Featured SingularCity Member: Raj Naik
This member of our community for sexy, savvy singles brings his East Indian heritage and a life of worldly travels to create photographs that reflect his view of life.
SingularCity: Tell about your transition from India to Los Angeles?
Raj: I grew up in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas in a boarding school. My parents were living in Switzerland at the time, so I only got to see them twice a year. The school was fairly isolated with no major towns in the vicinity. There was no TV to watch either, so focusing on the arts came quite naturally.
The transition from India to LA came via Zurich, where I spent 5 years upon returning from boarding school. The time I spent in Switzerland played a big role in shaping my general visual aesthetic. The winter landscape was austere with very few colors. Quite gray and bleak. Coming from India, a vibrantly colorful country, this change took a while to get used to. But when I did, I learned to see form very clearly without the distraction of color.
I moved to LA in 1998 and studied computer graphics at UCLA extension for a few years before taking photography and fine art/mixed media classes at Otis. During this time, I had a modest roster of clients, mainly record companies for whom I did design projects. I enjoyed having that balance between fine art and commercial work.
Visually speaking, I’ve found it quite hard to photograph in Los Angeles. I miss the drama and challenge of the Indian monsoon where you really have to be patient to get the right kind of light. Here in Southern California, the light is always good and that sometimes leads to procrastination. If I don’t shoot today, I know the light is going to be the same tomorrow and therefore don’t end up taking any pictures at all, unless of course it is a commercial assignment.
SC: What sparked your interest in photography and graphic design?
Raj: CD album covers actually, it was Steve Vai’s “Passion and Warfare” that made me want to get into the visual arts. Looking back, it’s a bit too playful with all the angels and demons but in my early teens, it looked like a creative playground with endless possibilities. Also, Peter Gabriel’s “Passion” cover which is gorgeous.
I started drawing and painting very early but photography came much later. I needed pictures as elements for my design projects, so I started photographing out of necessity.
SC: Whose work has inspired you the most?
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Michael Kenna, Kenro Izu, Anjolie Ela Menon and M.F. Husain.
SC: What do you feel is the relationship between fine art and commercial work?
In my life, fine art photography/mixed media and commercial work are mirrored. One fuels the other. Commercial projects have strict deadlines. Opinions and feedback come from various members of the team and this makes you look at things differently. When you start looking at things from another perspective, it opens up more doors in your own mind and forces you to explore. You go down roads you wouldn’t have on your own and this leads to significant creative growth.
On the other hand, you can experiment a lot while creating fine art pieces, especially because you have time on your side. Inspiration is sometimes found in the shape of a finished piece or simply in the process. The sparks are often found here.
SC: What interested you about SingularCity?
The sense of community. Like-minded people with similar interests. In a place as large as Los Angeles, it can be difficult to connect with others and Singular helps bring people together in a fun environment.