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Interview with portrait artist, Thakur Akhilesh Singh

Interview with portrait artist, Thakur Akhilesh Singh

Interview with Thakur Akhilesh Singh

Thakur Akhilesh Singh is a young artist from Hyderabad who creates vivid pencil and charcoal sketches. From landscapes to portraits, he covers a wide range of subjects for his sketches. He believes that no one is born with an inert talent, but with passion and hardwork you can achieve anything you dream of.

Let’s read more to find out what inspires Akhilesh to create these beautiful sketches.

Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?
Right from when I was young, I used to be praised for my artwork and told that I’m gifted with a  special talent. But, I refuse to believe that. My only gift is the passion that I have and I view my artistic abilities as a skill that I acquired over years.

Art made me realise what I’m truly capable of. Art helps us discover ourselves better. I will carry art with me forever.

Your sketches are so life-like, What inspires you to do these?
I have been sketching since I was a 4 year old kid. As I grew older, my interest only frew deeper. 

I had no clue about any drawing or sketching techniques when I started out. I used to learn by trial-and-error methods. However, I found my niche by experimenting with different media, this fuels my motivation and inspires me to get better. The key is to discover yourself, motivate yourself and then unleash your true potential.

Can you run us through your thought process while creating art?

I love exploring and working with different media. Depending on the kind of medium that I use, I decide the subject of my artwork. For instance, If I work with colour pencils or graphite pencils I usually draw hyperrealistic portraits and when I use charcoal, I usually try to sketch a subject with dark contrast. 

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

 I consider myself to be very lucky as everyone around me has been extremely supportive, be it my family or friends. My teachers have also encouraged me and guided me, but never criticised. 

If my work is criticised in the future, I’m sure I’ll take it in good spirit and work on it.

How has your perception changed after sketching for such a long time?

Initially, sketching for me was just a way to kill my time. As a kid, when I had no studies and absolutely nothing to do, I would take a book and start sketching. But over the years, art has made me realize a lot of things in life.

It has helped me become a better version of myself. Art has taught me to not give up no matter how big the failure is. Art is not just self-expression, but an experience and a never ending process of learning.

How do you deal with creative blocks?

I think every artist faces creative blocks, and it is very important to experience because it helps you to adapt to it and then find a solution to overcome this. I face creative blocks often mainly because of my hectic academic schedule due to which I can’t devote much time to art. 

Being highly realistic and reminding yourself about your goals help me in overcoming creative blocks.

If you had to name one person to draw up all the inspiration from, who would that be?

Leonardo Da Vinci. He was not only the greatest artist of all time but also a great scientist. He was a reserved and withdrawn man, not concerned with glory, and yet absolutely sure of  his abilities. I’m highly passionate about science, art and music and a lot of other things just like Leonardo Da Vinci was. This is the reason why I draw my inspiration from Leonardo Da Vinci.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

Explore, explore, explore. Do not hesitate to move out of your comfort zone. Do not think of the result, rather focus more on the process and have faith in yourself and what you do. Never think less of yourself, because you can literally be or do anything you want in life. Keep failing, falling but just don’t give up. Everything in life is a matter of choice. Be Grateful.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

To be honest, this is the first time ever that I’m expressing myself and my artwork to a larger audience. I’m really thankful to stoned Santa for this beautiful initiative, of helping young and budding artists like me and providing them with a platform to express themselves and connect with other great artists and inspire other people. 

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Exploring the art of Mandalas with Swathi Kirthyvasan

Exploring the art of Mandalas with Swathi Kirthyvasan

Exploring the art of Mandalas with Swathi Kirthyvasan

Swathi Kirthyvasan is a UX-UI designer by the day and a mandala artist by the night, hailing from Hyderabad. She creates vivid and mesmerising mandalas that can satisfy the OCD in all of us. She believes that art is meditative and can induce mindfulness in all of us.

Read further to learn more about her work and what inspires her to create the stunning and luminous mandalas.

What is your definition of art?

Art is anything that helps me escape from the real world where I can have fun, paint and go crazy. It is also extremely therapeutic.

Do you practise art full time?

I am a UX-UI designer by the day at a startup in Hyderabad. I practise art in my free time. Although both my career and hobby are in the creative field, they are very different.

How were you drawn towards mandalas?

During my college days, I stumbled upon the front page of a magazine called Creative Gaga, which had a mandala drawn on it. Back then, I wasn’t aware that it was called a ‘Mandala’. I was instantly captivated by the design and the artform that I started trying out on my own. It was only after a friend told me that it was mandala, that I started researching about how beautiful and spiritual the art form is.

