Textural and experimental, the India-born artist draws inspiration from the world around him – such as games, movies, nature and fantastical art. In turn, he produces endless 3D possibilities devised from a spontaneous and trial-and-error process.
Kushagra Gupta views 3D art as an endless canvas. Free of restrains and boundaries, the India-born creative can explore limitless possibilities in shape, colour and texture. His subject matter tends to be derived from the more abstract – the weird and uncanny – as he draws elements inspired by nature, mythology and fantastical art.
It's also a medium that he fell into pretty easily, considering he grew up around online games and nurtured a healthy obsession with digital art. Below, we chat with Kushagra to learn more about his influences and why being able to "deconstruct and reconstruct virtually anything" gives him a sense of optimism.
It would be great to begin by hearing a bit about yourself!
I was born in Kolkata, India. Since the pandemic, I've been working from my home here, but I was working in Mumbai before that. I have a bachelor's degree in communication design, and right after graduating in 2020, I started my career as a freelance graphic designer and artist. During this time, I began exploring different digital media to create art, and I gravitated towards 3D. Exploring and experimenting regularly allowed me to learn and hone my practice, and establishing a virtual presence on the internet helped me find my niche.
What drew you towards art and design over other creative media?
I was always creatively inclined and, even in high school, I was certain that I wanted to work in a creative field. So, as a student who loved creating and enjoyed studying, design – especially visual communication – was very attractive. I've been an extremely online person even as a teenager, so I think I developed an infatuation with digital art at a young age. Even when I was 13, I was engaged in creating fan art and graphic design in forums and groups of online games. I even had my own 'shop' where I created illustrations, avatars and signatures for people, and they'd pay me in the virtual currency of the games. I think having a set of creative parents definitely helped me develop a love for art and design.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I feel like I can find inspiration in everything and anything. That being said, I adore mythological and fantastical art. In the same vein, I'm always excited to see concept art for games or movies. I am also deeply inspired by fashion design – I love that play of silhouettes, colours and textures and try to bring that into my own artworks. Above all, nature has to be the biggest, most reliable source of inspiration and joy. From the textural surfaces of other planets down to the weird creatures of Palaeozoic times, I think that sort of effortless beauty that's so easily found in nature is the biggest motivation for me to feel stimulated and to create.
Many people tell me that they feel comforted or satisfied when they see my art, and that really cheers me up because I get to share that kind of pleasure with others.
What themes do you tend to address in your work and why?
My art tends to be more abstract, so it's all about observing the interaction between shapes, colours and textures. Many of these elements in my art allude to forms and textures found in the real world, especially shapes and forms found in nature. My digital sculptures often explore a tension between organic and synthetic elements – for example, through biology-inspired shapes and industrial, man-made textures. I love how this digital 3D canvas allows me to deconstruct and reconstruct virtually anything – and it's this feeling of limitlessness and abundance that makes me feel very optimistic about art in general.
How do you go about making your pieces?
For my personal pieces, the creative process is very relaxed and is often guided by trial-and-error and spontaneity. Most of the time, I'm just distorting shapes and textures – breaking things apart, blowing them up, stretching them out and pulverising them. It doesn't necessarily end up as something 'pretty', but I don't mind because the process is very pleasurable to me. I like taking 3D objects that I've created before and manipulating them into something new, adding newer layers of meaning or emotion. On the technical side of things, I like to have the foundations of my scene, including the lighting and backdrop set up already so I can just get into that 'flow state' of creativity quickly. When it comes to commercial projects, I like to define the vision and concept beforehand, as it just makes things easier for me and my clients. After discussing the brief, I work on some concept pitches that include draft sketches and references. It helps me create an outline of the artwork before I start 3D modelling it; I think it prevents the project from getting overwhelming later.
Can you pick out a couple of recent favourite pieces and talk through them?
It's hard to choose, but I'm fond of the piece titled Runner. It's an iteration of an older artwork, and what I love about it is that it's so simple, yet it's loaded with a kind of cheerfulness. I like the contrast between the silhouette being iconically 'cute' but the colour and texture being this understated polished material. I definitely enjoyed creating it, and I feel happy whenever I see it.
Apart from that, I am also very pleased with the artwork I created for Machinedrum's new EP Psyconia. The word Psyconia is a portmanteau of Psychic and Syconia, which refers to a kind of fruit, such as the fig. I was given a brief to create something inspired by the shape or texture of a fig, something that would symbolise enlightenment and abundance. The artwork features an ethereal instrument, and its form is inspired by the fig fruit. What makes it a favourite is that it refers to the kind of 'items' or tools that you'd find in a fantastical video game – so to me, it feels like something I'd want to obtain!
How do you hope your audience will respond to your work?
I just want people to feel happier or calmer, or even just intrigued. I want them to feel a way that is inexplicable in words. Many people tell me that they feel comforted or satisfied when they see my art, and that really cheers me up because I get to share that kind of pleasure with others.
What's next for you?
I'm looking forward to moving to Mumbai when the pandemic eases up here! Apart from that, I've got a bunch of interesting projects in the works. I'm excited to be working on my first vinyl artwork for an Australian label. I'm also working on creating some of my own prints – on paper as well as garments, so I'm looking forward to that!