What you are about to read is an excerpt of Urban-Muse Magazine Issue #1, currently available as part of $5 pledge on Patreon.com. Over the next 2 months we will gradually be releasing all 20 interviews on the blog. If you want to read all the features, see the specific layouts/images chosen, read additional articles that will not be on the blog, view the images in High Res Lossless Quality, and support the project ensuring future issues can be made. Please consider supporting the Urban-Muse Magazine Patreon here:
I think it wouldn’t be an over exaggeration to state this, but I think that each artist that is profiled in this issue is probably a genius, meaning that if you were to give them an IQ test they would all probably score very highly, in differing areas of expertise. Nowhere was this more apparent than after talking to Nehaal Gonsalves, while I was reading his responses I was just struck by how intelligent he was. Not only were his answers analytical, constructive and well thought out, he really didn’t have any typos at all. The only one I caught was he called “Paint Tool Sai,” “Pain Tool Sai.” I thought that was probably more of a funny Freudian slip.
No two artists in this issue are the same and each usually has a different “day job” while a few are even able to support themselves completely by their art. Nehaal Gonsalves does art for a hobby, during the day he’s an Architect at Amit & Associates in Goa India. In my entire life I never had met an Architect Artist, but it does seem like there would be some direct corollaries and overlap, for instance the precise, exacting, and analytical nature of the work, along with the the tremendous patience and practice each takes.
My first impression about Nehaal was that he was another full time artist and he spends his days doing nothing but art, it turns out that’s not the case at all, he’s basically just doing these pieces after work to relax. Recently Nehaal’s work has been so amazing it’s been transformed into “clickbait” he was featured on the Business Publication “Business Insider,” a magazine that focuses more on stock prices and tech company CEO profiles rather than art. Everyone loves to post his art along with a caption saying something like “CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS IS NOT A PHOTO!?” In fact during the writing of this issue he was featured yet again on a major clickbait type site, this time Buzzfeed for his Kendall Jenner photorealistic piece. Nehaal is winning the art game, and he’s not even trying.
Some people when they see people like this they get discouraged and throw their hands up in surrender. “I can’t even draw a stick figure” is probably the most common response. But don’t be discouraged, Urban-Muse and Nehaal are here to help! Below Nehaal has some great tips. Maybe he can inspire you to push yourself to the next level. That’s the goal of Urban-Muse to Inspire people, and Nehaal Gonsalves is certainly one inspiring dude.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re an Indian artist working in Goa India. What can you tell us about being an artist in India that the Urban-Muse readers might not know, describe your life.
Nehaal Gonsalves: I wouldn’t quite know how to compare it to anywhere else, I’ve been living in India my whole life. Though from my few experiences abroad I’ve noticed a couple of things. Whenever I go out to sketch or happen to whip out my sketch book in public over here I mostly have a few people who stop and look at what I’m up to, often making a little group around me, it’s really quite sweet most times to have people around you interested in your stuff passing their comments. That just goes to show you, that it is’t all that common here, like to draw or paint so openly. Not to say that there aren’t people who do it, just not as many. As for Digital art, that’s a whole other ball game, I have a handful of people that I’ve met in person who actually do digital art, or know what goes into it, most other Indian artists that I know, I’ve either never met or just followed them online. I met most of them from when I was living in Mumbai, which is a metropolitan city here, but for Goa, I haven’t met another person here yet, but that could also be because I spend most of my time locked up in my room, haha.
Urban-Muse.com: What is your art process like, what tools do you use, what’s your workstation like?
Nehaal Gonsalves: Since I don’t do as many pieces as I should do because I’m so strapped for time, I generally try figuring out what I want to paint first. I work digitally with a Dell Inspiron laptop and a Wacom Intuos pro medium. So for my pieces usually look up for references first and foremost and I usually try getting the highest resolution of the images that I can find, since that saves me form trying to guess about the details, and from there it’s all just about relaxing for me. I open up the reference image in a tab side by side with my blank canvas and from then on the process is kind of what I’m feeling at that point or if I’ve seen any new methods online. I try to be as fluid with this method from piece to piece so I don’t get bored. I paint after work and don’t really have a workstation I just paint where I can. I use photoshop mainly but I’ve dabbled in Paint Tool Sai and Corel Painter, but I’m trying to expand on what I can use from there, there are just so many cool options out there and I want to learn them all.
