Art
A freelance illustrator from Hyderabad, Sri Priyatham says he was shortlisted after the streaming giant happened to chance upon his profile on Instagram.

Season 3 of Stranger Things, the popular American Netflix web series, is all set to premiere in July. A science fiction series with horror elements, the first two seasons of Stranger Things had kept fans on the edge of their seats with the story of Will Byres, a boy trapped in the “upside down”, set in the 1980s in a fictional town in Indiana.

Netflix, as part of their Global Artist Outreach programme, had artists from around the world creating illustrations based on their interpretations from season 1 and 2. Out of the 16 artists shortlisted by Netflix, Sri Priyatham, a popular illustrator from Hyderabad, was the only one from India. He drew Hopper from episode 5 of season 2 as part of the season three promo.

Speaking to TNM, Sri Priyatham says that the call from Netflix was unexpected and that he was shortlisted after the streaming giant happened to chance upon his profile on Instagram.

“Though the promo happened as part of the Global Outreach programme, it wasn’t any sort of contest where artists could send in their entries. I still don’t have a clue about how Netflix happened to come across my Instagram profile and I was surprised when the company commissioned me to work on their season 3 promo,” Sri Priyatham shares.

A self-taught artist, Sri Priyatham is a well-known face in the artistic circles in Hyderabad. A majority of his creations are drawn using graphite. His digital artwork retains the same textural qualities and techniques as his traditional ones.

Art is his passion and Sri Priyatham says he would have become nothing in life if not an illustrator.

“I was quite clear about my career. I charted out my career option right when I was in school. I was a fan of Cartoon Network from the 90s. I knew what I did not want to do and wanted to be better at what I was good at,” he adds.

Talking about working with Netflix, Sri Priyatham explains, “It was an exclusive project for Netflix. They hired 16 artists to create recap illustrations from season 2. I have been a fan of Stranger Things but wouldn’t have thought of creating an illustration until Netflix approached me. I had to watch each episode a couple of times and create a gist to identify what could be the crucial elements in my drawing.”

Titled ‘Freezing Reality in a Frame’, Sri Priyatham’s sketch featured Hopper, the Hawkins chief of police and one of the central characters in season 2, trying to climb down into an underground tunnel that is filled with floating Upside Down particles. The tentacles wrap around his body encasing all but his face, while the door to the outside world closes.

“I was allotted episode 5 from season 2 called ‘Dig Dug’. It was indeed a challenge to capture the entire gist of an episode in one illustration tying all the threads together. But it was fun jumping out of my comfort zone and challenging my skills. It was totally worth it and the liberty the creative team gave the artists felt good,” Sri Priyatham says.

The illustration shows Hopper trapped entirely by the Vines in the “upside down” which fades out into the scribbles, the map of Hawkins drawn by Will Byers.

“Hopper is one of the main characters in the series who is untrapped and follows the course of happenings in the season. He gets trapped in the upside down world, the major theme in the series. So he was the perfect character that could represent everything that Stranger Things was,” Sri Priyatham adds.

The third season of Stranger Things, consisting of eight episodes, will be released worldwide on Netflix on July 4.