Published: 08th July 2020
The Champakulam Boat Race just got a mod makeover courtesy Jimmy Varghese's killer designs
Jimmy Varghese has redesigned the Champakulam Boat Race logo using his maximalistic graphic design in a bid to rebrand the traditional event
Every July, the Pampa river comes alive with gigantic boats zipping past each other in synchronised leaps as the boatmen chant ancient folk songs. More than 500 years old, the Champakulam Boat Race takes place on Moolam day of the Malayalam month of Midhunam to celebrate the installation of the deity at the Sree Krishna Temple in Ambalappuzha. This year, although it has been postponed due to the pandemic, one of Kerala's oldest traditions is back, with a transformation. And responsible for this re-imagination is artist Jimmy Varghese.
Jimmy Varghese hopes to add colour back into the Pampa with a brand new logo that represents the race. Currently quarantined in Delhi, Jimmy is an Art Director at the advertising firm Wieden+Kennedy. He says, "I am from Champakulam. The race used to begin right in front of my grandfather's house. Having watched it since I was a child, my biggest dream was to become a boat race captain. So, it was literally a dream come true to be able to contribute towards it like this. I've always had it in the back of my mind and I try to channel the energy of it in everything I do."
FLOAT ON:Jimmy's work has come to be associated with a certain attitude
Jimmy's work has come to be associated with a certain attitude. He describes it as maximalist art coupled with information overload. Following the Nehru Trophy Race of 2019, the Boat Club President called Jimmy, asking for a brand new logo to represent the race. Jimmy decided to play with the letters. In Malayalam, the word Champakulam begins with the letter 'cha' which is shaped exactly like the boats used for the races. Inspired by this, Jimmy's design was the shape of the boat itself.
About the process, the 28-year-old says, "When you do Indian designs, it's always seen as primitive. When I am trusted with such work, I try to think about how it will be conveyed. There is a sense of resistance that international artists use that I want to bring into my work. When the audience looks at something that is Indian, it is their curiosity that attracts them more than the work itself. For them, our work is just generally labelled 'exotic'. I don't want to alienate the global audience. It could be a small village in Alappuzha that I'm representing but I'd want the world to see exactly how cool it is. So, the design I made tries to represent the beauty of the race graphically."
In his own words, Jimmy is on a relentless pursuit against visual pollution. His design philosophy is that everything doesn't need to look beautiful, adding a dash of raw colour to everything he creates. Currently, he is working on a number of new art projects. Recently, he has been working with Cards for Hope, greeting cards designed by a group of women from Mumbai who donate the funds raised to support the fight against COVID-19. He is also collaborating with Delhi-based fashion brand Capsule with a few of his designs.