
11. Who or what has helped you to persevere and not quit?
I have a strong will to fight for my dreams. Sometimes those dreams change, but my will never does.
12. Do you believe that it is important to be accepted by others as being creative or is just doing what you love to do enough to justify your work? Explain.
To an extent. I think your work is not finished unless it's seen by the world and we all want recognition (everyone wants fans) for our work. But the fact is that you can't please everyone on the planet. I think you develop an audience and you create for that audience. Hopefully that audience is a lot of people.
13. Has rejection ever affected your creative process? Explain.
Yes. In a positive way. Rejection is one of the biggest aides in developing as an artist, more so than acceptance. You learn more from failure than from success.
14. Looking at what you have created in the past, would you change anything today? Why or why not?
No I wouldn't. Everything I did in the past contributed to what I produce now and what I will create in the future.
15. Have you ever doubted your talent? If so, how did you work through your doubt?
Yes I did. The people I look up to also went through the same doubt I went through but they kept going, and if they can do it, so can I. Everyone goes through that doubting phase - but it's just a phase - and you can't let that consume you.
I always look for inspiration from my idols when I feel self-doubt.
16. What piece of work are you most proud of? Why?
My most recent project. A graphic novel called "The Great Sun", because I wrote, illustrated, colored and designed it on my own in 4 months and I think it's great.
17. Have you helped or mentored anyone else? Is there someone that you see (name drop) that you would like to Mentor?
I'm still really young so I don't think I should be monitoring anyone. I would love if someone I looked up to mentored me.
18. To a young Creative emerging in your field, what advice would you impart unto them?
You'll need to make a lot of sacrifices on your journey towards your goals, but never give up. Work hard, practice a lot, draw everyday, draw everywhere. If you can draw in your sleep do that too. And always keep fighting for your dreams.
19. What would you most like to be remembered for?
For the amazing stories I tell through all the mediums that I love, film, animation, sequential art etc.
20. If you were a crayon, what would be the name of your colour?
Rajendra’s work can be seen at his upcoming exhibition at the Department of Creative and Festival Arts, UWI, Gordon Street, St Augustine, Trinidad from May 4th 2014 through to May 10th 2014. We look forward to the availability of “The Great Sun” on amazon and blurb.com. We’ll keep you updated.
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