1) Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you initially got into art?
    Hello, I’m Varoon, I’m 28 years old and I was born in Bombay. I spent my early formative years in a boarding school in the hills of Maharashtra where I was heavily influenced by nature, art and music. I’ve been drawing and painting with my brother ever since I can remember. I would draw cartoons, comic book characters and really enjoyed drawing diagrams in science class, something that is still prevalent in my style now. Art has always taken a back burner for me, as I wanted to experience other art forms and never felt the confidence of a career in it. I attended flight school in California right after high school to pursue a career in commercial aviation and then moved on to making music and playing in a band for six years. My latest endeavor is working as chef/manager at Vaayu, Prana Cafe.
2) Tell us about your role here at the Vaayu.
    My position here at Vaayu is of the Cafe Manager. Apart from managing the Cafe, I designed the menu and I am the Head chef. I host dinners, help organize events and see to smooth running of operations here.
3) What’s an average day in your studio like?
    I don’t really spend days in my studio anymore. Art to me is sporadic now, considering my current job it’s really hard to balance a regular disciplined life when it comes to painting or drawing. I am a night owl and almost all of my pieces are done in the quiet of the night.
4) A dream project for you would be?
    A dream project would be a situation where I could display all my works from food to music and art. A multi-sensory art exhibit.
5) Is there an ideal start-to-finish time for a project?
    Not really, and I hope I never get to that stage where I do. I’ve always felt some pieces need longer time than others even though they are less detailed and really basic. I also have the bad habit of adding paint or lines to pieces even after I’ve exhibited them. Somehow I always feel my pieces aren’t fully complete or always need amendment.
6) Would you ever consider creating a storybook/more narrative work for your illustrations? Are there particular kinds of stories you are drawn to?
    I would love to illustrate a storybook and have spoken to a few people about a collaborative project of this nature. I am currently working on an illustrated cookbook with my recipes that have been influenced by my travels but are centered around tropical fresh food
7) Tell us about your relation with the underwater kingdom. How has this influenced your art?
    My obsession with the ocean started at a very early age. I’ve always been by the beach and spent way too much time swimming and exploring the ocean. I’ve always had a curiosity of what lies beneath the waters and have been fascinated by how little we know about it. I am heavily influenced by the colors, shapes, smells, sounds and textures of the ocean world having always lived by the ocean. My recent obsession has been with Cephalopods. I am in awe of how intelligent they are and how differently developed they are compared to other creatures in the ocean or even on land. I truly believe they are extraterrestrial.
8) Is there a specific culture or type of food that is the pinnacle of your inspiration and how does it influence the dishes and experiences you create?
    If there were one word to describe the kind of food I like to produce it would be “Tropical”. From local Goan food to South East Asian cuisines and even South American styles, are all huge influences too the way I like to cook and the food I like to eat. The flavors are more familiar to me and are usually fresh and full of flavor.
9) How do you find balance between having a full-time job and your art?
    The job I have right now is extremely demanding of my time and energy. I really don’t make enough time for my art and am constantly fighting a battle of passions, as I would not want my profession to suffer. I try to spend the 4 months of the year when I’m not working to immerse myself in my art and that’s actually the time I get to play around and develop ideas.
10) Is the aim of your work to instill any particular beliefs in the audience?
    Our oceans are about 70% of the planet. We as humans have not been responsible enough to look after it and in fact have destroyed, polluted and abused it. Species have been wiped out and reefs been bleached. My aim as an artist is just a humble reminder of how awesome and fantastic our world is and that we need to pay more attention to conserving what we have.
I would love if my art was accepted into local communities of our country. It gives me immense joy to have my work in a local fisherman house. 12) Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
    I really don’t feel like I’m in a position to be advising aspiring artists, as I am one myself. But I do feel it’s important to disconnect from our media controlled world and disconnect to a space where it’s more about self-exploration. We as humans are extremely influenced by what we see and are often trying to emulate our heroes.

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