Gaurab Thakali is a London based illustrator whose art is taking the London music and skate scenes by storm, working with the likes of Skateboard Café, The New Yorker, commune, Church of Sound and Camden Town Brewery to name a few. A vivid fusion of bold colours and strong lines, Gaurab’s pieces pack all of the punch of being in the throes of a roaring night in an underground jazz bar, putting a new spin on the iconic aesthetic of Blue Note Records.
We sat down with Gaurab in his South London studio to get to know him and his approach to his work.
Was it always your plan to become an illustrator?
As a young person who just emigrated to the UK, I didn’t know you could make a living out of being an artist, despite having a strong interest. When I was at sixth form my teacher helped me understand it was actually achievable and I began to take my work more seriously. That’s when I pursued a degree at Camberwell college of arts.
How would you describe the aesthetic of your work?
All of my work is based on various art forms that I have seen or experienced. The pieces can range from an impressionist painting to a Blue Note record sleeve. The materials and mediums I use tend to give a vibrant and colourful feel that brings out the atmosphere of the subject matter.
How did you develop your style?
Working and sketching everyday! As I develop, I pick up on things that seem right and they end up bringing continuity to my work, resulting in a defined aesthetic.
When you’re in need of a hit of inspiration, where do you turn?
I love film stills, record sleeves and art from different eras including painters like Durer, Monet, Van Gogh, Edvard Munch and Japanese woodblock print artists.
What’s been your favourite piece of work to date?
Recently, I was commissioned by The New Yorker to illustrate an article on one of my all time favourite musicians, Sonny Rollins. I’d also have to say working with friends at Church of Sound and Skateboard Café as they give me a lot of creative freedom.
There’s a lot of musical reference within your work, from bars to jazz bands. How did this come about?.
I was living with some jazz musician friends at university. They introduced me to the music and I ended up listening to it 24/7! It gave me a deeper understanding of the sound and became a strong reference in my work.
Your work has been put onto skateboards, ping pong paddles and 7 inch vinyl sleeves. Is there any other medium you’d like to work with?
It’s been fun to have my work on objects on a collaborative level. I’m personally focused on creating some large-scale paintings in the near future.
What can we expect to see from you for the rest of the year?
More work for music and skateboarding, but I can’t give too much away!
Keep up to date with Gaurab and his work over on his Instagram.