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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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 replica, 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. 

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Meet Niharika, an illustrator and a comic artist

Meet Niharika, an illustrator and a comic artist

Meet Niharika – an illustrator and a comic creator

Niharika is an illustrator, comic creator, and storyteller based in Noida. 

She creates quirky anecdotal illustrations that are inspired by everyday life around us on her instagram page – Doodloo By Niharika Having a keen interest in art right from her school days, Nihaarika quit her job to pursue art, full-time. 

She has been working for the past two years as a freelance illustrator. Her perseverance and ambition have gotten her opportunities to work with some big brands like Fabindia, Fortune Oil and Indigo airlines.

If you’re having a rough day, a scroll through her Instagram account can definitely lighten your mood.

Niharika spoke to us about her life as a freelance illustrator and where she gets inspiration for her illustrations from.

Have you always been inclined towards drawing or was this something that you acquired over the years?

My mother is an artist and her work influenced me to pick up art as a hobby at a very young age. I used to be fond of making handmade greeting cards for my family members for every occasion. During my school days, I used to excitedly participate in the drawing contests.

Overtime, with constant practise I got better at it and from the past 2 years I am pursuing this full time.

Have you received a formal education in art? If not, what made you pursue it?

I am a self-taught artist and have not received any formal education in the field of art.  I have completed my under-graduation in English literature and a masters in mass communication. I was introduced to the designing tools and software during my post-graduation and I started learning them on my own. After this, I went ahead to work as a graphic designer in a couple of companies.

Before taking up freelancing full-time, I used to work with the Timeliners, a sister concern of TVF (The Viral Fever). I absolutely loved the energy and creativity that my colleagues had.  They were the ones who encouraged me to pursue art. It’s been 2 years since I quit my job to pursue this full time, and there’s no looking back

Any exciting projects that are coming up?

I am in talks with a couple of brands for collaborations. Apart from that, I am planning to start a new comic series revolving around my newly married life. I’m also planning to resume the comic series that dealt with stories about my mother and I.

I am working on starting my own merchandise, and will soon be launching a website as well.

How do you deal with a creative block?

I was completely off doodling for the past couple of months as I was busy with my wedding preparation. Even though it was my own wedding, I always had productivity guilt on the back of my mind. 

Now that I have moved in with my husband, and resumed my work. I often find myself not able to focus on work at stretch. When I find myself in situations where I am not able to think of something new, I start making notes of every tiny detail of my day, right from the time I wake up. This practice helps me notice the small little incidents that could be relatable to others, and I create comics on them. 

How has the lockdown affected you?

Since my nature of work is from home, it hasn’t affected much. But, watching the news and hearing about all the suffering that’s happening around disturbs me and I wonder if I should still continue doing what I do. But on the other hand, if my comics can lighten up somebody’s mood in tough times like these, I would be truly happy.

Some of the artists whom you look up to?

Alicia Souza is an all time favourite. I completely admire her energy, consistency and work discipline.

Sumouli Dutta is another illustrator who has got such a distinct style, I just love the way she is not in competition with anyone but herself. She just focuses on spreading positivity through her comics.

If you were to go back in time and change a decision that you made? What would it be?

I would have definitely joined an arts school. This would have helped me be 5 years ahead of where I am now. In fact, I still consider joining a design school even now.

What are the problems faced by a freelancer?

The first few projects will be a struggle. Clients will have a preconceived idea of how the final output should look like. They would have seen some other artist’s work and expect you to recreate something similar, this restricts your creative freedom.

However, over time you will start getting approached by the right kind of clients who truly appreciate your style of art.

What would you advise to the budding artists?

There is a huge difference in getting inspired and simply copying. Practice alone can help you achieve your exclusive style. 

If you plan on making a livelihood from art, be patient even if you might not see any immediate returns. Have other means of income until you get well established, and then you will have the freedom to pursue art full-time. 

Thoughts about Stoned Santa?

Being a sucker for handmade art, I found your website to be very refreshing. There are many people out there wanting to give something memorable and you are providing it in one place by pooling in a lot of talent together.

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Meet Aniruddha Lele, an illustrator and a caricature artist

Meet Aniruddha Lele, an illustrator and a caricature artist

Meet Aniruddha Lele – an illustrator, caricature artist and a comic creator

Aniruddha Lele is a versatile artist who creates beautiful digital portraits, concept art, illustrations, and caricatures. He  spent his childhood doodling anything and everything and as he got older, his desire and passion for art only grew furthermore.

