It's not uncommon to hear of an artist's practice beginning in childhood – unknowingly or intentionally. Raised between Kolkata and Durgapur by his mother, Revant Dasgupta would spend hours and hours drawing in his own time.
"I was raised without a television, so I have been drawing for as long as I can remember and read many books and comics growing up," he tells Creative Boom. The pen and paper were Revant's own devise – a creative tool he's used since age four. "My mother is from a film background, so we used to go to the movies every weekend to watch whatever was running in the theatres at the time," he shares, "and I remember getting back home and drawing things I saw in the movies, making up my own plot points and scenarios."
You can certainly pick up on these cinematic influences throughout Revant's portfolio. From the illustrated scenes to dynamic character development and music flyers to more graphic-based projects, each of his sketchy and colourful works has the ability to tell a story. For instance, there's a project he's been working on since 2021 called Humans of Kolkata. The project – printed in zine form with a limited run of 16 pages – encompasses illustrations, comics, graffiti, zines and NFTs, all of which are inspired by the experience of sofa surfing in Kolkata for two years, "living with people and talking to them," he says. "Humans of Kolkata explores the city, its youth and culture."
Within this body of work, the city of Kolkata is represented through an honest lens as the illustrator highlights the reality of growing up in a place "once known for its booming cultural movements and its forward-thinking nature," he explains. "But now it's stuck in a state of limbo." What Revant is referring to is the large amount of unemployment across the vicinity. "Its creative prowess and history have now been reduced to nostalgia and stagnancy… causing it to be forgotten." Through Humans of Kolkata, Revant has given the city a voice of its own and will forever be remembered through the pages of his drawings.
One of Revant's favourites in the zine is a piece depicting a giant yellow character called িবমল – pronounced Bimol (bee-maul) – drawn with bulging eyes and a big smile. "I love seeing people's reactions to him," he says. "I think the character represents an idea more than a person, and how one interacts with the character represents how they interact with that specific idea. I remember drawing him one evening and just unable to get his face out of my head."
There are many more positive works like this, including a piece celebrating World Bicycle Day. This one is of a different vibe to Humans of Kolkata but executed in characteristic Revant style, both personal and commemorative. "It's named after a quote from a friend's wall In Kolkata – a house I stayed in for the majority of 2021 and 2022 with a friend who is currently doing his PhD on the History of Kolkata and West Bengal. Many of our conversations, experiences, introspection and anxieties about growing up and leaving things behind inspired this artwork. It's definitely a special one for me."