Ahead of our Indian Crypto Art Exhibit, we got a chance to talk to surrealist photographer Rohan Ganapathy, the spotlight artist leading the pack of this excellent group of Indian creators curated by Samosa Rani.
MP: Can you introduce yourself and give our readers a sense of your artwork and career?
I am Rohan Ganapathy. I love creating experiences that evoke feelings and tell stories. I’m also someone who believes in magic and that anything is possible. I use surreal and experimental photography or photo art as a medium to make my stories come alive. I’m super fascinated with weird and odd forms of photography. I’ve been an active photo artist for the past seven years now. I also love gaming. I love creating interactive experiences. I’ve also been working in the casual mobile gaming industry for over a decade now.
MP: Paint us a picture of your life pre-NFT. What kind of art were you creating? Were there any formative experiences that really shaped your artistic vision?
I started my journey as a landscape photographer, trying to learn concepts of photography on it. I quickly discovered that I wanted to tell deeper stories — my life stories, specifically — in a metaphoric way. I learned about conceptual photography and started taking self-portraits to learn the concepts that were behind it, after which I fell in love with surreal and experimental photography.
So about a year into my journey, I was really fortunate to have a chance to take a photo of my life in multiple galleries, including the BBA Gallery of Berlin and the Lauren Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, just to name a few. Honestly, the struggles of my personal life and identity were my true drive. So I was searching for a way to tell these complex life stories, like to create a diary of my heart and soul.
I bumped into this online course by photographer Sorelle Amour that talks about self-portrait photography. And I was a very active member in the photography community with positive, like-minded photographers. So I then learned to combine the conceptual techniques with self-portraits to tell these complex narratives that were there in my head.
MP: Light bulbs are a near-constant motif in your work. Can you tell me how it became central to your work?
Yes, yes, they are. From my childhood, actually, back in the days when we had fewer cars on the road. My dad made me count car headlights while traveling between places to keep me occupied. So since then, I’ve been absolutely fascinated by anything and everything that glows, shines, shimmers or sparkles. I find it magical.
There is just so much power in light. There is just so much… Like we always constantly hear these stories of light overcoming darkness or how the light is going to lead us all to heaven or glory. So, in a way, I search for it each day of my life. Heck, I even sleep with the lights turned on.
So the thing about light bulbs is that I’m able to show these millions of emotions and feelings through them. A light bulb can mean anything. Knowledge, wisdom, happiness, positivity, brightness, innovation, hope, sadness, death. Really limited by our imagination. It just opened up endless possibilities of how I can use them in my creation. It’s been my identity ever since.
MP: Which of your pieces do you feel the strongest emotional connection to and why? Which piece feels the most personal?
Oh gosh, I’ve never thought about this, honestly. All my work is personal. They all have a piece of my heart, mind, and soul.
Right now, off the top of my head — or rather my heart, in this case — I think I have three. The first one being my Genesis piece. It’s called The Inner Spark. It’s my true genesis as a photographer and photo artist. The piece honestly is a beautiful mistake. I don’t know if I can ever recreate something like it. It speaks of a point in our lives when nothing is going our way and we look for that spark that would be a catalyst for change.
The second piece being Infinite Doors. Which is my genesis piece for my current art style with light bulbs. It’s a little take on how life offers us endless possibilities, and all we have to do is peek through the door.
The third one is super special to me. It’s called NFT Spot the Difference. I am the first creator to have built and launched a mobile game as an NFT on an NFT marketplace all on my own. So every single line of code and art in it is mine. The game is based on the nostalgic concept where you find differences between two pictures. It was built as a utility to my artwork as part of creating an immersive experience. So all the levels in the game have my own artwork, and it’s built with the idea of also providing utility to art from other creators. So the game levels currently already feature two artworks from two other creators. So I’m very proud of it, and I can’t wait to grow the project further.
MP: What do you hope people feel when they look at your art?
I wanted to let people know that they are not alone with how they feel, what they’re going through. I want them to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we are in there with them holding their hand. Making the same journey but just wearing a different set of shoes. I love to see the expression of fascination on people’s faces when they look at my art and their interpretation of it. I want my art to be an immersive experience.
What kind of themes stories do you typically focus on?
I create enchanted escapes. I love telling whimsical and spiritual stories. I create experiences, feelings, and journeys. I love spreading magic, and I love spreading a lot of light and a lot of love and positivity and to motivate people.
We often speak of hardships but never enough about healing. So what started as a process of healing for me, I soon came to realize that my creations can be a medium to help others heal. So my art is a complex harmony between stories, lessons, and my imagination.
MP: You are one of a relative few artists that have successfully created a unique style that is all your own. Tell us a bit about your process from start to finish. What tools do you mainly use to create your digital works?
Thank you for your kind words. The road to finding my artistic identity was long, but I eventually got there after a lot of experimenting, mistakes, and a lot of hard work. Experimenting, mistakes, and lessons, and yet I have a long way to go. Well, the process being I start with a memory, and I think back to the emotion or feeling that surrounds it.
So once I’ve grasped it, I then come up with a concept to tell it by imagining a whole scene and the different elements and symbols that I would want in that scene. I start then with scouting for locations that come close to what I’ve imagined. Go to the location and shoot myself on a self-timer. I always have done my own shooting. I have no help. So everything is done on a self-timer. So I shoot myself on self-timers doing these really weird poses while people all around me are staring at me like I’m crazy.
Once that’s done, I shoot photos of all the different elements that would go into the art individually. Then I come back home, and then the magic of creation happens in Photoshop, and the animations happen in After Effects.
So the whole process of my art usually takes me about a week with no sleep at the absolute minimum. And it’s not just digital works. I also have physical pieces of my work as well. So in a lot of my NFTs, the physicals are part of my NFTs as well.
MP: Which artists have had the biggest impact on your work?
My biggest impact is a super successful Swedish surreal photographer Eric Johansson. His works are out of this world, literally and figuratively. I remember entering his gallery show for the very first time and just going, whoa. The storytelling was none like I’ve ever experienced. The photos were so immersive that I just spent hours staring at them. My friend had to literally drag me out of the gallery because it was closing time.
Since then, I’ve been extremely inspired by him. He’s just like this guru for me ever since. I think it’s also Sorelle Amore for her positive impact on me as a person with my body and the lessons she taught me about being confident when I’m doing self-portrait photography. And the concepts and the tips and tricks that she’s given me.
MP: Do you have any favorite crypto artists?
Oh gosh, so many. Being part of the NFT community has been one of those highlights of my life. I’m just awe-inspired the second I open Twitter every day and see all the crazy talent. But I really have to give it to Harry Pack Art. I love him and his art as someone who is awestruck with surreal creations. His work is simply put beyond. There is nothing like it in the realm of surreal art. Not only that, but he’s also just a kind and amazing guy.
I think the second person is Karen Jerzyk. I’m sure I’m butchering her second name, but she’s a surreal photographer whose work just blows my mind. If her art were a deity, I would totally worship it. The courage, the style, the compositions, the stories, the surreal elements in her works are just out of this world.
MP: If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be?
Karen Jerzyk, without a doubt. I don’t even know how to feel thinking about something like that happening. I would be terrified, nervous, happy, and excited all at the same time. Her works are just cool. Her ideas, her style. I would get this chance, I think, to really understand how she comes up with the concepts and really get an entrance into her absolutely fascinating mind. Of how she creates her works. I think I would just learn a lot just by being with her. And I also think if we ever collaborate, the work would be insane. For sure.
MP: Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?
I am very active in the NFT Space, So reaching out to me on any social media channel would be easy.
Game website: www.nftspotthedifference.com