In a crowd of strangers, a particular person catches Prakash’s interest. The man is pouring hot brewed tea in small glasses. As he wipes the sweat off his brow, and calls out “Chaar Chai!”—four cups of tea ready to be served, Prakash attention is on the lines of his face, the way it wrinkles when he smiles as someone shares a joke, and his glance when he calls out for tea. All these details, in quick hand strokes, find a place in Prakash’s sketchbook, where Chai Tapriwala’s sketch shares company with that of tribal children, street hawkers and others, whom we look at, but never see. This is Prakash Thombre, an artist, a biker and photographer who after a break of two decades, got back to sketching. He is the founder and creative director of Wide media Group, a branding and UX Design Studio, Pune, Maharashtra. Currently, he is also a UX design ´ consultant for few offshore tech companies.
Prakash did his Applied Art from Abhinava Kala Mahavidyala, Pune. But even before that, the spark to sketch had been long ignited. When he was a child, Prakash spent hours watching his dad create art. A Chief Drafts Man in the Navy, Prakash’s father was good with art. Prakash would sit with him holding his slate and chalk, and begin doodling. Under his dad’s guidance and ample amounts of drawing material, a single sketchbook would finish in a few days. Free time at school, including the recess was filled with drawing. At College, in an atmosphere running high on creativity and professors who quickly turned to mentors, Prakash started drawing characters and sketching scenes. One of his many mentors, Dilip Kadam and his comic illustrations, pencil sketches, story board outlines and inkings inspired him to no end. Others like Maruti Patil and Milind Phadke further shaped his interest.
While this was the learning he was getting inside his art college, Prakash’s true learning experience was outside the campus. Staying in Lonavala and travelling to Pune every day for college meant taking the early morning local. In the golden early morning light, Prakash would notice the details—the wrinkles, the smiles, the contours on the doodhwaalas (milk men), bhajiwalas (vegetable vendors), people like him who travelled for work, who all came with different stories and varied homes, but travelled together in the same train. “Sitting face to face and sketching them was so much fun,” says Prakash. “It was an everyday routine…I did that almost for five years.”
In 2000, he made a shift from print to digital, getting involved in interactive projects, web presentations and motion graphics before setting up his own design studio. Later, he got introduced to UX design and this fascination led him to start his own UX design firm, closing his studio. Today, his art has found him again and after a break of twenty years, has become a routine once more. “I feel satisfied if I do a sketch first thing in the morning, before I start my day,” Prakash says. “It feels like how you feel after a good meditation.”
There is more than one way to tell someone’s story; Prakash’s medium is through sketches. “Sketching people is like telling short stories of them in art form,” he says. The dynamic strokes, loose lines with details on the focused aspects—that is how he puts these stories on paper. Many of these are a result of unplanned travel; times when he hits the road to go to nearby villages, or through the Konkan. He chooses home stays over hotels, and anything that would bring to him the place, its roads, its people and their stories in its most raw form. He shoots whatever he can with his camera, going home with a memory card full of photographs to be used for references to do sketches and drawings later. Once at home, he pulls out a nib like Flex and Parallel from his pen collection and busies himself with some sketches. He calls himself a ‘fountain pen freak’, and occasionally, he turns to watercolor and pencil rendering.
“I feel satisfied if I do a sketch first thing in the morning, before I start my day, It feels like how you feel after a good meditation”
These stories find a way to him sometimes in the chaos and hustle of the city and other times, in solitude, at the quiet sea side. With each stroke of his drawing he brings out a story, of the person we usually look over, who does not get our attention, but has a story to tell, of happiness or of struggles.And when he brings these stories to us, you may be able to hear a faint song in the background, with particular lines echoing from Don Mclean’s ‘Vincent’–“Weathered faces lined in pain, Are soothed beneath the artists loving hand…”
You can write to Prakash – email@example.com