A comic a day keeps worries away! The story of webcomic Brown Paperbag’s Sailesh Gopalan (Saigo)
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Comics - Art
What should you expect one to be doing at the age of 21? If your answer is ‘pursue conventional academics and look out for employment or internships’, think again! Meet Sailesh Gopalan, a webcomic artist from Mumbai. Sailesh is currently majoring in Digital Media Arts at Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru. He is beyond just an art student. He started his journey as a comic artist a year ago and has already launched his own webcomic series ‘Brown Paperbag’. Brown Paperbag webcomic has gone viral due to its focus on relatable situations and ironies of Indian families and society.
Team imd1 explored this bag full of thoughts. Read ahead to know more...
We are really keen to know, how did your journey begin?
In June 2016, I was reading this webcomic called "Blue Chair" by Shen and that really inspired me. Usually, whenever I see something new, I always try my hand at it. And that was when I decided to make a webcomic with an Indian flavor. Indian comics are usually political. However, I strictly restricted myself because I really wanted to make something different. That"s how "Brown Paperbag" came into existence.
Favorite Personalities and Inspiration
Japanese Manga author - Eiichiro Oda
Had I not been a Comic creator then...
Would be working in the Animation department
Like Vacations at
Favorite Pass time
Lord of the Rings
What’s your success mantra?
You just need to practice whatever you love doing. There"s absolutely no need to wait for a golden opportunity; just keep practicing.
What were the hardships / hurdles you encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
Time... Being a student, college - classes - activities - assignments keep you really busy. it is really difficult to take out time to conceptualize and draw comics. The only way to tackle this is time management. I made it a point to set out a little time for my drawing everyday apart from my regular college work. It is all about keeping the pen running. I am following this consistently and this routine has helped me overcome time hurdles.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
I haven"t really had any sort of failure as far as Brown Paperbag is concerned. But, before that, I did start a lot of projects and discarded them because I realized I am not the person for that particular thing. Instead of getting disheartened, I just moved on to something new. I strongly believe one should keep looking out for something which suits talents and skills. It is a journey of exploring oneself and finding new ways to do what you like to do and be successful at it. There are always too many projects related to drawing and animation, finally I derived mine!
Do you think this Art and its learnings can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
It is really important to know what"s happening around you. There is a possibility that you might discover an interest at it. Web comics is an interesting field to apply your creativity. It actually works both ways - You could convert a life experience into an art form or you could learn something new from an art form and adapt it into your daily life. It is always helpful to know more about comics and art.
Who has been your influencer in this journey and how?
The comic creator called Shen who writes Blue Chair and Owlturd Comix inspired me in the first place and motivated me to get into the whole universe of web comics in the first place. His work is just incredible. A lot of his work is about human expressions instead of text, which makes it different from others in the field.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I am the 1”?
I think I was lucky to start it at the right time.I have earned this stage and am confident of reaching farther but it’s still time to witness that ‘I am The 1” moment! It"s been an year since I started webcomics and Brown Paperbag and I am determined to keep going.
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
I have learned mostly by reading a lot of comics. Having general awareness and observing what is happening around helps me a lot. Although, I am pursuing design, it is not connected with my ability to draw and frame out comics. So, I am completely self taught in case of webcomics, especially Brown Paperbag.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
There is no criteria as such. You just need to get involved in your own project and make sure you put it up somewhere such that people can see it. You don"t need any sort of qualification to start a webcomic. In fact, I have seen many people who belong to absolutely different fields like IT and engineering, trying their hand at web comics because they are passionate about it. You need to have the right mindset to take this up. All you need to do is keep trying hard to explore about it and incorporate it in your work.
Technology and scientific training has been changing the way people get trained in this Art. What’s your take?
The one thing about technology is the internet. I have learnt extensively from the internet. The artwork that other people put up and everything else that I see online have made me frame my own form of art. Also, digital drawing is a big thing. It is very easy to begin. Once you are a pro at drawing on paper, you can easily draw using digital art too. Digital art gives you an important thing too - neatness!
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for in this Art?
Rather than depending on a Guru’s credentials and judging, I believe real success depends upon teaching yourself and pushing yourself towards it.
What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for this Art in India?
There is a lot of scope for improvement. Many people don"t even know about the art of making comics. Making people aware about it is important. And then it has to progress by making them experiment themselves. As of now, Comic making is not recognized as a formal art in our country. If it gets recognized, more people will try it out. This can prove extremely helpful to build up a flourishing career since it is still in a very niche form.
What do you suggest for better accessibility for being trained in this Art in remote parts of India?
There isn"t an easy solution to it. Even in metro cities, webcomics isn"t that well-known. Art and design are still coming up. They are not as settled as medical and engineering. But, there"s a silver lining. More people are taking it up. It will take time to spread through awareness.
In your opinion, what are the basic key traits apart from formal training that make “imd1”?
You need to be hardworking and confident. Most importantly, you should be able to recognize your own capability.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
If parents recognize an artistic potential in their child, they need to encourage it. That way they can raise a child who becomes a really good artist. Art is a really competitive field because there is a lot of talent everywhere. You need to be a step ahead and class apart to to make a mark and gain acknowledgement and appreciation for your art. My advice to the new generation would be to keep trying. There might be parental pressure, peer pressure, viability issues… But, you need to keep doing what you like doing even if it is a hobby. Later, if you are confident about it, you can convert it into a profession. You can"t give up just because people tell you to.
How can one identify and encourage talent in the family?
Parents encourage children to play sports. They could also motivate art - drawing, painting. It is very easy with children. A parent just needs to give enough exposure to a child. If a child likes any form of art, he/she will keep doing it and if a child doesn’t like it, they"ll stop right away and move on. Forcing them into anything won"t help at all. There are also times when, children have the skills but they are not interested. In that case, they won"t be able to put their heart into it and won"t find themselves meant for it. These situations need to be handled tactically.
One thing which you feel you want to change from the past while you walk down memory lane…
Not really. In fact I have fortunately had a very smooth phase. My parents have supported me throughout. I am the first person from my family to get into arts. I just hope many more add on to this in future!