Hailing from Kolkata, India, multi-talented artist Rahul Jha started his career as a mechanical engineer and then followed his true passion to become an artist. Inspired by pop-culture and the uprising of the digital age in the early 2000's, most of Jha's vibrant artwork features musicians and films in digital form. His artistic calling ultimately led him to start a marketing and design agency with a long time friend and leave his mechanical engineering job. In doing so, one of the first projects he participated in was the Talenthouse Moxy Washington D.C. Creative Invite. The brief called for artists worldwide to create Dada artwork inspired by the city of Washington D.C. for a new Moxy Hotel. Out of 152 submissions, Jha was chosen as the Selected Artist because of his in depth look into the Dada art movement and understating of Washington D.C.'s vibes. Jha's selected piece showcased an eagle, D.C.'s map and random objects like Jenga blocks, pools and lemon wedges that play into the Dada art aesthetic and Moxy's fun atmosphere. The selected piece is now showcased at the Moxy Hotel Washington D.C. on a screen rotating through different color moods of the same image. We caught up with the talented artist to ask about his inspirations, future projects and his Moxy artwork!
TH: How old are you and where are you from/currently live?
RJ: I’m a 33 year old living in the cultural capital of India, Kolkata.
TH: What is your work/life background?
RJ: I’m a mechanical engineer by training and a self-taught artist by passion. I’ve inherited my artistic skills from my mother, she was studying fine arts but had to quit midway. Fortunately, both my brother and I turned out to be artists and that makes her proud. Growing up, art was an integral part of my life, but I really got hooked to it since the dawn of the age of personal computers in India in the early 2000s. The internet and digital art completely changed my outlook as a designer, impacting my styles which are heavily influenced by pop-culture. I love experimenting with traditional illustrations, vectors, typography and motion.
TH: Do you have any favorite artist that has inspired you?
RJ: My favorite Artists are James Jean, Shepard Fairey & Kehinde Wiley.
TH: How long have you been an artist? Is it a full-time profession for you?
RJ: I had never thought of art as a career, because growing up, there were very few options available. I studied hard and did engineering, and worked as a design engineer for 9 years in one of the world’s largest industrial gas company. I decided in August this year to pursue my dreams as an entrepreneur and left my corporate avatar by building up a marketing and design agency, along with my childhood friend as a partner.
TH: What made you want to participate in the Moxy Washington D.C. Creative Invite?
RJ: This invite came along just when I was beginning my entrepreneurial journey and I was working hard to have a good portfolio as an artist I was really excited about the Dada Art Movement, when I researched it. It gave me the freedom to experiment. And even though I had never done this style before, nor been to Washington D.C., I gave it a try. As an artist it’s always the unknown which brings out the best as it lets the mind have a free run and this contest was the exact thing which allowed me to use my imagination uninhibited.
TH: What did you do when you found out you were chosen as the Selected Artist for Moxy Washington D.C.?
RJ: I told my father, he was working out on the treadmill, and he almost fell off in his excitement. It indeed was a big moment for me and my family.
TH: What was the inspiration for your submission to this Creative Invite?
RJ: The 4 artworks play in sequence to show the different moods and vibes of Downtown D.C. The artwork focuses on the History and culture of Washington D.C. along with Moxy’s ‘Play on’ attitude. The Style and mood of the artwork is inspired from the Dada Art Movement, which in my opinion, was to challenge the limits of art, and break conventions. The shapes and visuals are inspired from Washington D.C. itself. The circle and dots are inspired by the shapes on the Technicolored Church at SW Waterfront. The colored balls are inspired from the hangings at Palmer alley at City Centre. The juxtaposition of the statue, with the eagle, represents the American spirit. The map of the city is also used in the artwork, along with some text from old newspapers. The play on attitude is represented by the cocktail with the clock-lemon, that shows round the clock fun. The Jenga towers also show the infinite good times.
TH: If you could have an hour to talk with anyone from the past, who would that be?
RJ: It would be the Polish sculptor Stanislav Szukalski. I was really inspired by a recent Netflix documentary on his life.
TH: Do you have any projects you are currently working on, or planning on doing?
RJ: I love making illustrated movie posters, and I'm focusing on building my own agency. I'm also working on a personal collection of illustrations based on my relationship with the internet over the 2 decades.