If you are among those young architects who finds sleeping on a drafting table easier than on a bed, then you would have probably read Anuj Kale’s web comics. The 28-year-old architect, based out of Pune and Nashik, has, of late, become the voice of young Indian architects caught somewhere between idealism and reality. You imagine that your client is going to pay you top dollar for your pitch, but that’s not the case. You think people know the difference between gardener and landscape architect, but that’s not quite so. You hope you’ve had your last cup of coffee for the night, but you end up with a caffeine overdose.
Kale knows your architectural angst. He puts the feeling of studying and practising architecture in India into his comics label, peculiarly called Leewardists, which should have you rummaging through your fourth standard geography textbooks. “The leeward side is where a hill or a mountain does not get much rain, wind or sunlight. It’s a metaphor for the scenario of architecture and urban design in India, and I hope to change that through my comics. When I launched my comics, I had to make five-page presentation to explain what ‘leeward’ means,” laughs Kale.
A graduate from the notable CEPT University, Ahmedabad, Kale quit a flourishing job with an MNC in Mumbai to pursue his comics passion fulltime. While he doesn’t take up projects anymore, he has been single-mindedly blending architecture with comics.
Addressing his 47,000 followers on Facebook and 27,000 followers on Instagram, Leewardists is a mix the hilarious and the informative. The face of Leewardists is hardly a superhero or an Ayn Rand-inspired character. He is a boy-next-door sporting oversized glasses and a black vest over a collared shirt. Kale calls him The Architect. He goes through college lectures, client meetings, project presentations and the naive ruminations of friends and family, with a little tongue-in-cheek humour and a dash of tongue-clucking. When will his mum start introducing him as an ‘architect’ and not ‘architecture’? Can fidget spinners become layout designs for building complexes? Such are the questions of The Architect.
“I was influenced by Mario Miranda’s cartoons and manga characters as I went about designing The Architect. He is aimed at both the people who don’t know much about architecture as well as for practising architects. He is my way for talking about architecture and cities,” says Kale. He recalls that, growing up, he took after his father, who is an architect as well. His childhood obsession for Marvel and DC comics, however, took other shapes while studying at CEPT. “There were no courses or workshops in those days to teach comics, so I just practised on my own,” says Kale.
If Kale wishes there had been comics classes during his younger days, there is good news for those who want to have a go at making comics and also learn how to use the medium in architecture practice.
On July 8 and 9, Architails, a platform for city explorers, will host Kale for an intensive two day workshop at Springfields Restaurant in Borivali. Over the course of that weekend, Kale will take participants through the basics of comics creation, including developing characters and the use of fonts. He will also share notes on how architects can use the medium creatively.