Nimit Malavia Interview

In conjunction with our current exhibit, “Lore”, we sat down recently with participating artist Nimit Malavia to discuss his process, inspirations and his new works. Get to know more about Nimit in our exclusive interview below!

“Lore” will be on view until August 23rd, you can view the exhibition online here.

When did you begin to realize that you were onto something unique with your art?

That’s hard to say, for the most part, a lot of the work I make, and the images that stick in my mind are very much in reaction to my experiences. Be it consciously or unconsciously the push and pull of things around me really heavily dictated what I made, and it kind of went off in all different directions, chasing those influences. I think nearing the end of college was when I started to paint personal pieces on the side of assignments, and found a little more confidence in showing my internalizations of those pulls.

Can you tease a little about the work you have for the upcoming group show?

Dreams become reality.

This last year proved to be pretty turbulent, with changes coming in a lot of different forms. Relationships coming and going, losses both personal and financial. Questions of ego and value, desire and discipline. Years ago I would have gladly escaped into the fantasies that I would create, trying to find elation in the dream, or exorcising demons where I could. With these pieces I tried to bring it back a bit, drawing parallels to the myths, in particular stories of the lotus eaters and tying them in with more opaquely personal imagery.

How do you get yourself ready to work on an illustration? Is there any music, food, or drawing exercises you do to get into the zone?

The beginnings of an illustration are an exciting time for me, so I don’t need much conditioning to get going. It’s the time where the most thinking is involved so I try to keep my environment quiet and free of any music or dictated narratives, like podcasts or audiobooks, often just the ambient noise of the street, so that I’m able to let my mind work undistracted. On work where there is a little bit of time, I’ll sometimes try to take in media like films, albums, prose, or just engage in conversation or even make a small mood board of images or writings that help me ground the image thematically…it helps me as a kind of way finder in case I get lost in the process.

That said, being mildly caffeinated can be the sweetest gift.

Can you talk about the tools you use when you work on illustrations? Do you have a favorite?

Anything that’s available to me, really. I’m a bit of a slave to the image and it’s needs, it sounds hyperbolic, but when I have a strong vision of what I want a piece to be, and how it should feel, I’ll bring out all the tools I feel necessary. In some cases it’s as simple as a graphite drawing and a digital colour, in others, I’ll draw and paint the image in graphite, acrylic to a near finished level, only to find that’ll I go over some areas in watercolour for texture, or rework entire areas digitally to build the values and finish desired (within reason..and sometimes not).

What around you influences the work you make? Where do the themes and imagery come from?

A lot of the imagery, I find, I source from dreams or parts of my memory that have that kind of dream like quality. That time between waking and sleep is really powerful for me… a lot of connections and strange, sometimes grand and melancholic sentiments stir from there.
But that’s intellectualizing it a bit, I still feel most comfortable, and find the most fuel in emotions. Be it the fury, or the stillness. But other times, still, it’s more about following the marks of the hand, rather than trying to chase an image in mind.

How are the Fables covers going? Are you enjoying working on them?

Working on the covers has been extraordinary. I have a natural inclination towards wanting to change, and experiment with my working method, which is often pretty contrary to the needs of most commercial projects. In this case though, it was more or less in the job description. Very open to my tastes and inclinations, it sounds harsh, but in a lot of cases with more commercial work, I find the art almost comes second, but it never really feels like that with Vertigo. There’s a lot of trust and respect for the artwork and the artists, which is really rewarding. Looking forward to bringing it to a close.

What kind of challenges have you overcome artistically?

Lately I’ve been trying to find the freedom of drawing and imagination that I had when I was a little more inexperienced. Something about the naiveté of not knowing was really liberating and had me feeling confident and ambitious about leaping into all directions. Where as now, with a more trained hand and eye, it’s much easier to dismiss “right and wrong” marks or obsess over form and the all other tedium.

How do you know a piece you are working on is finished?

I’m a bit obsessive, so I have a hard time finding that simply. I think usually when there’s a level of resolve in the drawing, or rendering where you can recognize all the technical articulations have been met… but for me, even after that point, sometimes I’ll refer back to my thumbnails sketches, which are usually no more than chicken scratches, and see if it still has the same energy. At this point, sometimes I’ll go as far as to restart even then to try and nail down that quality.

Where do you see your work heading in the future? Do you have any specific projects you’ve been wanting to do?

Scale and motion are really appealing to me. I’d love to be able to work on projects and pieces of much larger scope (both literal and figurative), be it further forays into film and mural work. I’m currently working on an experimental animation, which has always been a huge interest for me…. There are certain goals I have, but mostly just continue to develop the work I’m producing and other narratives, either for myself or find a way to connect it commercially as well.

Interview conducted by Becca Knight.

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