“If people like your work it does not mean they like you; don’t try to be a hero.” Powerful words indeed. Faisal Mohammad, founder of Garbage Bin Studios, holds these lines very dear to his heart and believes they keep him grounded.
The humility to call your work garbage when it is liked by close to 6,00,000 people is something that is the mark of an exceptional artist. Born and brought up in Saharanpur, Faisal was not allowed to draw pictures as it was forbidden in his religion. He took to drawing cartoons anyway and kept on making them, refusing to be a part of the family business.
Faisal started working at a telephone booth at the age of 14, where he earned a paltry sum of Rs. 250. From the money that he saved he bought himself a ticket to Delhi to network with people working on comic books and allied media.
The people whom he met told him to come later after working on his skills. Faisal went home and worked hard for a year and went back to Delhi. Unfortunately, this time too he was sent back but this did not deter him. He worked hard and came back again next year. He was lucky the third time. He was just 16 then.
Faisal says he had a perception that this industry was glamorous and he could earn a lot of money. But very soon his hopes were dashed. As time passed he moved his attention to animation and joined Arena Animation Studios. His work was liked by his teachers but since he didn’t have enough money to pay for some of the courses, they provided extra classes from their homes. Over time he started learning web designing as well. During this period he stayed with his friend Shah Nawaz (co-founder of Garbage Bin) in Delhi.
In 2002, Raj Comics started their studio and invited him to join. However, Faizal had his heart elsewhere; he wanted to do classic animation. He was earning around Rs. 2500/month the time. Meanwhile, Mirage studios got a project from Warner Brothers for Da Jammies, and Faisal joined them as they were offering a significantly higher package of 14,000/per month. But after the project was over it was back to square one for him.
In 2006, BIT Mesra launched a course in animation. Faisal started teaching in the Noida branch and worked with them for a year-and-a-half, post which he joined AAC animation studios and started teaching there. He also got an iPhone during the same time and started developing games. One of the games — snakes and ladder got over 30,000 downloads, including 5,000 paid downloads. The success with snakes and ladders led to the birth of Geek Mentor studios, an app company, which Faisal and Shah Nawaz started in 2012.
Anna Hazare’s fast in 2011 turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Faisal. They developed the game Angry Anna in three days to capture the wave. The game was played by over a million people around the globe. They got media attention and funding offers, but weren’t ready for it. This led to a lot of stress and frustration.
In some ways it proved to be a blessing in disguise, because Faisal worked on his sketching and came up with two cartoon characters and started making comics based on them. This attracted a lot of positive feedback and thus Garbage Bin was officially started. The name Garbage Bin is inspired by Mad Magazine as the team calls itself the ‘Usual Gang of Idiots’ and their work as ‘Garbage’. One of the gags which they published went viral bringing the much desired attention to their work. Right now Garbage Bin is one of the most loved comics strip in the country, and building on its success, they have also started selling merchandise based on the characters.
Humility and appreciation
Faisal recalls an incident which never fails to spur him to continue doing what he does. “Once I was eating at a restaurant in Delhi when an NRI from Austria recognized me and gave me a hug congratulating me for my work.”
For each gag he makes, Faisal sends the first draft to some of his fans seeking their feedback and then refines it based on their reaction. This is one of the reasons their gags are loved by all.
Talking about lessons from his journey, Faisal states:
1) Stay away from religion and politics.
2) The fact that people love your work does not mean that they love you. Don’t try to hog the limelight.
3) Don’t be dependent on others try to learn all aspects of your work.
Visit Garbage Bin Studios.