Nowadays, there’s no escaping advertising. It’s on billboards, TV, social media and even on buses. It has become so ubiquitous that we try to ignore it; we skip the ads on YouTube, block them on our browser and flip the channel when we see them on TV. And while it’s just business and a profit generating industry, advertising is still its own art form.
This is why beautifully executed ads have an impact on the general public. Which is why sometimes, some ads— the ones that are really stunning, truly affect us just They affect us just like a stunning work of art would, proving that we still need artists behind the steering wheel of the advertising bus.
When you’re born into a family that appreciates and practices art, it’s inevitable that you, in turn, would become an artist. We talked to Maheendran, better known as Mahi, who is a local Creative Director who grew up watching his father and his older brother working using their imagination and creating art. As a young child he doodled, drew, painted, and had no doubt in his mind that studying Fine Art was what he wanted to do.
Upon graduating, he landed his first job in the advertising field as a junior visualizer. He crafted advertising and branding campaigns for some of the best known local and global brands in Asia and the Middle East for print, video and digital platforms. The visuals are a tool, a method of communication and at the end of the day, still art.
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This was almost two decades ago, when things were still done the hard way. There is a large portion of art that is mental, but it used to involve a lot of manual work. Today, everything is computerized and digitized; you can shoot an entire video commercial on a smart phone in a matter of hours, edit it, and have it ready for sharing with the public.
For artists, it’s hard to cross the line from independent art and into the business of advertising. This is what some hard-core starving artists call selling out. Maheendran disagrees; art is art, and it is at its essence, “making things better.” He thinks that people usually think of classical paintings when they think of art. That can sometimes be a barrier.
According to him, everything is art. If you want to paint, which he loves doing, you need to find a space, take out your colors, mix paint, etc, before you even get started.
But you can also be in a meeting, and with your pen and a piece of paper start doodling. It is still art. It is also a more intimate, private and perhaps raw form of art. It can be less intentional but more personal. He likened it to walking into a forest you’ve never been in before, you don’t know where you are going but you are sure that it will be beautiful.
His unconstrained take on art has given him more freedom to create more work. Maheendran has been recently doing more illustrations and going back to his roots as an artist, not just as a professional in the business.
This outlook makes advertising more accessible to all of us. When Maheendran first came to Kuwait he wanted to meet more artists and join the local scene and community. That never happened at the time. Things have changed, and the art scene is very vibrant today. Studios, galleries and even art supply stores have multiplied in number.
He is excited about the increase in artists. As a father of two young children, he appreciates the ability to have a studio outside of the home. As a parent he also thinks you can’t teach art to young children. Instead, they should be given the tools and left to explore on their own so they can define their own way. And that applies to adults too, just pick up a pen and start doodling.