From creating personalized artwork for clients to designing illustrations for books and publications, Aniruddha speaks to us about his artistic endeavor.

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

I view art as a medium to express my thoughts. For some, it could be writing or music, but for me, it’s always been drawing and painting.

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

I come from a family of artists. When I was about 2-3 years old, my mother gave me a piece of chalk and I started drawing all over the floor. Ever since then, I’ve been inclined towards art.

Are you self-taught? If yes, how has the journey been? 

My mom was my first teacher, she taught me the basics of drawing right from a very young age. I also used to refer to a lot of drawing books. The journey has been absolutely wonderful.

How were you introduced to illustrations? What made you pursue it? 

I joined a Fine arts college after my 12th to pursue BFA. This helped me explore many facets of commercial art, some of which being illustrations for books, storyboarding and concept art.

How do you think technology has changed the dynamics of art? 

Technology has made it extremely convenient for artists to deliver quick results and address clients’ requirements. Being a commercial artist means making several changes on a particular art piece according to client’s feedback. This would have been a very lengthy process had it not been digital .

Technology has also made it much easier to learn and sharpen our skills from the abundant resources available online. We can also see the works of industry veterans on Instagram and interact with them. 

Which are some of the interesting projects that you are working on? 

I love working on children’s books. I did a project with the SuperKids League and Womanarelit.com to create storybooks for kids. I consider these two projects to be very dear to me.

Another project worth mentioning is a collaboration I did with Mocktale Drinks to design their packaging material and Instagram feed.

Can you name some of the artists whom you look up to?
Lois Von Barle, Bobby Chiu, Prasad Bhat, Dylan Bonner,  

How is a typical day in the life of an illustrator?
Few days are really hectic and the few days are very relaxed. Working from home can make you lazy and unproductive because of all the distractions. At the same time, there are no fixed timings and you will have to stay up all night to complete certain projects.

What are the problems that you face as a freelancer? How do you think people can support artists? 

Working on freelance projects makes it hard to have a steady income. The work can also get so grueling at times, that we hardly have a social life.

What advice would you give to the budding artists? 

Keep practicing and creating. We need to limit our focus on consuming information through TV, phone and instead focus more on creating art.

What exciting plans do you have in the coming years? 

My wife and I have been working on an interesting venture called Tooti Frooti Comics where we create humorous comics revolving around couples. We are soon going to launch a website as well.

Throughout your journey, who has been your biggest support? 

My parents and my wife have been the biggest support.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa? 

I think it’s a great platform for artists to showcase their talent and earn. 

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Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Interview of Sangeeta Prayaga

Sangeeta Prayaga is a self-taught Mandala artist and an illustrator who hails from Bangalore. She is Revamping this age-old art by adding her own elements to the traditional design to make it look more beautiful. She also creates adorable illustrations that have created quite a buzz on social media.

We interviewed Sangeeta to find out the secrets behind her ornate art and what inspired her to become an artist.

Art can be perceived differently by different people. How do you perceive art?

Art for me is meditation and a technique to calm myself, a channel through which I can tell my stories and escape from negativity. In short, art for me is my happy place! 

Your Illustrations are so unique, yet send a very strong message. What inspires you to do these? 

I channel my inner voice of positivity through the illustrations of baby elephants called Ganpat Rao and Gaja Lakshmi. I strongly believed that the world needed a therapy elephant, that’s when Ganpat Rao was created, and everyone on my Instagram instantly loved him! For these illustrations, I take inspiration from my own day-to-day life, the positive lessons I learned from my past and the ones that I am learning from my present!

Can you run us through your thought process while brainstorming for artistic inspirations?

I get inspired by the interactions I have with people and my personal experiences. I journal every little thing I learn or realize about life, people and then use them to make the illustrations. That’s one of the reasons why Ganpat Rao sounds so wise!

How have criticisms helped you shape your career?

Thankfully, I take criticism well! I come from a family full of artists. My sister, who is an artist herself, has played an important role in my life when it comes to my growth as an artist. She has always given me constructive criticism and helped me shape my thought process while creating art.

I also seek feedback from my customers after each purchase to improve my product and store! 

Are you ever faced with a creative block? If yes, how do you get over it?

Yes, I have faced creative blocks. There are days when I have no creative ideas at all. On those days, I doodle anything and everything that comes to my mind. I would say drawing something is better than not drawing anything at all.

