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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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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. 

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