Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Laugh Out Loud (LOL)

By Savitha Hira
“45% artist + 55% humorist is the ideal concoction that defines a cartoonist,”says VINS – one of India’s seven eminent cartoonists, as he creatively brainstorms everyday happenings and non-visual concepts into tangible graphic features with his potent brand of caption-less satirical cartoons…

The ability to laugh at oneself and at life per se is by far the toughest philosophical bye-law that one can aspire to practise; for, whilst skill-set and application are learned aspects of any vocation, humour is inherent.  

An in-depth conversation with Vijay Narain Seth - VINS to all who know the distinguished cartoonist – resulted in understanding that the art of drawing cartoons and cartoon illustrations is after all, not a vestige of the skill of fine art but rather, a thoroughly developed and painstakingly nurtured proficiency that in fact, has drawing as a basic tool. Egalitarian in its exploration on the large canvas of life, this tool has humour as its latent constituent. Cartooning is one discipline of art through which one can get away with expressing the nastiest comment of the day, or for that matter express a gamut of emotions and observations without being offensive – rather underlining it with irony and cynical humour that consistently catches one off-guard without missing its cue.

VINS has been a cartoonist and illustrator for the last 46 years, prolifically sketching either what his circumstantial mindset produces or the thematic that his current assignment dictates.  Blurring the line between cartoons and caricature, illustration and narrative, VINS is a style that is pert, smart and infused with wry humour. Whether through a witty caption, or a silent riot of expressions(he excels at these); at times blatantly in-the-face and at others, veiled satire – the jocular rhythm of his representations are established more in the stratum of a disguised, often ambiguous comment; cheeky and inspired rather than bare commentary. While a general trend observes most Indian cartoonists following the British school of thought, VINS’ is one of the few who follow the European satirical style; greatly influenced by French cartoonist André François, a pioneer in the European style after World War I, and whom he met in 1990.

“In this art of maximum expression via simple lines”, says VINS. “One has to develop one’s own distinctive style.” And this is generally the distinguishing and defining factor that sets apart one cartoonist from the other irrespective of the genre that he /she practices. It can vary from the subtle at one extreme to the graphic at the other. To develop a stylistic identity, an artist must appreciate that any style can be viewed as viable as long as it is popularly received and has an application in the marketplace.  It is through sheer practice here that one develops and sustains a distinctive signature style – variations could manifest in drawing form, line work, colour treatment, story-board characterisation or even the vocabulary of humorous content. And moving hand-in-glove with this are the basic tools of the artist – medium and technique.

Categorically speaking, cartoons may be segregated into different types or genres – political cartoons or editorial cartoons as they are called; gags; social satire; sports cartoons, caricatures, etc., and VINS has tried them all. While his scope has always been dictated by assignments and deadlines, his best foot forward has been his thematic cartoons – on corporate culture, sports, international affairs, cross-cultural influences, and the like. And each has been a learning experience - a lesson in totality.  

With a government diploma in fine art and an equally prolific hand at painting, VINS has been very dynamic and instrumental in spreading his wings to make a place for himself among the top seven eminent cartoonists of India riding alongside stalwarts like Mario Miranda and R. K. Laxman. His pioneering efforts in introducing the vernacular press cartoonists to the international scenario especially to the German media are laudable, apart from his long list of awards and accolades. Today, VINS is a budding amateur photographer, painting and sketching regularly, and accepts cartooning assignments that rekindle the sense of impishness and intrigue in him. “The rat race is no longer my cuppa”, says he, as he can finally enjoy his art form in true artistic style, away from the hustle of deadlines that tends to bog this vocation.

Excerpted from the feature first published in Home Review magazine issue Feb 2010.




  1. Wow, I like the way you did these cartoons! I'm happy to be your friend, Vinns! Keep going on this talent..:) one day I will give you a story of life so to emphasize it through cartoons, can you do this for me? (Yolly)

  2. Brilliant sir...!!


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