City-based artist, Acid Toad aka Gaurav Basu, talks to us on why grotesque is cool and launching his recent posters and album cover
Frontman of Bangalore-based metal act, Inner Sanctum, Gaurav Basu grew up doodling incessantly right through school. None of his notebooks were off limits. Be it maths, science or literature, all bore evidence of Basu’s edgy artwork that later matured and became his signature style of graphics, gracing tees, book covers and posters. “I was always inspired by Bengali folk tales featuring cannibalistic demons, tales that scared me yet fired my childish imagination, seeing as how they were richly narrated by my mom,” he begins, telling us how his penchant for dark, demonic illustrations were further influenced by rock and roll and metal imagery.
Basu, a Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath graduate, is drawn to alternative and underground sub-cultures, and his dark and psychedelic work has quite a following in the Indian independent music scene. “I always enjoyed the sheer hellish noise of heavy metal sound. And their gnarly album covers,” says Basu, explaining that becoming the frontman for the band was also one of the main reasons Acid Toad was born. “Being part of the band also gave me the liberty to explore and experiment with my work and make people aware of an alternative art scene that exists globally,” says the artist who also does children’s book covers.
Dare to bare
“Acid Toad pretty much functions on its own reasoning that goes something like this – Forget that bland landscape painting, hang this scary, provoking gig poster instead,” he enthuses. And what are the principles he uses? “While designing an album cover, there are concepts and symbolic elements present in the lyrics. But I also use on-the-spot experimentation. I try to visualise things that are horrifying yet wonderful,” he tells us. Basu also prefers the old fashioned way, using a pen and paper. “Since a lot of my work gets printed on shirts and posters, I add the colour digitally for convenience, but the core illustrations are best done by hand. Digital medium always removes the human element and kind of kills the fun,” he shares.
His top picks are the album art of French electro-metal band, The Algorithm, and his cannabinoid take on Godzilla, titled Budzilla. He hopes to work with Rahul Chako (Scribble Bandit) and Pia Meenakshi (Gumani) eventually.