If you could go back in the past and change a decision that you made, what would it be?

I don’t think I would want to change anything. I am what I am today because of all the good and bad choices I’ve made. I have no regrets and I  just work towards becoming a better person every day. 

What role does music play in the illustrations you do?

My favorite artists are, Ludovico Einaudi, Michael Jackson and Billie Holiday. I listen to them all the time while drawing and their music helps me to get into “THE ZONE”!

How important is traveling for an artist? Do you seek inspiration from every place you visit?

Traveling plays a key role in the artists’ life! I had recently been to Vietnam. There’s so much to learn from the people there. I created illustrations that told stories about the strong women of Vietnam, the delicious food, and the experience of having a Ca Phe! Ganpat Rao loves sharing what he learned from each place he visits.

What advice would you give for the upcoming artists?

Always have a strong purpose for your art. Your artistic skill is your superpower. Use it well! 

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

Alicia Souza, hands down! She does put “aw in art”. When it comes to Mandalas, Rashmi Krishnappa and Saudamini Madra are the ones I look upto.

What are your thoughts on Stoned Santa?

First of all, love the name! Also, love the idea and your work. Gifting has always been an issue for me. I am bad when it comes to gifting and my husband will agree with that. I love how Stoned Santa has a gifting expert who can help people like me to find the perfect handcrafted gift. This is something most of us need. 

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7 Caricature Ideas for every type of couple you know

7 Caricature Ideas for every type of couple you know

7 Caricature ideas for every type of couple you know

The wedding season is around the corner, and you’re bound to get dozens of invitations from your friends, relatives and neighbors. While you get to attend fancy dinner parties and eat plenty of enticing food, you’ll also have to think of what to gift the couple.

Let’s agree, we’ve had enough of the bouquets and chocolates. You would want to gift something that’s memorable.We’re kind of experts when it comes to gifting. Our gift experts will help you find just the thing for the people you love.

One such idea is a caricature. To celebrate your bonding over the years you have been together, in a childish way of mocking and pulling each other’s legs, we bring to you caricature ideas for every kind of couple you know.

1. The Desi Couple

We all know that one couple who seems to have come straight out of a Bollywood movie. Every time they enter, a song can be heard playing in the background, and they just won’t stop giving DDLJ references. Surprise them with one of these Bollywood-themed caricatures.

2. The Wanderlusts

You know those couples, whose social media feed are full of airport check-ins, and breathtaking pictures from their vacation. If you know a couple who loves to explore the world and take on every adventure which comes in the way, these travel-themed caricatures are the way to go.

The best thing about a destination themed caricature is that you can picture yourself in your favourite destination, without having to visit it!  Truly amazing isn’t it?

3. The F.R.I.E.N.D.S Fandom

Even though it’s been 25 years since F.R.I.E.N.D.S aired for the first time, some people just can’t get over it. If you know a couple who have found their lobsters, gift them these customised caricatures, or if you have found a Chandler to your Monica you could get one too 😛

4. The Football Fanatics

Ever met a couple that bonded over mutual hatred towards a rival club? Are they ready to give up on anything to not miss that final goal? Get this football themed caricature with a personalised jersey, for the crazy football fans.

5. 1-Love

This Couple can usually be spotted in badminton courts late at night, hitting those smashes and sweating it out. The only “court” they can think of is the one badminton court. Gift them something that truly brings out the sport in them.

6. To those who believe in magic

We know that there are wizards and witches out there waiting to get a letter from Hogwarts, in order to get away from the mundane muggle life.

Our artists will use just the right amount of potion and sorcery to create this quirky caricature for all the Potter-heads out there.

7. To the Partners-in-wine

Do you know couples who absolutely love wine, and attend these fancy wine-tasting sessions. Here’s a unique gift for pour-decision makers.

Cuz, wine not?

8. To the everyday Superheroes

Here’s a crazy idea for our everyday superheroes. Whether it’s scrolling through social media while working or binging through the entire series on Netflix without sleeping for hours, it’s still a superpower. 

With customized caricatures, you could look like like your favourite super-hero.

9. We GOT this!

Do you know a couple who is a huge fan of Game of Thrones? If yes, these GOT themed caricatures will surely excite them.

With customized caricatures, you can chnage the plot, bring your favourite characters to life and much more.

10. Customized Caricature

If you know a couple who have a wide array of interests and you want to incorporate every tiny element that makes them, them, get in touch with our gift experts now and they’ll help you curate a customized caricature.

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