interview with masala chai (india) 2008
1. Have you ever been to India or seen the process in action i.e. the producers screen printing the t-shirts etc. , what was it like? how do you feel about the impact your designs have on their lives?
I have actually been to India three times now, I love India! Unfortunately I never made it to meet the actual artisans yet, the first two times i was there i was just backpacking around and i hadnt started working with People Tree then. And the last time it was a bit of a rush. Ive been around a fair bit of the country, i think ive spent about 4 months there all in all.
I have met many of the people who have set up the workshops when they come to London and they have a lot of stories about their projects, they are doing really great work there. It makes all the difference to think you are doing work for projects and companies you really agree with…
The last time i went to india was three months ago, i taught a 3 week course in illustration at Srishti college in Bangalore. I was really impressed with the college, they’ve a very forward thinking approach. The teaching staff were all really passionate and very good at what they do, it was very inspiring.
2. Do you take any design influences from Indian culture? If so, what are they?
I really love Indian folk art, Madhubani and Warli paintings and also a lot of the textiles. When I was in 3rd year in college I went backpacking around India for the summer and when I came back I went through a phase of being really crazy about Indian folk art. I bought a lot of books on Indian painting and textiles, it was very fresh and inspiring for me to see that then. I spend quite a bit of time in the British Museum and the V&A in London (when i feel burnt out) they have some really nice work … although ive been visiting the african and pacific island section more often than the indian one recently… they have some amazing stuff in there.
3. Who are your favourite artists/illustrators/designers ?
I like a lot of folk art mainly and get a lot of inspiration from visiting museums in London. David Shrigley’s work is always outstanding, also I really like Sara Ogilvie, Neal Layton and Tom Gauld. Michel Gondry and Traktor have done some great short films and videos. I worked for a year at a very good London animation studio a few years ago and was very lucky to meet some really inspiring animators in there, Grant Orchard, Ben Bocquelet and Steve Small are all doing really amazing work.
4. Do you really , honestly love vegetable fried rice?
Not really actually… ive gone right off it! I was living in Hong Kong when i set up the site. I was living in a youth hostel and i had no money at all (and im vegetarian) so it was a running joke that the only thing i cooked or was seen to eat was vegetable fried rice. I used to boil a huge pot of rice and freeze so it would last for the week.