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Santanu Hazarika: ‘Doodled On Whatever I Got My Hands On’

Art is one of the best ways to communicate and express oneself. As a kid, you might remember drawing or scribbling at the back of your notebooks filled with lines and dots in a funky manner. That’s nothing but doodling, a unique art form covering the depths of a subject in a much detailed way. 

While most people viewed doodling as one form of stupid child’s play or a waste of time, the same doodling helped great thinkers like Steve Jobs, Henry Ford, and Albert Einstein build the unthinkable. Now the only difference is perspective. Well, today, this underrated art form, doodling, has opened the doors to many creative people across the world and Santanu Kaushik Hazarika is one of them, who’s now the popular illustrator and doodle artist.

Grew up in the small city of Guwahati in Assam, he comes from a humble family of four (mother, father, brother), including himself. Speaking to Yeh Hai India, Santanu Hazarika shared his successful doodling journey and his experience with art to date.  

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Engineering Seem Like An Alien Language

During his school days, back in 4th or 5th class, Santanu used to draw, but he never took art seriously until engineering happened. He says, “I used to draw a lot of comic book characters and used to sell them for canteen money and extra pocket money for buying chocolates and other stuff. But I never took art or drawing as a serious thing.” 

But it was again in his engineering days where he started doodling during his class, sitting in the backbench.

I didn’t understand what was being taught and I was not cut-out for engineering and seemed like an alien language to me. So, I used to sketch on the back pages of my notebook during my class hours. Funny thing, my teachers loved what I did during my classes and they would let me draw and would never interfere”, he added. What’s even witty was he used to draw on the question paper and answer sheets during the exams. “I didn’t know a single answer, all I did was draw on the sheets.”, he quips. 

Turning Point

Knowing that this was not what he wanted to do, Santanu dropped out of his engineering in the mid-way to pursue a career in art and design. “I think the turning point came during my engineering when I was failing at it miserably and so during my third year of college somebody tagged me on a post by Red Bull saying that they were accepting the Red Bull World Doodle Art Championship.”

So that’s when he took part in the competition and got qualified in the national and international rounds out of 32,551 participants who participated in the event from all over the world. After winning the whole competition, he became the world champion and won the first ever-international Red Bull Doodle Art Championship at the event’s Global Gallery in Cape Town, South Africa.

That moment gave me a strong conviction that I would do good in this line of work and also made my parents know that I would be better as an artist than a failed engineer”, asserts Santanu.

In a short time, he got his first official contract with Red Bull International to design their limited edition T-Shirts and haven’t looked back since then. Some of the brands he worked with include Red Bull International, Adidas, Reebok, etc. He particularly said that “more than brands, I worked with a lot of people and musicians.

Doodled On Whatever I Got My Hands-On

I’m a visual artist. So, I don’t keep it myself limited to one form of art.

Starting from illustrations to paintings to doodles to graphic design, Santanu does all forms and styles of art. Now he is getting into fashion designing as well. The formal training that Santanu got was drawing in his sketchbook with a pen. He says that doodling is very simple if you know how to draw, design, compose or frame the artwork. 

It’s just a matter of time when you start doodling on other stuff. So, I used to get a marker and start drawing on whatever plane surface I find. I drew on microphones, on my friend’s bags, guitars, guitar bags. Whatever I got my hands on, I would simply draw them out. I learned that way”, he avers.

Santanu also shared the idea of how he got into doodling for sneakers. Ever since he was a kid, he loved sneakers but his father never allowed him to buy the expensive stuff. However, later, as he grew up, he found his way to the top. “As I grew, I had more money and I could afford to buy. So, I got all the pairs I like”, he smiles. “Why not just combine doodling and sneakers and that’s how I got into sketching and doodling on sneakers”, he shares.

When asked what inspired him to be an artist, he swiftly replied:

I loved music but unfortunately I couldn’t sing or compose or play any instrument so the only thing for me was to draw the album art because I could draw. So that was my key inspiration were the album artworks of all the artists that I used to listen to when I was young.

Other than that, comic books were also his major inspiration, where he loved recreating the comic characters from those books in his way. 

Santanu is so passionate about art that he just loves the intricacy of the detail stuff. Moreover, most of the artists he follows are somewhat in a similar line.

I love to draw and work is my biggest motivation. I don’t think anyone taught me to sign up for art. I have a natural inclination towards it, I loved it and I just did what I love. It is very interesting and intriguing to see what I can do with the level of imagination I have”, says the popular artist. 

Campaigns And Challenges

Santanu has been a part of a few campaigns and exhibitions as well to raise money for a social cause. One of the projects that Santanu took part in was The Plated Project, where he tied up with them to make a few collectible art plates. All the proceeds that he got from the sale of those art plates went to some of the orphanages and NGOs to use that money for feeding children in India. 

It was a beautiful cause and I’m happy to say even now”, he recalls the moment with a smile. The other campaign project that he took part in was the river clean-up in Assam, where he hosted workshops, taught kids how to paint and draw, and raised money out of it, which was used for cleaning around the banks of the river Brahmaputra. 

However, despite the fascinating journey with art, he has faced several challenges as an artist. As we know art isn’t a go-to thing where you can attend some classes and wake up the next day spilling colors on the canvas. It’s always beyond those colors and wide canvas.

The biggest challenge in the journey would be evolving. Well, I’m blessed in a way that I came across my style way early. It didn’t take much time for me to discover my true style of work. I think as an artist, discovering your style, evolving yourself constantly, and getting better at what you do and staying relevant at the same time is the biggest challenge as an artist in my journey”, shares Santanu. 

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Memorable Moments

Amid tough times, there are some memorable moments in Santanu’s journey as well, where he quotes,

I think the most beautiful thing about this journey would be the people that I have met through my art and the people who have genuinely appreciated my work and have accepted my work and that’s the best part of my whole journey.

He went on to say, “Every time I make an art piece, I display something that itself is a memorable moment. And to be honest, my turning point itself is the biggest memorable moment when I won the world championship. I think that was the leap of faith which I took and because of which I’m where I’m right now.” 

Down the line, a few interesting projects are coming up, where he is doing his first solo exhibition in Bombay in a few months. He is also tying up with many interesting brands, designing a very unique clothing line, and also working with a few big musicians.

And I’m looking forward to it”, he concludes.

Yeh Hai India wishes Santanu the very best in his endeavours!!

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Written by Krishna Prasad

Writer, Researcher, & Freelance Journalist.

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