Do you believe that mandalas should have some element of free flow rather than perfect symmetry?

 It can be absolutely free flowing and need not be restricted to a grid or mathematical circles. You can always learn the rules and be free to break them. Mandala is an expression of how you feel, it can take any form or shape as long as you are enjoying the process of creation.

Which other artforms do you enjoy creating?

I like experimenting with watercolor florals, lettering and any form of abstract art.

What can one learn from your Workshops?

I conduct doodling and mandala workshops. I teach them how to draw the basic patterns, what materials to use, how to get inspired and give many references to try it on by themselves. It’s wonderful to see many participants come back with new work after attending the workshop.

Could you name a few artists that you get inspired by?

I cannot pick one or two artists as the art community as a whole is very inspiring. There are so many talented artists whom I follow who create beautiful mandalas, breathtaking landscape paintings and florals. Each artist has their own creative spark and I like to see how each of them interpret things differently.

Plans for the coming years?

I plan on taking up more commissioned projects along with conducting workshops. I am also planning on starting my own line of merchandise.

Do you connect with mandalas on a spiritual level?

I might not connect with mandalas on a spiritual level, but it is definitely meditative. It helps you shut yourself from the outside world and focus on just the art.

Advice to budding artists?

Draw your hearts out. Do it for the sheer fun of it. You should do it for the joy you get while making a piece rather than doing it for numbers and fame.

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Meet Marzia Ali, an artist and entrepreneur

Meet Marzia Ali, an artist and entrepreneur

Interview with Marzia ali, an artist and entrepreneur

Marzia Ali is a versatile artist based in Hyderabad who specializes in resin, fluid, oil, space art and watercolor. She is also the founder of  –
The Duende Box “, which is the first art subscription box from India. She is known for conducting workshops all across the country to educate people and impart artistic skills. 

Here are a few excerpts from the quick chat that we had with her.

Every artist has their own definition of art. What is yours?

More often, we live in our minds than we do in the present moment, and I believe that art is an entirely different world where you can truly be yourself and live on your own terms. Art for me is a way to express freedom of the mind and soul.

Were you inclined towards art, right from your childhood or did you develop the passion over the years?

I grew up watching my mother paint. In fact, she is the one who made sure that I got involved in creative activities. Over the years, I tried my hands on different media and found my forte to lie in resin and fluid art.

How did you come up with the idea of – The Duende Box? How has the journey been?

The idea of Duende Box popped up when I realized that there’s not a single art subscription box service in India. Having been raised with the idea of – “If you don’t find something you need, be the first to innovate it”, I started it.

I began to collaborate with brands that produce art supplies in India and artists. As my business grew, I also launched my own products. Over the years, I have been approached by other companies to launch their art supplies. 

A good understanding of the market and my passion, had led to Duende box becoming the largest subscription box chain of India, and I aim to make it the largest subscription box in the world.

The journey so far has been amazing. I have learned so much and met so many talented people who have given me an in-depth knowledge about the e-commerce industry and subscription boxes. 

Can you name some of the artists whom you look up to?

My mother and then comes Maliha Abbas, a prominent activist and an artist. She has inspired me in many ways and has helped me in becoming what I am today.

I am also deeply inspired by the amazing metaphysical artist Tanya Shatseva, she is one of the artists who beautifully strikes out the balance between science, metaphysics, mythology, and art.

What can one expect from your art workshops?

Workshops are a great way to network with fellow artists and get to know the latest trends in the field of art.  Be it Resin art , watercolor or alcohol ink workshops, one will get to experience art in a different way and learn the art form in detail. 

The instructors are always available to guide and answer the questions.  We also conceptualize new ideas to make the experience memorable, for instance we conduct paint parties. 

We ensure that even a participant who has no knowledge about the artwork will walk out confidently and will be able to create art by themselves in the future. 

What exciting plans do you have in the coming  years?

Honestly, the list is really too long. But few major plans that I am currently working on are, starting a few more subscription boxes which would eventually serve people in different fields. I also plan on starting a personal art gallery in a few upcoming years. Along with it, I’ve been working on creating a definite brand for eco-friendly art supplies.

If you were to learn another art form, what would it be?

I would definitely get into sculptors and pottery. These two art forms attract me the most and I have been trying to get my hands on it for a really long time. 

Throughout your journey, who has been your biggest support?

My parents have been a constant support throughout the journey; My uncle and my Grandmother who pushed me to do the things that I love; My best friends, Sharmila and Bushra, I call them the backbone of all my events as they’ve played the biggest part in all the successful events. 