Urban-Muse.com: Self portraits of artists are an age old tradition for many hundreds possibly even thousands of years. We’ve seen at least two wonderful self portraits of yourself. Would you care to comment on them?
Nehaal Gonsalves: Oh damn, those are just done as stylistic explorations or to try out some cool technique that I read about or saw online. Since my face is the most accessible for this in the exact positioning and lighting that I need I feel like it’s one of the best resources especially when nothing else really is just quite right. I also tend to hate the way I look like in photographs so I really just like to put up more of myself than just how I look since this has a little deeper meaning to it.
Urban-Muse.com: You’re an Architect at Amit & Associates, so it seems like Architecture is your day job, and you do art as a hobby? Please tell us more about your work and how it relates to the art you create.
Nehaal Gonsalves: Yup, I guess you could call it more of a hobby for me though I do try and take on a few commissions here and there if time permits. I moved to Goa from Mumbai in late 2015 for my job and it’s been such a blessing, my work is more focused here since I don’t have constant distractions and my job keeps me from dulling out my creativity. I work as an architect because of this, I can’t keep my focus on something if it doesn’t interest me and architecture keeps me designing as well as problem solving on a big scale. There is a fluidity between my two ‘professions’ and I keep finding links between the two which translates to the other field, so I quite enjoy that. I do a lot more studies though, but that’s mostly to wind down if I’ve had a rough or tiring day and that helps me relax without thinking too much and because I find the more that I study the less I actually know.
Urban-Muse.com: You studied at St. Xaviers College in Mumbai, I’m assuming you focused on architecture. According to another interview you actually don’t create art full time, you just do it in your spare time. Can you tell us about your time there?
Nehaal Gonsalves: I actually went to St. Xavier’s for my undergrad under the Science stream but that building and campus is one of the reasons why I am an architect today, it was built back in the colonial times and is still such a ridiculously cool building in the heart of Mumbai. I then decided to go on and try perusing architecture after a nudge from my parents and the rest is as they say history. Architecture is one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life, in all honesty I wouldn’t recommend it someone who isn’t that serious about it and I learnt that quite early on, it’s a whole new way of thinking and you sort of have to adapt to it. I’m so thankful for it though, since I met some of the most like minded people while I was in college and one of them was a fellow artist and introduced me to digital art and the graphic tablet, which I can’t imagine living without today.
Urban-Muse.com: Can you talk a bit about the importance of education to an artist? Many artists are self taught, but many more still may have gone to, or are currently going to art school. How important do you think your education was to the art you create today, even though you studied architecture?
Nehaal Gonsalves: I’m a self taught artist as well, I come from a family of artists and I’ve always been given sketchbooks with pencils to make me shut up. So I’ve been drawing from a really early age where all I wanted to do was create cool looking stuff. The more I think about it, the more this answer keeps changing really, I’ve always believed that you can learn everything yourself, especially since there are so many resources online that you pretty much learn any skill with enough effort, though I don’t rule out the advantages of a schooling system since it forces you to be disciplined and you might have some one who you can extract some really crucial knowledge from, I say might because I believe that any schooling experience for knowledge ultimately rests upon the faculty and whether they’re on the same wavelength as you or open enough to know when they aren’t and can either help you to find the path you’re looking for.
Urban-Muse.com: What would be your advice to someone who might be struggling in school, but wants to excel?
Nehaal Gonsalves: Work. There’s nothing more to it really. Don’t mistake that with over working though, burn out is real, there’s only so much your mind and body can take. But knowing your limitations comes with experience. Problem solving is another major task. You need to know when something isn’t working and be aware enough to know that it isn’t so you don’t go too far in that route, easier said than done, haha. Another huge asset and it took me ages to realise this, someone whose opinion you trust, can confide in and discuss with. The way education works here is so that an individual keeps trying to exceed by themselves, but most of my great ideas have come from collaboration, an that’s how you’re expected to work in the future, so keep a few people who you gel with and whose input your trust to discuss with and be super critical with you, it might just be that aha moment you’re looking for. Also know that your mental health is important and if you feel overwhelmed just think about the bigger picture, all this might not matter in the larger scheme of things.
