The following is an amended transcription of the conversation with Archan Nair from the Write Way Artist Spotlight on March 4th. Read below and discover some of the passions that drive Archan and his work.
Yet it unlocked a discovery that for me, creating is meditation.
Anaroth: Prior to our conversation today I found myself doing some research on dualism and philosophy based on some of the inspiration you mention on your website. You seem to have a unique awareness to disconnecting.
Archan Nair: I listen to a lot of people who completely disconnect, they just completely avoid going into a certain area, say avoid social media. But I think we all have different ways of disconnecting. For me, I think it’s really important to be aware of every moment. I believe that the more aware we are about how we perceive life, our thoughts, our emotions, lends to a sense of balance. I think it’s more important to seek out things inside of yourself rather than focusing on disconnecting outside. I see disconnecting outside as a temporary fix, but when you seek the answer within yourself, when you focus on the thoughts feelings and emotions of the moment the external no longer has the same impact on you. I think it is so beautiful how we all have such interesting and different ways of disconnecting.
Anaroth: I’ve heard you mention the idea of ritual a few times when we talk and I wanted to expand on the importance of making time for something in your life each day that gives energy back to you. Can you share a little bit more on rituals and what they mean to you?
Archan Nair: When you’re working on your craft I feel it’s very important that you create a disciplined lifestyle, a disciplined focused practice. I see it as a crucial practice for an artist or creative person to delve deeper into their craft. By that I don’t mean that you have to have a rigid practice or strict structure to your day, no you can be flexible. But are you aware of the things that are taking you away from your priority of art? Do you have time in your day where that is truly and always the focus? For me, I have started waking up early in the morning 4:00 or 4:30 and just sketching for an hour and a half or so. No devices, no distractions, just the morning and my thoughts. Then after I start diving into catching up on things, and focusing on my artwork or paintings. I’ve been doing this for the past 12 or 13 years now, and it’s amazing the kind of flow states you can get into. It really taps you in, creates tremendous amount of mental focus and clarity. This is the reason I call it a ritual, because it’s very sacred. It’s not something which is an outdoor activity, it’s an inner activity, it’s the way I connect with the divine, source, god, consciousness, whatever you want to term it as. Almost like a dance, you’re completely zoned out, but the same time you’re completely tapped in. It is a process of learning, a process of discovering yourself, and the reality you are a part of. A process where you’re just unfolding and learning and going deeper towards discovery.
**Anaroth: **One of the things that I feel is different about NFT Twitter is how encouraging the community is. Giving people a feeling that they are capable of more than they thought. Can you share some views on community and its role in the space?
Archan Nair: I think community building part is such an integral element of creative exploration. I feel community building and being part of communities is like energy or fuel for people who are really creative. It motivates them to be able to explore more, and connect with like minded people. To be inspired and inspire others. One of the most curious things about the human species is our ability to learn, and to go deeper. When you find your tribe, your community, you have a platform to share and showcase where people you have not even met will motivate you and push you toward greater heights. Even today I feel like that is such an integral part, I would not be here doing what I am doing now if it was not for the community.
It’s amazing how the universe has designed our civilization to be so cross connected. If you look at how the Internet is, or how the blockchain is, they’re all part of a network. Then you can see that we’re all nodes of that network and how we’re all connected. While we may not be able to see it, we can feel it with our energy, our spirit, our activities. I think that is what communities are about, single nodes, then becoming these clusters of nodes which basically are communities.
Anaroth: Everyone talks about community and I want to dive deeper into the feelings behind it. When you find people that you may or may not even know and they’re encouraging you to be a better you everyday. That’s a really positive form of attention. What a lot of these early groups of people often have in common is this hyper focused point of origin that everyone can rally around. When you have that, all of those things that would normally be a barrier for you to connect with someone, they aren’t there.
Archan Nair: I think about that positive attention and think of young artists or even artists that have been creating for a long time. Some go through a lot of self doubt in terms of their craft. A lot of ups and downs and comparing themselves to others or their work. But when you have a community, when we are not so isolated, when we know we can talk to people and be around people. It gives us a lot of clarity and it can break all these shackles off you. Things like division, self doubt, judging ourselves, and all these different labels which we identify with. Of course you need a lot of like internal introspection and contemplation as well, it can’t be just getting the outside information. You need to take time to process it internally as well.
Something you were talking about right now is just so beautiful. When you are part of these communities they can really breakdown all these notions or stories which we have believed, but can really hinder our growth as a human being. When I saw growth, I mean growth as whatever we are doing in life through our relationships, our craft, our business, whatever it is.
Anaroth: Can you share a memorable moment in your art career and why it stands out?
Archan Nair: I think the one I clearly know about and remember is back in 2016 when I took up on this journey where I wanted to create an artwork everyday for a year. By day 290 I thought I broke my back because I was stressing out, just sitting and working like crazy. I went to the doctor and they wanted me to go and get surgery, I couldn’t stand, sit or move, it was very painful. I was clear that I didn’t want to go in for a surgery, for one I am afraid of a surgery I don’t want anyone to touch my back. So I discovered another option of bedrest and physical therapy.