Hamad Jowher, my mentor has been extremely kind when it comes to helping me with my business. My teachers have always been positive about my future. Last but not the least, my Instagram Fam who have always appreciated me for my work

What advice would you give to the budding artists?

Always accept challenges and opportunities, don’t even miss the smallest one, you never know if that is the key you’ve always been looking for! And the day you reach the top, remember to appreciate and be grateful to the people who have always supported you in your journey and lift the ones who are trying to get the key.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

If someone’s looking for some personal touch gifting ideas then their search ends here. I really love the gifting solutions that Stoned Santa offers, and the way this team has been trying to be a way for artists to communicate with the world.  I would recommend each one of you to definitely gift your loved ones with their customized string art, which I love the most. 

Looking for the perfect gift?

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Personalize your gifts like never before. We provide handmade art and make sure we incorporate your tiny memories to create a unique gifting experience for you.

Interview with Sanjana Chatlani, founder of the Bombay Lettering Company

Interview with Sanjana Chatlani, founder of the Bombay Lettering Company

Bringing words to life with Sanjana Chatlani

Sanjana Chatlani is a calligrapher, lettering artist and an entrepreneur based in Mumbai. She brings words to life through her beautiful lettering strokes. Having discovered her passion for calligraphy and lettering, she quit her corporate job to start – ‘The Bombay Lettering Company’, which has now become a home-grown brand.  

With the strong belief that calligraphy adds a handmade and personal touch that is irreplaceable, she has succeeded to create a wide range of products, from personalised letters to corporate packaging.

Let’s read more to find out how Sanjana turned her passion into a profession

How do you define art?

Art, to me, is anything that lets me express myself. It’s about pouring all my emotions onto the paper.

How were you introduced to hand lettering and calligraphy? What made you pursue it?

I have always been fascinated by art since my childhood days, but never really pursued it. After college, I started working with LVMH, as luxury brand management was something that I wanted to do back then. 

Two years into my work, I began to experiment with different hand lettering scripts in order to write inspirational quotes in my free time. Instagram introduced me to a whole new world of lettering artists, I started exploring different styles and techniques.

Around the same time, my family had planned a vacation to California. I took this opportunity to reach out to a few lettering artists in San Francisco. To my surprise, they were very generous and agreed to share their knowledge with me.

After learning from them, I started to practice everyday for about 3-4 hours after work. Consistency and dedication helped me get my initial projects, mostly from my friends and family. Over time, I was approached by others for personalized projects. This is how I started off.

How has your entrepreneurial journey been so far? Could you tell us more about your company?

I called quits to my job in July 2018 to start this full time. The transition from an artist to an entrepreneur-cum-artist wasn’t an easy one. Initially it was very overwhelming as I had to play the role of an artist, marketeer and the delivery girl. Being an extrovert, it took time to become accustomed to working in isolation. It was challenging to strike the balance between creating art and managing business. 

However, I have a small team now and I am able to focus more on the creative side. We do a lot of things, from personalized letters, to working on projects for brands, corporates, wedding planners and individuals. Some of my clients include The Ritz Carlton, Michael Kors, Jimmy Choo, Rolex, Moet Hennessy, Zoya – A Tata product and more.

Any project that you’d like to mention?

I had the opportunity to be the calligrapher for Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’ wedding and was also asked to be present at the wedding in Jodhpur. This was a very memorable experience for me.

There was another project that was very dear to me for which I had to create a box full of handmade letters for a child who had just turned a year old so that she could read them after she grows up. I believe that calligraphy helps to bring words to life, and this project did exactly that.

What can one expect from your workshops?

I teach the introduction to pointed pen calligraphy. I make sure that they learn the basics well as that creates the foundation to build on, and I also help them understand how to use the tools as it’s the first and most important thing.

Presently, due to the quarantine, I take up one-on-one online classes for those who wish to refresh their lettering skills or want me to critique their work.

What plans do you have for your business in the coming years?

We will continue to do personalized projects and workshops. I want to focus more on our website and come up with a product line that people could choose from.

I also want to focus on conducting art therapy sessions for kids with special needs as it has given wonderful results in the past.

Could you throw some light on how art can be therapeutic?

At times we get so involved in getting the stroke correctly that we forget to breathe. Practicing a breathing pattern with every upward and downward stroke that you do is very relaxing and meditative.

Over the past 3 years, calligraphy has induced calmness in me. Calligraphy can also help kids with special needs to relax their mind. So, calligraphy and lettering are definitely therapeutic.

Who are the artists that you admire?

