You can judge an album by its cover art: Sohail Nawaz Khan

The notion that art is just a passion hampers people from paying digital artists for their efforts.
Sohail Nawaz Khan
Sohail Nawaz Khan

CHENNAI: They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but 23-year-old Sohail Nawaz Khan a.k.a The_Nautilus_Shell believes it’s alright to judge an album by its cover art. CE caught up with this digital artist from Chennai, who has taken the Indian music scene by storm, to talk about the renaissance of album art, his initial struggles and the role of digital art in helping new musicians appeal to a larger demographic. Sohail is on a country-wide masterclass tour to help digital artists set up their businesses.

So how did this journey begin?
I began sketching when I was three years old and it’s always been a part of my life. I was in a band called Wings of Icarus and at the end of 2016 I realised that there was no one to do album cover art in Chennai, so I decided to combine my love for music and sketching. After my first project with metal band Diabolus Arcanium I began getting a project once in two months, but now I get projects every three days.

Are artists more receptive to having cover art instead of their own pictures on albums?
I’ve always believed that the best way to convey what an album represents is through art. Yes, there is a big shift towards album art among artists. Five of the biggest bands in the country have moved to album art for their latest album. Young musicians are also coming around because they understand album art appears to a larger audience.

What defines your style?
Details are everything to me. I don’t use many colours but I ensure they are clean. I also take time to ensure that the art reflects the artist and the sound of the album.

What’re the challenges of working as a digital artist?
The notion that art is just a passion hampers people from paying digital artists for their efforts. I still haven’t been paid by a top UAE magazine. I had not taken an advance because I was excited to work on the project and the company took advantage of that. I have faced similar incidents from other companies and individuals too.

What next?
I have achieved this dream of working with Australian Prog Metal collective, PLINI, and now I want to expand my business, go to design institutes and hire fresh talent in the next two years. There is a lot of untapped potential in the music industry and I want to make full use of it.

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The New Indian Express