If you are amazed by the creativity of idol makers who have conjured up diverse images of Pillaiyar alias Ganesha, the God of the moment, that now adorn homes and common Chaturthi pandals across Chennai, here is something that can flummox you. A Chennai-based graphic designer has given over 3,500 forms to the elephant-headed deity and is drawing more such black and white figures with a aim of making it to the record books.
“No single person has ever created so many images of one subject,” says R Thirumaran, the 52-year-old artist who passed out of Chennai’s Fine Arts college with a degree in Visual Communication in 1983 to later work as a teacher and in the advertising world as art director.
Years ago when he was asked to come up with 10 new Ganesha icons for designing wedding cards, Thirumaran drew a blank, unable to create not a single image that was not in the collection of the company he worked for. It was then he was driven by a passion to think out of the box and come up with new forms, which suddenly happened one night when he drew 25 images at one go.
Since then, he has not looked back. Almost everything that he sees, inspires him to put the face or full body of Ganesha into it. Venetian blinds, body tattoos, textile designs, the English alphabets, the numericals, neon lights, dry wood, architectural drawings, furniture, wooden blocks, tribal arts and a broken piece of the home-made cookie murukku are some of the visuals that had inspired him to come up with the unique collection of images that he had meticulously drawn on paper in the last four-and a-half years, whenever he was free.
At one point, he drew the images on computer screen, using Coral Draw programme but went back to his pen and paper form after the system crashed. He brought home a computer engineer to retrieve the images, but not all of the 450 could be salvaged. He did not want to take the computer to a service centre, fearing that his creative work could be pilfered.
Yes, he is very possessive of his images and has not given any of them for any use, though he sees a plethora of applications for his creations: Designing grills, neon lights, tattoos, wedding cards icons, clip art images, gift articles, textiles and jewellery, to name a few.
Thirumaran wants to publish his work in a book form and market it. “It will be a turning point in graphic designing,” he says. For, he feels that graphic arts has not gained the due recognition it deserves unlike other art forms.