I look up to many calligraphers and artists who inspire me immensely. My teacher and mentor Barbara Calzolari, an Italian Master Penman, is one of my biggest inspirations. I have been trained under her to learn Copperplate calligraphy and Spencerian. 

I am also training under Achyut Palav, an Indian master calligrapher since 40 years and the most renowned in the country. He is teaching me our script – Devanagari.

Apart from them, I’ve studied and learned under different master penmen and calligraphers who have definitely helped me expand my horizon in this field. Some being – Michael Sull, Jake Weidmann, Nina Tran, Paul Antonio, Michael Ward and Sachin Shah.

 

Advice for young artists?

I never got any professional education in the field of art. Calligraphy just happened to me. My journey from passion to profession was very organic. 

I would like to say that if you have a passion for a particular art form, you should put in all your efforts, and at the same time be realistic. There is a huge difference between pursuing art with passion and creating art under pressure from clients with deadlines. You should take it slow, weigh out options and quit jobs to pursue art only when you are sure of having financial stability through what you’re doing.

Lastly, never become complacent and keep learning! Always be a student. Look for a mentor, someone you look up to, someone you respect and would like to learn from. Invest in yourself and focus on constantly improving your skills. 

Looking for the perfect gift?

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Personalize your gifts like never before. We provide handmade art and make sure we incorporate your tiny memories to create a unique gifting experience for you.

Meet Karthik Abhiram, a portrait artist

Meet Karthik Abhiram, a portrait artist

The big world of miniature art

INTERVIEW WITH KARTHIK ABHIRAM

Karthik Abhiram is a miniature portrait  artist and a brilliant photographer based in Hyderabad. Inspired by movies right from his childhood days, he creates beautiful portraits of different movie characters in his exclusive style on his Instagram page – Daily Movie Sketch. He also creates miniature sketches that will captivate you with its intricacies

He believes that consistency and discipline can take an artist a long way. Read on more to find out about Karthik’s creative journey.

Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?
For me, art comprises many things – sketches, paintings, photography and music. I believe that anything that is created by an artist with their skills is art. Every piece of art is special in it’s own way.

Most of your sketches are based on movie characters. What inspired you to start these?
I’ve been a movie-buff since childhood. Drawing is my way of expressing my love for movies. Once I watch a movie, I look for key moments or visuals from there and then use that as the reference for drawings. There are many artists whom I follow on Instagram, and their work has also been an inspiration for me to improve my skills.

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?
I guess as artists, we are always very critical of our own work, and while I didn’t pursue art as a career, I still try to improve with every sketch I do. There are several aspects that one can work on – proportions, shading, colors, rendering, use of different mediums – so I try to see what other artists are doing better, and then try to apply those to my own artwork.

How has your perception of seeing things changed after painting for such a long time?
Apart from drawing, I am also passionate about photography and I think both of these have helped me to find interesting frames, patterns and visuals.

Have you collaborated with any other artists and brands, if yes how was this experience?
Brand collaborations have been very rare, but I have participated in a few art challenges. The three I can think of are –  #Inktober (where one does ink sketches in October), #DrawWithMango (theme based challenge), #AnInchAugust (doing miniature art that’s one inch square in size). The latter two are challenges initiated by friends of mine, Harish and Neha.

I always make it a point to participate in these, because the themes and concepts have helped me explore new things which were out of my  comfort zone, and also helped me to discover other artists. 

Are you ever faced with a creative block? If yes, how do you get over it?
Everyone goes through this phase. At times I feel like I do not draw enough in spite of having time due to lack of motivation or ideas. The best thing to do is to wait for the phase to pass and start looking for new sources for inspiration.

If you could go back in the past and change a decision that you made, what would it be?
I don’t think there is anything that I’d like to change.

How important is traveling for an artist? Do you seek inspiration from every place you visit?
I think travelling is definitely inspiring as it helps one to discover interesting visuals. However, for the kind of drawings I do, travelling doesn’t have a direct connection.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

I would like to share a few things based on my own experience– 

Draw what you like, but do it consistently. Never compare your work with that of others as there will always be someone who’s better than you. Get inspired by others’ work and focus on getting better with your own skills. Don’t get disheartened if one sketch doesn’t turn up the way you imagined it to be, just keep moving on.

If you were to learn a new art-form, which one would it be?
If I had to pick something completely different from visual art (photography and drawing), it would be dance. 

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?
Any platform that helps in encouraging art and artists is appreciated! Thanks a lot Stoned Santa for the work that you are doing and thanks for this opportunity as well.

Looking for the perfect gift?

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Personalize your gifts like never before. We provide handmade art and make sure we incorporate your tiny memories to create a unique gifting experience for you.

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