Santanu Hazarika on His Multi-hyphenate World as an Artist, Engineer, Businessman and World Champion Doodle Artist

Words by Josh Jones
Photography by Nimish Jain

It’s hard to describe what Santanu Hazarika specifically does. If you do a quick search for him you’ll get results as varied as artist, engineer, graphic designer, businessman, tattoo artist, and champion doodle artist. Sure, he did actually win the Red Bull World Doodle Contest way back in 2014, but there is so much more to him and his output than that. Santanu himself is the first to admit describing what he does can be tricky. “I’m a visual artist!” he laughs, “I have never been able to describe what I exactly do so my answer is simple –
‘I just love to draw’. And this love for drawing has made me explore a variety of mediums – canvases, cars, leather, paper, digital, textiles even wallets and shoes.”

A self-taught artist, his work is incredibly complex and detailed, with obvious inspiration from science fiction, sexuality and religion. “My whole life I have studied science, and combined with the fact I’m from a very religious country, it was only natural that these two things would be my major influences. But at the same time I was a rebel from day one, and our country is somewhat conservative when it comes sexuality as an expression, so I was immediately drawn towards it. So you can consider these three elements to be my holy trinity.”

Santanu hails from Guwahati in northeastern India, which is somewhat cut off from the rest of the country, and an area known for its rebellious people with a passion for subcultures — especially within music. “Music is huge there and we all love heavy metal, punk, rap and old school rock & roll,” Santanu tells us. “I grew up listening to bands like Death, Pantera, Iron Maiden, and Megadeth. Their music and especially their album covers influenced me the most. I tapped into the creative community through my love for music, I made album covers for local bands for pints of beer, and eventually I was making illustrations for almost everyone in the music scene.”

Now you’ll find him creating artwork for the country’s biggest music artists, like the rapper Raftaar and electronic artist and producer Ritviz. The artists have bonded over the love of the same bands and trust him to translate their music into a visual form with more or less total creative freedom. “We have a very similar taste in art, music and are very open to creative thinking. I can easily tap into their vision and artistry because we connect on a personal level. They send their unreleased music be it the final album or the unmastered raw recordings, and would ask for my opinion and how do I see it visually.”

The rest of 2021 is looking pretty good for Santanu, as well as branching out into creating his own fast fashion and streetwear line, he’s been working towards a solo show of his art opening in May in Mumbai. @santanu_hazarika_art