Urban-Muse.com: What would be your advice to an artist who wants to improve their work and possible create art as good as yours one day?
Nehaal Gonsalves: I wouldn’t really say my art is all that good honestly, I just spend hours more on a piece than most people since I don’t have any need to rush. But if someone is looking for guidance about my process I usually try getting back to them if they know exactly what they want help with, though I don’t think I’m all that qualified to answer but I try with what I can. As for trying to create art like I do, you need patience most of all, and that’s something I’ve built up over the years, I don’t try to rush myself and I’ve doing these hyper-realism pieces at the start of the year just to push myself and to see how long I can last. There aren’t any magic brushes or shortcuts, though there are definitely easier methods and when you discover them you’ll fell like crap but at least you know two ways of doing then. There are always multiple ways to get to a final result, you just have to keep looking for them with new updates to softwares and sometimes new softwares all together.
Urban-Muse.com: Have you ever encountered extremely negative or even hateful people online commenting on your art? What did you do?
Nehaal Gonsalves: All the time haha, I think it’s just a direct result of something reaching more people, since it’s obvious that not everyone has the same way of thinking as you do they aren’t going to like the same things either. More over the pieces that I do which gain the most popularity are the more photo-real ones, where people have at least 6 different methods by which I definitely cheated and they’re convinced about it and no amount of convincing is going to change that. I used to take it really personally earlier, but at one point I reached out to Irakli Nadar (also in this issue) when my piece had gained way more attention than I ever thought it would and with that came a whole side of the internet I hadn’t experienced before and I grew really tired of trying to explain myself because that only lead to more theories. Irakli told me that he’d seen the piece and that this is just a thing that’s going to happen, and to mostly ignore them. I don’t really owe anyone any explanations I just do my own thing now and I’m getting better at dealing with it , but I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t get to me sometimes. I firmly believe that I don’t have the right to go around trying to change everyone’s opinion so I just let it slide now.
Urban-Muse.com: What would be your advice to our readers on how to deal with negative people like this?
Nehaal Gonsalves: Try understanding before reacting. I keep that in mind if I ever feel myself getting overwhelmed. Most people think that their point of view is the right one, and it might be, but if you don’t believe in it you don’t need to attack them for sharing their point of view, be aware of how things are playing out and just keep doing you if what you do makes you happy. Also know that you’re finally only answerable to yourself so as long as you believe in what your’e making keep doing that but be open to valid criticism. It’s a thin line but be humble about it.
Urban-Muse.com: About a year ago you were profiled on Business Insider, this must have been very exciting for you, tell us about what an effect this had on your online following/self confidence for the future?
Nehaal Gonsalves: It was the most surreal experience I’ve had yet. I can’t even begin to tell you how I felt at the time, It seemed to happen overnight too, so I had the most mix bag of emotions in such a short period of time. The piece got picked up all over the world by so many different sources in so many languages, I still look back at it fondly. My online following doubled on most platforms, though I had never intended for the piece to be for any such thing. I just shared it on my facebook and instagram because I was happy with it. My confidence actually took a hit funnily enough, I kept thinking that everyone comment I got was true and as it grew so did the negativity surrounding it. I kept wondering if this is where I peak and that I can never do something like this again, but after a few days I came to terms with it and slowly started to accept what was happening and just try and take the positives from it and use this like a learning experience.
Urban-Muse.com: What are your other plans for the future?
Nehaal Gonsalves: I try not to think too far ahead, I just take it as it comes, from piece to piece and day to day. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone though, it’s just how I see things at this point. I still have a tonne to learn and I keep learning about something new everyday. I think it’s important to not get too overwhelmed with how insignificant you seem at times and just take on small things in small periods of time. Me personally, I’m still working on both my skills as an architect and as an artist and I’ll just keep creating whatever I can and whatever I’m in the mood to because I’d hate to be start hating either one at this point. Hopefully I keep improving and solving problems and growing as a person.
Urban-Muse.com: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us.
Nehaal Gonsalves: Not a worry at all, thanks for having me. Best of luck to everyone out there trying to do what they want to. Good luck to you as well it’s really nice what you are doing for the community.
You can follow Nehaal’s work here: