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Exclusive Interview of Rahul Arya

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Rahul Arya on Times of Youth

Times of Youth: In brief, could you enlighten our readers about yourself for those who may be unaware?

Hi, I am Rahul Arya popularly known as India’s Sand Animation Artist. Currently Director of Flying Rock Studio Pvt. Ltd., a film production house. I’ve been on several TV Reality shows & 3 films other than my 500+ Sand Art Live shows globally.

Times of Youth: You have inspired many a young and old in your country today. What/who inspired you in the first place to be who you are today?

Well, My Dad is my sole inspiration whom I lost recently. My every story has a message, mostly how my dad used to see the world. I wish there will be one complete day; with nothing wrong happening. I know its a lot to wish for.

Times of Youth: Albeit you’re a trainer designer, animator and IT professional from a reputed university, what made you fall for sand artistry?

Yes, I’m an Engineer & Masters from IIT Mumbai, but my love for drawings was from my childhood, when we used to draw friendship day greetings for our friends. During childhood, I used to love our first Alto car & Enjoy cleaning it. When car is filled with dust I used to scribble the sand  on windshield with fingers. That’s how it all started.

Times of Youth: Despite sand art being a rather unexplored career option in today’s times, you had the courage to venture into it with extraordinary gusto. When and how did you aspire to achieve all this? What helped you the most in the long run?

Well, I started doing professional Sand Art since 2007, but my major breakthrough was when I won ‘Entertainment ke liye Kuch bhi Karega’, a SONY TV show, post which my association with Wizcraft built stronger. In our society Event Industry was considered lower, as being Doctor, Engineer & IITian considered more reputed. I had to go through a difficult time to convince all & give my 100% dedication to what I believe in; regardless of fear of success/failure.
“When your loss is big, then your success will be bigger” is something I say and uphold.

Times of Youth: Your perfectionist approach towards the intricacies of sand art has won you several national and international accolades and attracted sizeable media attention. How does that make you feel?

Am not exaggerating, in all honesty I never made anything to attain attention. I’ve always said and worked for what I myself believe in. for eg. In my Nepal Tribute video, I’ve asked people to donate when I myself have donated & I’ve visited Nepal & felt the pain of actual victims. I’ve got several awards including Best Film from Carnegie, USA & from Film Division of India & few more. It makes me feel proud but also gives a responsibility that my message should convey both sides of the story. For eg. My Peshawar Attack Tribute has got humongous success with lakhs of views, even when India & Pakistan were not in good terms, but people in pakistan have welcomed a small Sand Art Tribute with open arms; as titled ”Indian Artist Tribute to Pakistan”. Hence, If you genuinely believe in your work, it will connect to the audiences heart.

Times of Youth: We hear about your marvellous work for several films like ‘Zainab’, ‘Mitti Na Pharol Jogiya’ etc. has been winning many hearts including that of prominent movie stars and common public alike. Would you please elaborate on the lucrativeness of the concept of sand art in films for us?

Sand Art in films like Ormayundo Ee Mukham, MNPJ & Zainab are more of fun as well as difficult than a Live Event.

Reason 1- You get to learn while working with the stars like Jimmy Shergill, Anurag Basu, Vineeth Srinivasan & more. A little bit of excitement and anxiety comes naturally. But slowly I’m improving myself.

Reason 2- When you see you name on film credits & audience applauding your work coming on the big screen, while sitting next to them quietly. It’s a feeling of butterflies in the stomach, can’t explain in words.

Times of Youth: What was the idea behind naming your studio ‘Flying Rock’?

If you look closely, Earth is a flying rock in our galactic space. And so are all the planets & their moons, which are actually rocks flying in our Universe. It all came from that idea.

Times of Youth: Being a part of Flying Rock studio, which is an agency on par with international standards, please share with us your biggest achievement so far.

Flying Rock Studio was credited in a full feature length Bollywood film in just 3 months of its inception.

Times of Youth: Since sometime now, you have been into creating a benchmark in the field of sand based artistry by being the first one of its kind in a country like India where talent abounds. How has been the overall experience?

I don’t want any other artist to go through the difficulty of learning Arts, as I had been through. Hence, I’m actively taking workshops & online tutorials for Sand Art from last 7 years.

Times of Youth: If not a sand artist, what would you have been career wise?

Although I’m an Computer Engineer & IITian, I would love to be a drawing teacher in a primary school.

Times of Youth: ‘Rare is here’ is another concept we see you propagating these days. What do you exactly mean by it and why call it ‘rare’ if its ‘here’ at our fingertips now?

It is a new venture; dedicated only to showcase unique art forms. People are thriving for out of the box ideas & we serve to search for rare artworks. You’ll see a lot more at our official website.

Times of Youth: Currently as a upcoming yet already prominent entertainment professional of your nation, what are your endeavors in this field?

I’ve won a few awards, nominated twice as Most Innovative Artist & performed with majors like Mr. Sachin Tendulkar’s Retirement, Mr. Shahrukh Khan’s Kidzania Launch, John Abraham, TV show India’s Raw Star with Honey Singh & many more, which has given me a reputed name. I feel I’ve got more then what I deserve, so I try to give away whatever I can to the society via films or charity.

Times of Youth: What, in your eyes, are more easier to tackle- films or ads?

Ads. If you can convey your message beautifully in 30 sec ad film, you’ll connect more people faster. “When your work can communicate, no piece of paper is required to prove.”

Times of Youth: In the wake of how popular you have become by your incessant adventurous approach to sand artistry, what is your ultimate dream now at the end of it all?

Its ambitious, but I want to have my own Art & Travel show. I’ll still continue directing ads.

Times of Youth: Which experience would you say has been most memorable of all?

When Sachin Tendulkar called me by name. When your idol knows you by name there’s nothing more important than this. I was born in when Sachin started playing for India.

Times of Youth: What has been your biggest moment of pride?

When Shahrukh Khan applauded for me on my Live Sand Art Tribute.

Times of Youth: How has your family been handling your success filled journey?

It is always a huge support from family and friends, especially my brother. They’ve shielded me from few responsibilities, when I was working for TV shows or events. They are always happy with my TV appearances & success, only annoyed with my refusal on getting married for now.

Times of Youth: Do tell us one incident that totally changed your life/perspective.

When I lost my father few months back. It made me realise- money, fame, success should never be the ultimate goal. “Success is, if you can make a better world before dying, then what it was when you were born.” –

Times of Youth: What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following-

Sand: Hand
Design: Skills
Achievements: Happiness
Youth: Demand for Better World
Nation: Needs a lot of improvement
Life: The time between; Sand to Human, Human to Sand

Times of Youth: What makes your day? What spoils it?

When I talk to my mom, and tease her for anything, it makes me smile. On the other hand, When someone mistreats a person working under him in public; really annoys me.

Times of Youth: If you were given one wish, what would it be?

I would hug my dad, and say I’ve always loved you.

Times of Youth: Considering your enormous potential, we believe that you have the power to bring a rational change in the world. If given an apt chance, what would you do to make this world place a better place?

I wish we all would treat everyone (I repeat, everyone) as their loved ones.
Because we always try to understand our loved ones actions & their situation before judging them.

Times of Youth: What advice would you give to the budding generation, especially artists?

 I like to write quotes; so will try to convey my message in the same manner.
“To be a STAR in ART, you need to ‘START’. ”
“FAIL, and lose the fear of failure forever.”

Times of Youth: Any message for your fans and followers via Times Of Youth?

“Sometimes, we have to unlearn to match up with the youth”.
“Your last failure, will not be your last failure.”

Times of Youth: Do tell us how your admirers can reach you to share their appreciation/queries.

Like us & get a free hug.
Visit: http://www.RahulAryaLive.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IamRahulArya
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theFRstudio
Insta: https://instagram.com/iamrahularya/

Times of Youth is an International Youth Magazine read by the youth of more than 82 countries. Times of Youth brings the latest Youth Opportunities, News, Interviews, Fully Funded Scholarships, Paid Internships, Future Stars, Rising Stars, etc. For further details you can email us at: [email protected]

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Featured Interviews

Exclusive Interview of Mike Moats- Award Winning Macro Photographer

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Mike Moats on Times of Youth
 
“Spend as many hours as you possibly can honing your craft, and get online and participate on as many sites as you can find on photography.  Start a blog giving helpful tips about photography and build a following.”

Times of Youth: For those who don’t know about you and your work, can you tell us a little about yourself?  

Mike Moats: I am a full time pro macro nature photographers and live in Southeast Michigan, USA. I started with used equipment purchased off of ebay back in 2001, and it became a full time business by 2006. I have had my images and article published in many of the photo magazines, and my images have won local and international awards in contests. I am sponsored by Tamron and a member of the Tamron Image Masters group.

Times of Youth: What does photography mean to Mike Moats? 

Well it means being able to pay my bills, but more importantly it gets me outdoors where I love to be.

Times of Youth: Who are your favorite classic photographers, and how did they influence your career path?  

When I decided I wanted to take up photography in 2001, I went to the local bookstore and checked out the photo books.  I saw a book by John Shaw on nature photography and one by Art Wolfe, and those were the photographers that inspired

Times of Youth: As a macro photographer, which aspect is the most important to capture images creatively?

I’m always trying to come up with a different view, or framing of a subject, something that is different from what everyone is doing.  I’m always searching for subjects that are not being shot by everyone else.  To many macro photographers only shoot flowers and bugs, and forget there are many other great subjects to shoot.

Mike Moats on Times of Youth

Times of Youth: Nature, doubtlessly, intrigues. What is it about nature that lures you the most? 

Would you consider choosing human subjects for your macro photography in future? Mother nature creates amazing subjects that are all different and unique in their styles, shapes, contrast, textures, colors.  Photographing humans are of no interest to me, but who knows someday I may change my mind.

Times of Youth: Are there any special scenic geographical locations that you prefer to shoot at? 

Since I don’t shoot landscapes, scenics are not my objective, but I do like to refer to my macro photography as tiny landscapes. The type of environments I like to shoot my macro photography in would be wooded areas and areas with water, like ponds and swamps.

Times of Youth: Besides being a nature macro specialist, are there any other areas of photography that interest you? 

I started out as a landscape photographers but after three years I realized my passion was in macro photography, so I dedicate all my time to macro, and never shoot any other styles of photography, and no other styles of photography interests me.

Times of Youth: Your work has intrigued many people and filled their lives with beauty. Your comments?  

I love to share my work and am very honored when I have people that would like to purchase my work to hang in their homes. It’s always fun when you show people intimate details from nature that they have never seen before, and watch them get excited.

Times of Youth: Of all the places you’ve been to for your photography expeditions and workshops, which has been the most memorable? 

The local parks where I live hold the best memories, because most of my best images come from those parks.  I can remember each image I’ve shot at those parks, and exactly where in those parks I shot them.

Times of Youth: What is your idea of a perfect picture?  

I created what I call a two subject composition which has been the images that have won all my awards in contests or have been my best seller to the public.  It’s a simple concept of having an interesting main subject on top of an interesting background subject.  I shoot  with both subjects in full focus. Very simple composition that works very well.

Times of Youth: Tell us about your books, especially ‘Tiny Landscapes’. What do your books offer and what has been their consequent impact on the audiences? 

The Tiny Landscapes book shows many of the different types of subjects there are to shoot in nature and also some insight into the environment where I found the subject, some info on my composition, and what f/stop I chose for depth of field. I also have an e-book called, Creating Art With Macro, and that is more on the how-to teaching about macro photography.

Times of Youth: Among your works, which one is your personal favorite? Why? 

I have an image of a beautiful green fern growing over top of a black charred tree trunk that was lying on the ground.  It has won me more awards and more honors than any other image I’ve shot.  The other significance of this mage is it was shot during the time when I started to really grasp macro photography and started to produce good quality images.  That was about three years after I started photography.
Times of Youth: You have been published by several iconic publishers in the the stream of photography. Has there been any accomplishment that you are especially proud of? 

I am not a good writer, and in high school was lucky to get Ds in English, so I was the proudest of my very first article in 2005 that was published by Outdoor Photographer Magazine. Happily many more came after that first one.
Times of Youth: Having won several awards in your field, you continue your magnificent work successfully. Which has been your most unforgettable moment of all? 

It was the very first image I had published in 2004 in Outdoor Photographer Magazine.  I was so excited that I called everyone I knew, and told everyone on the internet about my accomplishment.  That was very special day and very honored that I produced an image worthy of being accepted by a major photo magazine.  It sure fueled the fire for my photography.

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you read the following- 

1. Camera: Nikon
2. Macro: Small details in nature.
3. Beauty: Macro subjects.
4. Love: Creating art with a camera.
5. Life: Live as much as you can in the outdoors.

Rapid fire:

  1. What cameras do you work with? Nikon D7000.
  2. If you had to choose one lens which one would it be? Tamron 16-300.
  3. What is your favorite photography accessory, other than your camera? A diffuser.
  4. How would you describe your style? Creative Macro
  5. What is your most used image editing software, tool, plug-in, action set etc.? I use Photoshop Elements, Nik Software, Topaz Software, and Smart Photo Editor.

Times of Youth: One of today’s main discussion points amongst photographers is about the use of digital photography and computer softwares to beautify the clicks; what is the influence of digitalization on your photography? 

I love that the post processing gives us so many creative options to enhance our images. Photography now has to stages, the creation of the images, and the enhancements through the post processing.

Times of Youth: How is the market for macro imagery in these current times of extreme digitalization?  

It’s great for selling to people interested in fine art photography for their homes, but as for stock photographers, I have no idea as I don’t participate in that area.

Times of Youth: Marketing and self promotion is crucial to photographers as other businesses. What is your ultimate strategy to capture the audiences? 

My business would not exist if it wasn’t for the internet.  Before the internet the only way you became know as a nature photographer was by having a book published and on a bookstore shelf, or you did a lot of writing for the photo mags.  Now you can become very well known by being out there on all the photo sites, writing blog posts, posting on all the media sites, Facebook, google+, twitter, etc.

Times of Youth: What do you think is the biggest obstacle for established professionals like yourself to remain successful in today’s times? 

One obstacle is that everyone that owns a camera now wants to sell their work or teach, and that cuts into everyone’s business. So you have to be always improving your skills and images, and staying very active online.  I’m online 365 days a year keeping my name out there.

Times of Youth: What advice would you have for those youngsters via TIMES OF YOUTH who dream to be photographers as prolific as you? 

Spend as many hours as you possibly can honing your craft, and get online and participate on as many sites as you can find on photography.  Start a blog giving helpful tips about photography and build a following.

Times of Youth: Do tell us how your fans can contact you to share their appreciation/feedback/suggestions. 

Contact me at [email protected]  My website is www.tinylandscapes.com, my blog is www.MikeMoatsBlog.com and my storefront is www.macrostoreonline.com.  Look me up on facebook.

Times of Youth: Any advice you’d give to aspiring youngsters who want to enter movies now or in the future? 

In the book called “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell, he say those who reached the top of their craft, were found to have spent an average of 10,000 hours practicing.  Work hard and you will get rewarded.

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Candid Interview of the Mystical Photographer Thomas Dodd

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Thomas Dodd on Times of Youth
“Always follow your heart and your passion. Don’t try and guess what people want or what you think will be commercial.”
-Thomas Dodd


Times of Youth: It’s an honour to finally be getting to know you. Yet, for those of our readers who may still be unaware of your works, how would you briefly describe it?

Thomas Dodd: Thank you – it’s nice to meet you as well! I call my style of imagery “Painterly Photo Montage”. What this means is that I take a series of photographs and layer them and manipulate them in editing software (Photoshop) so that the end result looks much like a painting, but it is in fact a photograph.

Times of Youth: What does ‘art’ mean to you?

