With the tagline, ‘One story, 7 artists and you’ Saptan stories is a joint venture of the British Council India and the Oscar winning studios Aardman Animations from the UK. As part of the UK India Year of Culture 2017, the two companies wanted to create a project that could unfold around the idea — consequences, where one act decides what happens next. That’s when Saptan was born!
Sharing more about their union, Alan Gemmell from British Council states, “When we decided on Saptan, we knew that it was going to be the first online campaign for digital arts. We brought together seven artists from India and the UK to illustrate storylines and image a story. To make it interactive, we sought the help of the public. One line will be given by us and thereafter the story will be led by the people.” The first line of the story given by the Aardman group was, “I found it hard to get over my broken heart, and I thought I never would. Then one night, by the moonlit river, something happened that changed everything.” The initiative that runs for seven weeks has online submissions where people can write the next line of the story and over voting, the best line is chosen.
Neil Pymer, the Interactive Creative Director from Aardman shares, “It was difficult choosing the seven artists who will be part of the story. Their breadth, range and visual uniqueness was truly stunning. The chosen seven are artists are also storytellers. It is a real challenge to create imageries in a short span of time. They don’t even know what’s coming next and it is exciting!”
“I love to illustrate mystifying imageries. The story began in a dark and dreamy state just as I liked it” shares illustrator Saloni Sinha. She adds, “Being a nature lover already, I liked drawing the elements of it in the background. It is a fusion of reality and surrealism, which fascinates me. Although we have only one and a half days to complete the artwork, with softwares like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator having simple tools, it helps our subconscious imagination come alive quickly!”
Talking about his involvement with Saptan, Priyesh Trivedi an artist from Mumbai says, “Because it’s inclusive and dynamic due to audience participation in continuing the stories it makes the audience, the creators as much as the artists are making it one large work of art where everyone is involved. Also it’s great to be a part of this alongside other talented artists from these two countries that share so much history and culture.” Adding to which Saloni states, “It is enchanting to see the imageries created by my co-artists. Even we don’t know how the story will unfold. I hope that it has an adventurous ending.”
With the advantage of a digital space and a crowdfunded platform, Saptan is gathering a lot of social media attention and participation. Neil adds, “This creative cycle is both exciting and daunting.” When asked about the graphic novel culture in both the countries, he says, “The culture is starting to find a stride. It has become a valid artistic medium in its own right.” More events like Mix the city (exploring the music of the city) and Mix the body (composing contemporary dance pieces of the city) are to be introduced in many cities in India soon.