· By Alona Elkayam
Work From Heart Episode 3: Artist Prateek Vatash
Prateek Vatash is an artist and futurist that lives in India's Silicon Valley, Bangalore. His work is sought out by brands like Adobe and McDonald's, but that's not what makes him incredible. It's his Space Escapes. Vatash creates rare, incredible futuristic environments–where the Atomic Age meets Blondie–he'd like to escape to. We sat down with him, virtually, for Episode 3 of our Working From Heart Series. Watch the live interview.
What’s your quarantine song?
The Rhythm of the Night by Corona
When I saw your work on Instagram, I almost fell off my chair. Unlike the 1950’s and 60’s where there were so many artists, designers, filmmakers, and writers imagining the future (Jetsons, Bladerunner, Popular Science Magazine), today there are so few artists taking the time to envision the future in a purely aesthetic way. Your Space Escapes, unlike Bladerunner (new and old) and Aeon Flux or any of the futurist films, your work is somewhat optimistic. Tell us about the world you are creating?
The entire Space Escape series started when I spent a lot of time working by myself in a kind of self-chosen isolation back in 2018. There were a lot of moments where I just wanted to escape, and travel to imaginary places and that manifested in a way in the illustrations that I was creating. I always had an inclination towards spaces, sci-fi, and architecture. So with this project, I found a sweet spot where I could explore and enjoy all of those at the same time. When I do think of the future, I always try to imagine a brighter, more positive, sleeker, and uplifting world than what it is today.
How has your work changed since the pandemic? You are in Bangalore. Tell us what is happening there and how that might be affecting the aesthetic or the way you work?
The pandemic had forced the entire world to lockdown for months, and the same happened in Bangalore. Although the city-wide lockdown is pretty much over now, the COVID19 cases are on an all-time high. Knowing that the situation outside is not the best, being indoors has been the safest thing to do, and that means a lot of times by yourself, whether one likes it or not. This in a way really pushed me to look inwards, and focus on what I create, how I do it, and more importantly, why I’m doing it. Reflection at times like these has been very insightful, and art has been nothing but therapeutic. With the grim reality of the world right now, in a way, it’s inspiring to create something that is the opposite of that.
The worlds you create are vibrant. The colors, neon. The material, shiny. The shapes, open. In these Space Escapes, there are no people. Why is that?
I have always imagined these places to be my private escape spots, away from the world and the crowds. I tend to recharge myself in solitude, and the best thoughts emerge out of being in that state for me personally. A lot of these artworks are a mirror of me being in this mindset. That’s probably why we rarely catch a glimpse of people, and very occasionally one or two people in my work.
What is it about the worlds you create make them spaces you want to escape to?
The spaces are almost like dreamscapes, which border between reality and imaginary. The fact that they are so different from real life, but yet relatable really makes me want to be there. Plus they have great lighting, neon tinted walls and skies, and surreal elements; everything that I love and don’t normally get around me! I almost visualized this whole project like a travelogue, with me traveling to unknown territories and clicking photographs of the places I like.
What kind of music and what kind of sounds might you hear in these Space Escapes?
There would definitely be the (expected) retro synth-wave and vaporwave sounds, but has an edge to it with some pop-punk-rock sounds, electric guitars, and video game effects.
It’s so important to have stillness of the mind to create. How are you able to create that stillness so you can create room and allow the work to design itself?
Absolutely agree with that! I guess some of my best work has come together when I’m at complete peace, not just around me physically but also having peace of mind. For my personal artworks, I tend to work best when I know I’m not under any pressure to create something. That way it’s easier to channel my energy and thoughts and get “In the Zone”, tune into some great music, and focus on just making, going with the flow and let it happen.
What kind of impact do you want your work to have? What do you want people to understand through your work?
I delve a lot with the idea of escapism and have always wanted my work to have a feel-good factor to it. To be positive yet adventurous, to inspire self-expression, and to see things from a different perspective. I do feel like a majority of my work is a reflection of what I’m going through in life, my thoughts and the artworks are just a result of how I react to the world and things happening around me. It’s a great form of expression, and I love how I can say the things I want without being too literal or direct about it.
As an artist do you feel pressure to be productive during quarantine?
In the initial days of the quarantine, it was strange that some people were treating lockdown as a productivity contest; almost like seeing who can create the most amount of work, which I felt was very unhealthy. In a time like this, when we are already under so much mental stress, I absolutely did not agree with that idea. Art for me has always been therapeutic and something I do because I love doing it, so I did not allow myself to be pressured into making work just because it felt like everyone was suddenly super productive (which is probably not the case).
I would love to have a house with one room designed like a Space Escape. If you could choose a house and design one room in this style, whose house would it be?
That is a great question! I would definitely want to begin with my own house and studio space since I’ve never attempted to.
Your work feels super 80’s retro. What is your biggest influence for your work?
I’ve always been a huge Madonna fan, grew up listening to her music, so I really enjoy the feeling of nostalgia and fond memories. Being a 90s kid myself, I constantly find myself going back in time for inspiration. The retro vibes from the time kind of stuck with me because I instantly connected with the aesthetic, the neon lights, and the music of course. There is such a strong vibe positive vibe there and I love infusing the same energy in my work too.
Can you draw a perfect circle with pencil and paper? (He sent us his attempt)
Nothing is perfect, but I tried haha.
If you could travel to one of Vatash’s Space Escapes, we recommend you bring these futuristic designs for home and fashion.
Paco Rabonne metal scarf can double as a face mask
Punkt dumb phone (no internet) designed by Jasper Morrison.
Courrèges Silver Leather Ankle Boots
Illuminated Cyberpunk Cyber goth Visor Glasses
Far From Timid Strobe Dress
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