Thomas Dodd: It is an expression of that which can not expressed in language. Art to me transcends cultural boundaries and elicits emotion from it’s viewers regardless of the intended context.

Times of Youth: We have seen your works and most of them are more of mystical. What makes your imagination psychologically intriguing?

Thomas Dodd: I have always found a connection between the realm of the “spiritual”/mythic and psychological states of consciousness. I think that the best art (and certainly the art that I am influenced by) draws upon these archetypes and invokes them in the psyche of the viewer.

Times of Youth: Most of your muses are nude women. Any specific reason for this choice?

Thomas Dodd: I consider the female form to be the most beautiful thing in creation (and of course, females are quite literally the creators of life as well). If you look at the history of Art, you will see that I am not alone in this assessment!

Times of Youth: What/who has been your ideal all along your colorful yet ‘Gothic’ journey?

Thomas Dodd: I think there have been many “ideals” along the way. I think really all of the artists, musicians and photographers who have influenced me have all set ideals for me to follow. There is a famous quote by Isaac Newton that sums it up perfectly- “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants”.

Times of Youth: How does your family react to your works, considering they are so offbeat?

Thomas Dodd: Well, I was actually influenced by all of the art books that my mom and dad used to have in the house when I was a child, so my family sees the link between them and my work. My father unfortunately did not live long enough to see my success as an artist but my mother, who is a very healthy 94 years old absolutely loves my art and is proud of me. In fact, she has attended several of my art openings, proudly displays my book on her coffee table and thinks my nudes are very tasteful and elegant.

Times of Youth: What has been your proudest achievement so far?

Thomas Dodd: My first show in New York City (in October of 2014) was one of them. Having my work acquired by the New Britain museum of American Art was another high point as well!

Times of Youth: We hear you were a harpist and have composed for many albums, too. And now that you are an internationally acclaimed visual artist, which one of these two careers has been more satisfying to you comparatively?

Thomas Dodd: John Cale once said that “the problem with music is that you have to play it with other people” and although it was a humorous comment, I concur that being in a musical group can be a frustrating experience because if one person is not as into it as the others, then everyone’s career suffers. What I like about photography is that I get to collaborate with other people, but we don’t really have to depend on each other in the long run. I work with a model and then we both move on to working with other people. I have a show at one gallery and then I move to another, and they have another artist the next month. So art fulfils both my solitary nature and my collaborative nature and ultimately there is really no need to be competitive with anyone else, because there are more than enough opportunities for many, many people to experience.

Times of Youth: Since the start of your career so far, have you encountered any particular incident that literally changed your entire life/perspective?

Thomas Dodd: My life perspective was profoundly changed by a job I had (before I became a full time artist) where I worked with people with disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. From them I learned the importance of living in the present moment and of the indomitable nature of the human spirit. I never heard any of them complain about their situations or anything else for that matter. That attitude was infectious and made me realize that life doesn’t really give us anything that we can’t handle, no matter how difficult we may perceive it to be from the outside.

Times of Youth: Since nowadays everything is more and more digitalized, including paintings, what do you think are future prospects for old style artistry?

Thomas Dodd: I think it will never go away. There is a huge contingent of representational painters that I am aligned with and they are all very much keeping the ancient art of painting alive. There are also many photographers who use film or even older methods (such as tintype) in their work. Technology will always inspire a reaction for some people to return to traditional methods (or reinvent them in the process) and I think that is a necessary and healthy cycle of creation/innovation!

Times of Youth: You have travelled to numerous places to showcase your art. Which one has been the most memorable of all and why?

Thomas Dodd: Probably my first show in New York City because of what it represents for an artist like myself, and the fact that I was reunited with my 92 year old Godmother who I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years!

Times of Youth: What professional advice would you want to give to all the new and aspiring artists of the younger generation?

Thomas Dodd: Always follow your heart and your passion. Don’t try and guess what people want or what you think will be commercial. Do what you love and you will create your own market of people who love what you do.

Times of Youth: In life, is there any dream that you’d love to achieve before the end of your time?

Thomas Dodd: I would like to have more shows all over the world – especially Europe and Asia.