What was running in my mind was, I really need to complete this art series. I don’t want to get to the 290th day and stop. Friends and family came to install a studio of sorts around my bed. For the next 60 or 70 days I was painting while laying flat on bed. What really happened during the process was that the 291st day was basically going back to scratch. By the time I finished the entire project, I realized that this entire experience was so crucial, and so transformational. The entire year and specifically this injury to my back was extremely important and crucial because what really happened was I tapped into a flow state. I began to focus on just creating, and not focusing on the other things in my life.
Yes, the quality of the work went down in those first few days because my body wasn’t used to creating that way. Yet it unlocked a discovery that for me creating is meditation. A way to dissolve the things that may be distracting myself from awareness. The experience was so deeply moving and transformational that I tried to recreate it again, but I just felt that there’s no need for it to happen again. I really understood what the creative process is. We’re just basically vessels or instruments of the universe, and it’s just expressing itself through us and we just need to let that happen as seamlessly as possible. I have learned that meditation is not a practice that one must force on themselves. For me meditation is merging the mind with the source. We practice being aware of external sources and objects all the time, training our mind to look outward, so it can be challenging at times to break that down and look inward.
**Anaroth: **You’ve had some successful partnerships with big brands. The beginning of our conversation has been a lot around openness and your your ability to explore where you want your creation to go. Do you have any advice for artists who might get approached by a large corporation or a large brand that allows them to feel good about the art they’re creating on behalf of that partnership?
Archan Nair: I started working with brands back in 2006 or 2005 and I remember until about 2012 or 2013 I used to struggle a lot working with clients. There were a lot of rejections, artworks that got made and the client was not really happy with. Or I was not happy with it. I think most of the problem for me was not understanding what my clients required. They were mostly moments where I was trying to make them agree on something which I wanted to do. Or something which I perceived should be a specific way. I realized that it is really important to understand where your client is coming from and what they want. Are they looking for something that is truly your style and authentic to you as an artist? Or are they looking for something that is more commercial and this distinction is something you need from the get go.
You cannot overcome all of this through listening to others, you have to experience it
One of the things I like about working with clients is you get to learn a lot. Whenever I do client projects I am usually simultaneously working on personal artworks. I realized that when I create personal art I usually don’t step out of my comfort zone. I try and do things which I really love and enjoy, but working with clients have been important aspects in my journey because they really made me do things which I really did not want to do. This is where I have learned a lot of new things. Trying something which I felt was really cheesy or something in my mind I would see not workout, but because the client wanted this I had to do this. But in trying those techniques or trying a new direction, experimenting with it I discovered that there’s something fresh and new which I could implement in my art and my personal journey.
When I started working with brands after this I looked at them as training exercises where I can learn something new. I have seen a lot of evolution of my art journey come from this. By not looking at commercial brands or clients as projects but truly an opportunity to experiment and learn has been a crucial distinction.
Anaroth: Who or what is it that you find is inspiring your work now?
Archan Nair: I think there is an abundance of inspiration around us, not just a specific artist. When I reflect though, I really enjoy the idea of the blockchain and programmable art through smart contracts. I also really enjoy nature and being on hikes, and I will search for these places where light and shadow interact. But I don’t want my work to mimic what I saw, I want my work to be how I view light and shadow. My version. I feel that’s something which really fascinates me, I’ve been studying this for the last three years really deeply. I love going into walks in nature and just observing light and shadow. I find ourselves infused with inspiration all the time. It is more about how we take that inspiration and manifest it into something else.
When someone says hey I don’t feel inspired, it’s an excuse. How can you not be inspired? That’s absolute BS. You are constantly inspired it’s just that there is this filtration system which is working on you. You don’t recognize it, it’s so subtle that your mind plays a trick on you saying that hey i’m not inspired. You are! You just have all these judgments and preconceived notions of outcome that get in the way.
**Anaroth: **What advice do you have for people who are looking to truly start their journey of creation?
Archan Nair: I think the priority is what you want to do in your heart. So if your heart in your core being as a creative person is to make a lot of money and make like a lot of sales or whatever it is then you aren’t looking it at the right way. Money and materialism are the side effects of the time you invest in your craft. It will come back to you in a natural way. Your focus should be on your inner journey, and to ask more about who you are, and why you are the way you are. When you expand your craft you expand your consciousness. The key is not to focus on ten different things, but to truly focus on one, and spending energy on finding the right one.
I feel that new artists often have self doubt, comparisons and judgments. I think that it’s very natural for everyone to feel this way, but no matter how much mentorship one has, no matter how much they listen to other artists. At the end of the day they have to venture out on their own, because it’s their journey. Only through that creative process will you be able to come up and overcome those self doubts. You cannot overcome all of this through listening to others, you have to experience it. It is only when you experience, when you fall again and again that you realize where you make minor corrections. It is a constant work and it takes time, and thats also how your craft develops. As an artist it is important to experience doubt, fear, hesitation, and challenges. It is how you will continue to evolve, grow and improve.
I’ve been looking at looking back at my work back from 2005 2006, my early early work. One of the most amazing things I love about those artworks is that they aren’t my best work. They’re not really good in terms of the work, but I see how i was making them. There was no refining, it was just experimental because I didn’t know what I was doing. I look back at that rawness, and wish I could replicate that madness, rawness and lack of refinement. When I think about what I would want to tap into now, it’s that feeling.
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