Times of Youth: Any message that you’d like to give for the youth of today via Times Of Youth?

Thomas Dodd: Never grow up- always have a sense of wonder and joy and always learn!

Times of Youth: Do tell us how your admirers can contact you to share their appreciation and suggestions.

Thomas Dodd: Best place to find me and message me is at my website- http://www.thomasdodd.com or my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/ThomasDoddPhotography

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Exclusive Interview of Dr. Bilal Philips

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Dr. Bilal Philips on Times of Youth
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My message would be to learn about Islam, apply it, and convey it. Make whatever you are doing Islamically relevant, a means of Ibadah for yourself, so that you can succeed in this life and in the next.
-Dr. Bilal Philips

Times of Youth: Tell us a little about your background and your research. How did you get interested to preach Islam?

Dr. Bilal Philips:
My preaching, promoting and propagating Islam activities started with my conversion to Islam. Naturally, any new convert is driven to want to share Islam with those around them. With your parents, your brothers and sisters, your other family members, your neighbors and your friends. You could say that was my basic drive to want to share, propagate, and promote Islam.

I immediately began to seek knowledge, from the time that I first entered Islam in 1972. I sought to understand Islam more in depth, because the more I could understand, the better I could explain it to others. Within the first year, I quickly ran out of local sources for Islamic learning in Toronto, Canada, and I decided to go overseas to Saudi Arabia to study there. While studying there I used to come home in during the summers, to Canada and to the USA in order to share what I learned.  After graduation from Madeenah University in 1980, I went to Riyadh and started my Masters there and at the same time became a High School teacher of Islamic Studies. This became the new arena in which I became engaged in propagating Islam to Muslim youths.  During this period I was also forced into writing. I wasn’t originally a writer but I used to read a lot. However, when I started to teach Islamic Studies, I found that there were no Islamic studies textbooks available in English, so I had to create something. I began the process of preparing material based on my studies in Madeenah which I would teach from. The students used my notes as texts from which they could revise for their tests and exams. With the help of my parents, father in particular who was an English language expert, I soon developed effective writing skills. My parents guided me, and taught me, not only how to write, but also teaching methodology and classroom management.

My high school career lasted for over 10 years during which I completed my Masters and began a PhD in Islamic Theology from the University of Wales, UK. After completion of my doctorate in 1993, I moved to the UAE where I became a University professor in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the American University in Dubai. Naturally, the university became another avenue for propagation and promotion of Islam to young adults. In UAE, I also set up the first Da’wah Center for propagating Islam to non-Muslims in Dubai, The Islamic Information Center. Through that avenue I was full-time actively involved in teaching, preaching, and promoting Islam and thousands accepted Islam from the Center over the subsequent years. I also became the head of Darul Fatah’s English press and published a number of my books through them. In 2001, I developed a department of Islamic studies at Preston University, Ajman, to further preach and teach Islam from an educational institution. A few years later, after moving to Qatar where I was a consultant for a Da’wah Center, I again moved to Chennai, India where in 2009 I set up my own University, Preston International College, and Al Fajr International School. These were additional channels for promoting, propagating and preaching Islam. In 2010, I took my boldest step to preach Islam globally by setting up the Islamic Online University (IOU), which now has over 2,00,000 students from 225 countries of the world. The IOU has the most diverse student body of any university in the world; a unique platform from which I continue my preaching, teaching and Islamic propagational efforts. That is where I am today.

I was also given the opportunity to propagate Islam through the television, in Saudi Arabia Channel 2. I did a program there called “Why Islam?” in which I focused on the new Muslims. I had different new Muslims each episode who described their journey to Islam and focusing on the turning point. I would use that as a means of inviting non Muslims who would be watching the program who may share common backgrounds to want to share the message of Islam. In UAE, I was invited to do 3 programs a week, on Sharjah television. All of them da’wah oriented, some of them question and answer types. One related to the Quran in particular, and the other one related to contemporary issues. Of course, a lot of people know me through Peace TV, so this is the channel I also utilize, as well as Islam channel in the UK, Guide US TV in the US, etc.

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